Monday, November 29, 2010

The tree is lit!

1800 lights. Let's face it, there'd be more but I ran out.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Tough Day

In the last few months, Lola was up to three hundred pills a month.

Today was tough day. Today is the day that I put away all of Lola's pills. We called the vet to see what our options were. Though we could not "return" them, we could bring them back and at the vet's discretion, they can offer them to a client who is unable to afford these drugs but needs them. Yes, it feels good to pass along the good deed.

Lyle and I have agreed that anything that makes us remember the happy crazy Lola can stay in place for as long as either one of us wants it to. Things that make us remember an ill Lola can be put away.

We put away the extra carpet runner that was only down so she could have better footing in the bedroom. We put away the extra dog pad in the living room that she only laid on when she was sick. We put away the small throw rugs from the back of the house that she would pee on when we didn't let her out fast enough.

We kept out the bed she slept in each night. We kept out the blanket she slept under. Her collar is easily found in the drawer. There are photos of her everywhere.

So you'd think letting go of these pills would be a cinch but I have been a wreck over them. I finally found the words to explain to Lyle, "I've been putting together Lola's pills for 6 years. They've gotten more and more complex and I have always been the one to lay them out two weeks at a time. FOR SIX YEARS since she first had her kidney issues to this month. And I realized that I am still waiting for her to come back to us. Her bed is ready. Her collar is ready. If I don't have her pills, how will she survive?"

And I had to let them go.

I tell everyone I am okay. I tell everyone Lyle is worse than me. I am pretty certain I am lying through my teeth. Because I am not okay. I am not ready to let go. But I don't have a choice.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Good Grief

This blog has been stuck for some time now. You may not have noticed, but I have. I had some crap happen through work last September and since many of the people involved know about this blog, I shut it down. You'd never have noticed. I still posted, I just didn't share anything with too much honesty. I was angry and deeply hurt and it was all so overwhelming that I couldn't (and still won't) go into it here. Short version, a friendship ended. It was like a death. And I needed to work through my emotions.

Then came and actual death in my family. When my uncle passed away in March, I was going to say it "required me to grow" but that would be an unfair characterization. I chose to grow in such a way I had never anticipated. Seeing my dad in pain was not something I could ever have planned for. My mom is always the person in charge. This time, though she rose to the occasion, it was still bigger than her and it took an entire family of us to make it through together. Nothing in my life has ever been bigger than what my parents could handle. They stepped back, or maybe it was to the side, but they made room for all of my siblings and relatives to take their turn. To shoulder the weight they could not bear alone.

My mom always says that once you learn something, you are responsible for it. Though I willingly took that class in March, I was not ready for being responsible for this new knowledge.

As I look around my circle of friends I see a lot of them stepping up to learn similar lessons. And it breaks my heart to know the pain that comes with the lessons. I recently needed to sit down and write a note to share my sympathy with a friend who lost a loved one. I was stuck.

There aren't any words to make it better.

In contrast, just knowing someone else is caring for you and holding you in their thoughts can somehow still give so much comfort. No specific words can make it better, but using words to share your feelings can ease the pain.

I sat down and I wrote from my gut what I was thinking.
I wish I could give a big hug that would make it all better. I’ve sat before and tried to think of something to send, chocolates, flowers, a beef stew... anything to fix the pain. But as we all know, nothing seems to "fix" this neatly or simply.

I liken grief to a giant wave that washes over you. At first, that wave hits you over and over throwing you on the shore filling your swimsuit with sand. And it's very uncomfortable and really scratchy!

The only thing I’ve found that helps is time. With time, the waves come less frequently. Sorry to say, they don't stop coming. They don't even hit any less powerful. But they will slow down to hitting every ten minutes, instead of constantly. Then the wave will hit once an hour, twice a day, and so on.

I think it's healthy to acknowledge your emotions. The more you fight to keep them away, the longer it takes to process what is going on. I have found myself blindsided with grief at times and just sat down and bawled hysterically for five minutes. It felt horrible in the moment, but for me, it let all that "stuff" get out. I was able to stand up and get back to my day.
Sometimes when a person passes away, we step back and try to make the hurt go away by pretending it never happened. No one talks about the absent loved one, no wants to bring up a "touchy" subject. The person passes away and then "disappears." Before my uncle passed away he gave his car to my niece. After his death, his car sat in my parent's driveway waiting for my brother and his family to come and get it. My mom told me every day she would walk out the door and see his car and in her head she would be reminded, "Ed is dead." She was looking forward to the day when the car would leave and start it's new life so she could walk out the door and not be reminded. That day came and my brother and his family came and took the car home. The next day my mom walked outside and was surprised to be hit by her emotions. Now my uncle wasn't just dead, he was gone. And she went through her grief all over again.

After a my good friend Robb's dad passed away, we were visiting his mom. We were cooking dinner and I just turned and said, "I keep waiting for John to walk in. It's weird that he's not here. I miss his big voice. You must too." And then we started talking about what a powerful presence he had and then Mickey told us all sorts of stories. It was a really happy night. We’ve celebrated their wedding anniversary since he passed away. Every morning when I have toast, I can still hear Robb's dad saying, "I like my butter ALL the way to the EDGE." Every time I make toast.

Don’t let death take people away from you. Celebrate the times you had together.

And this is where I find myself once again. Trying to celebrate all the great times we had with our little Lola. I'd like to say that you get to learn this lesson and move on, but this is one of those lessons that never gets easier.

The only thing I have learned is perspective. I am holding on to the knowledge that we have made it through the loss of a pet before. We have had joy in our lives after. We have survived.

The hurt doesn't go away. But by acknowledging your pain, you give it a name, and you give it an outlet. At first it’s all consuming. But you will survive.

I can not stop my feelings. I need to live with my emotions.
I will experience them, and I will give them voice. I will set these feelings free.

When your friends need you, stop and be there. Listen to them and support them. By not "fixing" them, you can actually make it better.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Our Little Lolita 1999-2010

I will always remember the day Lola came into our lives. We worked in a less than stellar part of town and we worked long hours. We gave up trying to get home in tome to feed and potty our dogs Sophia and Nora and we just took them to work with us. Sophia the black and white Cocker Spaniel and Nora the Dalmatian.

One day the postman came in and told us our Dalmatian was out in the alley hiding in the tall grass. Except our Dalmatian was in the office with me. So Lyle went out and found the saddest shivering little puppy hiding in the alley. He picked her and to carry her in and she peed on him. Once he got her in the office she stood at the exit door and peed again. He kept coaxing her out into the center of the office and trying to assure her that it would all be fine.

He kept trying to get me to come out from my desk and play with her and I kept refusing. Finally I told him, "Look, if I touch that dog, we are going to keep that dog. And we already have two dogs and we don't need three."

He replied, "Just come and play with her." and then with the most beautiful twinkle in his eye, he added "If we had three dogs would that be so bad?"
Lola 4 month old with Sophia and Nora.

A week later Lyle asked me what I wanted for our tenth anniversary and I said, "Lola." I begged him to let us keep her and in the end he gave in and she was my gift from him that year. But every rescue dog knows exactly who brought them in from the cold and Lola was keenly devoted to Lyle.

Six years ago she had kidney failure and instead of putting a down payment on a house, we brought her back from the brink. For a year I would call for her to come to dinner, "House down payment, Dinner!" And let me tell you that every dollar we spent to keep her an additional 6 years was worth it. I would never change a thing.

This year her heart began to give up and we were told in late August that we had a week or less with her. We gave it our all and we stretched that week to two months. The last few days around her were difficult watching our once vibrant little princess slow down into an elderly senior dog.

We knew the end was approaching and we hoped for an easy gentle passing at home. Early Monday morning she passed away. Held in Lyle's lap with me petting her head and Cooper laying next to me. We told her how much we loved her and we have been crying every since.

Though I know we will survive, the pain is devastating. She was boundless joy and could lure you into a spooning nap with a look of her eye. She was my gift and Lyle's shadow. Right now the joy she filled our hearts with is left with an empty hole and we are doing our best to remember the brightest of times with her.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Halloween, West Hollywood, 2010

Last night was the annual West Hollywood, Halloween Parade. And by "parade" they mean 500,000 people walking up and down Santa Monica blvd stopping only to take photos or get a drink. If you couldn't make it, lucky you! I did.

Lyle and I are terrible at planning what to be for Halloween. I am the master of last minute costumes that cost under $100 for two people. We've been "New Year's Eve" which consisted of wearing black suits with bow ties, drinking only champagne and throwing confetti on everyone as they passed by; French people in which case we wore striped T-shirts, a bandanna around our necks and carried a baguette; Cowboys and one year we just went out in flannel pajama with messed up hair carrying teddy bears.

On Saturday we decided on Hockey players, which morphed into Gold Medal Canadian Hockey players.

Canada for the GOLD!

We went out with our friends Todd and Dan and their friend Chris and Tom.
Todd and Dan, "Hey Sailors!"

Chris and Tom, "Satan's minions."

And then we hit the boulevard! The boulevard is closed at noon to prepare it for the onslaught of humanity. They have stages with live performances. There is a need to outdo what you did last year, to out shine the person next to you, have your costume be as current as it can be or to show as much skin as possible. We saw a lot of Chilean miners, Snooki and well built guys using any excuse to call underwear a costume.
My personal favorite of the evening: Karl Lagerfeld!

There are no words to describe...

Satan's minions and a lifeguard... "Easy Access" indeed.

Glitter and be gay.

Our first Snooki of the evening.

I couldn't help but think she was out as a smoking Barbara Billinglsy.

Everyone loves a Dutch man. Why so serious Todd?

We had started out at 7:00 pm and we were home by midnight. I woke up this morning to with two big bumps and scrapes on my forehead... Oh yeah, Dan and I fell down about 10 pm. I can place that because I texted my friends, "concussion" at 10:05. The craziest part of all that, I felt quite fine this morning. I swear to god, next year I'm going as Karl Lagerfeld.