Posts Tagged ‘death’

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Saying goodbye to the biggest piece of my heart.

October 15, 2015

i’ve talked before about how i believe the world works the way it is supposed to.

i’m having more than a little trouble understanding it at the moment. i know we aren’t always going to understand- and it may take time to see the big picture. But quite honestly, at this moment in time, i don’t want a big picture, i don’t want the future to come with answers, all i want is to turn back time.

September 12 was one of the worst days of my life. And i am trying to constantly remind myself of the year and a half of magic that led up to that day.

You see, 2013 was a year of ginormous changes in my life. They were good changes but hard ones. They happened in a way that i wasn’t emotionally prepared for and the depression monster became my closest frienemy. But in December of that year while i was struggling to make it through each day i learned that there might be a light in my future in the form of an emotional support animal.

i have always had a connection with animals- dogs especially. Growing up in the household i did my dogs were my protectors, my confidantes, and the greatest source of love. In college i had a pet fish who died, some friends wanted to know what would make me feel better as i sobbed. All i wanted was my dog. They couldn’t give me this so they went and bought me one of those electronic dogs that was so popular for a bit.

i spoke with my doctor, she agreed this was a good plan and something that would help me. And at some point in January of 2014, i started seriously looking at Petfinder to see who was out there. i saw so many faces and stories that touched my heart and then one night i stopped. i saw a face looking at me and i knew. i knew with no doubt i had found the answer i had been looking for.

On January 14 i drove about an hour and a half, it had snowed recently. Usually i am terrified to drive on slippery roads, i’ll avoid it at all costs but it felt like the middle of summer to me that day. When i pulled up to the shelter my heart was pounding in my ears, my mouth felt dry. i was anxious and excited. i started panicking that someone had come for her earlier that morning.

i walked in and let them know which dog i was there to see and the woman said, “Are you sure?” She went on to tell me how this dog was too wild for all the people who had come for her before. How she had been at the shelter for over 6 months- had had a major surgery. She finally let me know she would bring her out and i could see what i thought, she had a look of doubt and amusement on her face. Like she knew once i saw this animal i would turn around and walk out the door.

They brought her out and she jumped up to sniff me, i sat on the ground and she crawled into my lap, rolled on her back and looked up like she were saying, “rub my tummy and let’s go home.” And that’s what we did.

In the car she was nervous at first, she didn’t want to explore anything but the floor of the passenger’s seat. And then i started singing along with my music. She crawled up to the seat and started licking my face, she would stop and stare when a song changed and when i started singing more kisses. She started watching the other cars on the road- she loved them. Even when we stopped to pick her up some new treats and toys she wanted to stay in the parking lot and just watch the cars driving.

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The next day i gave her a bath and she fell asleep in my arms while drying off. i knew that this was the best relationship i had ever opened the door to.

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My Maguire was named after Robin Williams’ character in Good Will Hunting. Those of you who have read my previous posts know how much that movie means to me. Sean Maguire says things that hit my brain in ways other words have never been able to. And since she was my emotional support dog she was like a little therapist herself. i thought it was fitting.

The difference in my well being was astronomical. There are so many people who can tell you this. Not only did i have someone constantly beside me to face whatever demons crawled into my head but i had someone there who i knew i had to be there for. i had to get up each day to get food and water and trips outside. i couldn’t hide away the way i could before.

When i tore my ACL Maguire would greet me like normal but when it came time to snuggle she would rest with her head on my knee like she was protecting it from anything else happening. We practiced jumping through a hula hoop while i was recovering from surgery so she would still get exercise and fun while i wasn’t able to do as much.

She loved her aunties. One day one of them came to visit and i kept trying to do other things so Maguire would spend time with her. It wasn’t until i sat down and she was able to fully greet me and make sure i was okay that she went and crawled into someone else’s lap.

She refused to sleep without touching me. In the winter she was under the blankets curled up right next to me and in the summer when she got warm, she would stretch her paws so they were touching part of me and then fall asleep.

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To say i was in love would be an understatement. My heart has never been filled with the love and magical-ness of anything like this before. At my college reunion people commented about her in the same way i asked and commented about their children. i was so proud. My Girl Scouts would ask to see pictures. And almost everyone i ran into at work mentioned her. She was my world, my light, my heart.

So when i got home on September 12, i didn’t know that my world was going to change. Maguire greeted me like always- we had our mom just got home from work talk and snuggle in her chair and then came to snuggle more in bed. About an hour or so later everything changed. i knew something was wrong, i thought maybe she had a tummy bug. We went to the vet and by the time we arrived she had gotten even worse. After way to much time waiting and running tests they suggested i take her to the emergency vet. We sped out there to find that no one had any answers. She was deteriorating more and more and i was trying to be strong but i couldn’t stop crying. We decided to try a course of treatment and see what happened. A few hours later i got a call telling me that she had only gotten worse. The doctor said she had never seen anything like it in a dog. Whatever was happening was in her brain and it wasn’t stopping. My heart was breaking- i’ve never felt anything like it. And i said yes when she asked if i wanted to stop her suffering. i drove out in a blur of tears and they brought her in on a table, she couldn’t walk anymore, she was blind in one eye. She was trying to dig into the air as they put her on the ground and told me i could have as much time with her as i wanted. i curled up next to her and started talking while the tears poured out. Her paws stopped and rested on my tummy. i apologized to her for the day and for anything else i might have done to cause her suffering like this. i told her how much i loved her over and over and over again. i gave her kisses and i hid my face in her neck and sobbed while begging her not to leave me. i don’t know how long i was there- it never would have been enough time. i got up to get the doctor and she started digging again. The doctor came in and i curled up next to her again and held her while the shot was injected. i held her after. i didn’t know if i was going to be able to let go.

And now there is nothing. No clicking of nails on the wood floor. No protective barking when the neighbors get loud. Everywhere i look is a reminder. And all i can think is, why? Why her? Why me? Why in that way?  Because as whiny and cliche as it sounds, it isn’t fair. And the truth is, i need her. i still need her so much.

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Sometimes i have a good day, or hour, or few minutes, and then something reminds me and i can feel my heart being torn all over again. It never stops hurting.

Some people don’t understand, to them she was a dog. She wasn’t a dog to me. She was everything. You don’t ask someone who has lost a spouse or a child if they are going to go find a new one but they ask me that. i can’t look at a picture of any dog without making comparisons to Maguire or cursing it for not being her right now- i know that in time my heart will be open again but right now it is grieving and i don’t know when my next step in that process is.

It’s taken a few times sitting in front of this screen to be able to get this far. It has been a daily struggle to deal with the world and my own brain. i don’t have a pair of paws jumping onto my tummy in the morning to force me out of bed. i don’t have eyes looking at me or a body getting comfy on my head when i want to reach for a sharp object. And thus far i’ve been able to avoid those objects but i worry about how long that will last.

i’ve been shutting the world out, shutting people out. It isn’t so much that i want to be alone, though that is the only way i know how to put words to it. It is more like none of the world is Maguire and i don’t know how to talk about everything very well yet. All the words and the emotions feel like mush and i don’t know how to take that mush and turn it into a conversation or a moment in time with another being.

i’ve talked in the past about fighting this monster- there is a part of me, right now, that thinks. . . what’s the point? Because the things and people i love all just go away. Everybody leaves, my heart is always going to be crushed over and over and over again. So why try and fight? Why ask for help when i’m just going to end up alone anyway?

i’m lucky to have people in my life who don’t let me listen to that very long. But it’s a struggle. It’s hard work to fight while you feel so defeated. And hard to push through when you don’t see anything at the end to be fighting for. No amount of hard work or fight will bring Maguire back.

So i struggle, every single day. And this along with my fucking uterus has made for one of the most mentally and physically painful months that i can remember. i’ve been trying to take each day one moment at a time- that’s all i can do right now. Grief takes time. Our society doesn’t allow for that. We hear time and time again that you can take as much time as you need, and that in time things will feel better but there is no magic Delorean out there providing this time for us. We are expected to take that time around the schedule of everyone else- grieve as long as you want, as long as you don’t miss work and perform to normal standards. Grieve in your way, as long as you are still a functioning member of society. The pressure is enormous and makes my head want to explode.

i’m not saying this to call out any particular person or group. But it is hard enough to deal with mental health bullshit every single day. There are still so many taboos and fears. When you add a traumatic experience on top and are made to feel like those things don’t matter- that you just aren’t strong enough or trying hard enough it’s a recipe for disaster. i know this, i’ve eaten disaster more times than i’d like to remember.

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i’ve taken some steps to get help through all this and i’m trying to be proud of myself for that. i know Maguire would be.

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An open letter to the monsters in my head

August 15, 2014

Dear Depression Monster,

Lots of people are talking about you right now. And i’m glad. Except i hope it doesn’t stop this time. i hope they keep talking long and hard and loud. You lie.  i can only speak for me but you trick me. You trick me into thinking that all those people who told me to call them when i wanted to pick up a razor blade don’t actually mean it. You trick me into thinking the razor blades are my friends. You trick me into thinking that everything will always have that haze over it and it will hurt to even try to get out of bed. You make me think i am alone and you make every negative voice in my head scream so loudly that i want to just make everything stop. You make my head hurt and my stomach hurt. You make me feel like i am out of control in every aspect. i can’t focus, so you remind me how poorly i am doing at things which will lead to my eventual failure. i can’t explain why you are there so you let me know what a terrible friend i am when people just want to help. You don’t even let me form words sometimes because you like to taunt me with just how worthless all of mine are. You tell me to push people away when i need them most. 

Well guess what? Fuck you.

Because i felt you creeping up this time. And i asked for help. And i let someone know. And i didn’t let you keep my mouth shut. i looked at the blades and then i curled up and let the love of my life and she rolled on her back and stuck her paws in the air and waited for me to rub her tummy and then she licked my face and curled up on my tummy and reminded me that she loves me NO MATTER WHAT you say. That doesn’t mean i win this round or any round. You will probably always be stronger than me. But if i can hold on until you decide to move on then i at least get points. 

You played a part in taking someone who meant something to me. i never met him. i most likely never would have. And maybe it sounds silly but my heart was full of love for him. And it hurts now. More than i ever thought the death of a stranger could. And i hate you for playing a part. I hate you for lying to him and everyone else. And i hate you for making people feel so ashamed because they know you. 

i’m not ashamed and i’m ready, with backup, to punch you in the face. 

me

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But if death sneaks up on you, the only thing you have time to think is ‘Ah shit!’

August 4, 2012

It’s been too long. i’ve thought about posting before now but i’ve seemed to find other things to do. And honestly i like it like that. i like blogging, i really like it. BUT i like blogging when it feels right, when i feel like i have something to say. i have a lot of extraneous thought in my head, i really don’t need to spew it all over just to be able to say i posted something. And the few of you who read seem to be okay with my erratic postings so we’re sticking with it.

i have, however, been posting much more regularly over here. Right now you can read my thoughts and Melanie’s responses to my very first viewings of Gilmore Girls. You may also find out why you might never want to watch tv with me.

But none of that is why i actually felt the need to pull up this site and write a post. It is also not because i have nothing left to do at work and still have 2 hours to go, although it is a nice way to pass my time. My real reason for this post is a few things that sort of all tie together.  My grandma, an amazing teacher, pop culture stuff, and death.

See, my grandma turned 90 this week. And if you’ve never met my grandma or heard me talk about her she is probably the most amazing person i’ve ever met. She still lives on her own and does everything for herself except drive (she still could she just figures better safe than sorry.) She also doesn’t do the whole computer thing. But she takes the bus to her appointments if no one else needs to go near where she is going. She volunteers at her church, she does at least one crossword puzzle a day and reads at least two books a week.  She also has a beer every day. Keep in mind this is only now that she’s 90.

Because before she was 90 she did a whole lot of other stuff. i’m not going to write a biography here but i can tell you some stuff. My grandpa was a pro football player- you can see his stats here. They were married before he went pro so that meant my grandma traveled around and led the football wife life for awhile. She has stories of meeting lots of sports and film celebrities but most of them are people a lot of us have never heard of. She also went with my grandpa when he was recruited to try out for major league baseball. And she was on her own when he was overseas in the war. At some point after he came back they bought a bowling alley and ran that together. Then they bought a Dairy Queen. My grandpa died before i was born but my grandma kept running the Dairy Queen until  i was maybe 6. i remember spending the night at her house and waking up early in the morning to go get everything set up, she would make me a malt or a cone or whatever i wanted and i would sit on the counter and pretend that i was the boss and i was making her do all the work. This may have also been where i fell in love with cash registers.

After she retired she started volunteering at two different elementary schools, she helped kids who needed help reading and she helped with spelling. She also came to every one of my performances or games or bring your grandparent to lunch days. When i was in elementary school she moved across the street from me and i would go over every morning for breakfast. We liked to watch Bozo together, especially the Grand Prize Game. One morning i went over and she had created my very own Grand Prize Game from stuff she found around the house. She also took me to school and picked me up if it was raining or snowing too hard to walk. And once when we had a major ice storm while i was at school and they let us out early, she grabbed her garden hoe and made her way to my school by smashing the hoe into the ice (the humor of that phrase alone is not lost on me) and then pulling herself toward it on the ice. Now she only had one and a half blocks to go but still. When i wanted to get better at shooting a basketball or playing four square she came outside day after day and played with me until i improved. When there was going to be a sock hop at my school and lots of people were talking about how they had poodle skirts for costumes and i didn’t we went out and bought fabric and the two of us made one together.

Being an only child and having parents who are both only children AND having only one living grandparent made it so my grandma became my best friend.

The other person is a teacher. And i hope all of you have had at least one teacher who means half as much to you as this one means to me. When i was in elementary school my art teacher, Mr. Eddings was one of the most popular teachers in the school. Every kid wanted his attention but when it came your turn your could swear that there wasn’t another person in sight because his attention was so focused on you. He had a remarkable way of interacting with me that reminded me i was a kid while respecting me like an adult.

And he truly valued creativity. We did clay projects every year and one year i made an elephant and when it came time to glaze my elephant he was more than happy to hand over the purple and teal glaze and praised me for thinking about it differently. The year before i desperately wanted to make a duck. It didn’t go very well. My clay was more dump than duck and i was frustrated in that elementary school perfectionist kid way. When i wasn’t around he smoothed out some lumps and reshaped a little and the next day handed me a picture and told me how good my grouse was looking. Now i know, in some cases this would have been a bad move but in my case it was perfect. i didn’t realize at the time that he had made any changes, i thought i just hadn’t known what a grouse was but if my piece looked so much like a grouse that i might as well make that instead of a duck and my frustration was forgotten.

One of our projects early on maybe first or second was to draw a phoenix (have i convinced you he’s awesome yet?) My phoenix was so intricate, lots of spiky feathers around the edges- after we drew and coloured them we were supposed to cut them out and put them on a different coloured background. i was definitely struggling, i wanted it to be just right and my little hands weren’t that coordinated yet. Mr. Eddings came to the rescue and cut mine out for me and used it as an example for how to put it on the background. i was saved my frustration and no one knew it was because i wasn’t a good enough cutter.

We used to use pastels and charcoal a lot and of course we (and our parents) wanted our pictures preserved which he would do with a mega sized can of AquaNet hairspray. Now something about the smell of that hairspray makes me crazy, i feel sick, for the rest of the day i feel like i’m eating it, it’s awful. He learned this and any time he was going to spray anything he would pull me aside and let me wait inside a storage closet until he was done.

He also put chapstick on my lips in the winter when they were dry and cracked even though i fought him and thought it felt like slime. He was well known for talking in silly voices and making animal noises (this is a major talent in the eyes of elementary school kids.) One day we asked him to make a cow sound and he repeatedly wouldn’t. At the end of class while everyone else was at their desk i went to ask him something and asked him again, just him and me if he would make his cow sound. He said he would if i would so we traded cow sounds and i was a hero.

Most of the time i was Miss Farmer to him and i liked that because NO ONE else called me by my last name and i preferred (and still do) my first name. But when he called me Miss Farmer it was special, it was a nickname just for him. And it sort of all added up. Every conversation we had, every time he helped me or remembered i liked a certain thing, the way his room smelled, and the way he would smile when i came to visit made his room, made him a safe place.

i started cutting in fifth grade and his was the only room i didn’t think about it in. When i graduated from elementary school i cried hysterically mostly because i didn’t want a new art teacher, i didn’t want a new art room. i came back to visit him as often as i could all the way through high school. As i got older i got more introverted, more stuck in my mind, definitely more depressed. But i could still walk into his room and see him smile and feel safe. i didn’t have to talk a lot, i could just be there and that was okay. He always seemed to know when i needed to talk and when i just needed to be there- without ever knowing what was going on behind the wall i put up.

Here’s the thing about these two people. . . i honestly cannot imagine a world that they aren’t in. Nora Ephron just died (can i just pause to tell you how much i loathe the phrase passed away) and many people expressed the same feeling- i can’t say the same about her only because i didn’t know her personally. i know her work and i will miss it but she is not a person that i see or speak to regularly. But i know she was that for other people and i get it. Because my grandma is 90 now and Mr. Eddings is getting older and i know that they could both live to be 156 but that probably won’t happen.

i’m scared of the day when they won’t be here. i’m not scared in a way that i can’t live my life or that i obsessively think about it. But it is something i think about albeit more frequently than i should. And it isn’t to say that i won’t be affected by the death of other people but there are just certain people who make you feel like the world is a little more right in your head and these two are part of it for me. i already lost another one of them and i think about him every single day. Sometimes i wonder if my life would be different if he was still here. He was a teacher as well and has been the inspiration for countless stories, characters, poems, names (including a very real dog,) and conversations.

Now, i’m not trying to be morbid and like i said i don’t think about this all day every day. But it’s there. And i know that my grandma was one of the reasons i wanted to move back here to the cornfield. Because i wanted to spend as much time with her as i could. And if Mr. Eddings was still teaching, i would still go and sit in his room and talk to him as often as i could.

So i guess there isn’t really a point to this post other than to talk about two amazing people in my life and how lucky i am to have them.

Title is a quotation from an excellent tv show about death. If you know it without looking it up you get extra dinosaur points.