Friday, October 28, 2011

Still keeping her close to my heart

When so much of my time and emotion went into caring for Cupid, I thought that I might feel somewhat relieved when she passed on. But that's not the case at all. I find myself missing all the extra efforts I made to make sure she had a fabulous life. The stress of my worrying about her?...I'd take it back in a heartbeat, if she were happy. What about the extra time I have now?... I don't care.

I wear a pendant that holds some of her ashes because it helps me feel that there is still a connection between us. It came from a wonderful company called Perfect Memorials. They were great to work with and shipping was quick. They can also be found on Ebay.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Another season without my girl

Fall has begun to gently settle in here in the Twin Cities. It was a great summer - with the visit to Lake Itasca State Park, the U2 concert, Vikings training camp, plus plenty of bike rides and trips to nearby beaches. There was so much time spent outside which will come grinding to a halt before I know it. As much as I dread the cold late fall and following winter here, Cupid always looked the most beautiful in the autumn. I will be reminded of her often. There are still days when memories of her choke me up and suck the wind out of my lungs with the incomparable pain of loss. Today brought memories of her at the Shoreview Community Center, where I used to search for the perfect parking spot in the shade for her while I exercised. We'd walk on the adjacent paths and around the pond. I remembered her favorite sniffing spots and how she loved to go everywhere in the car with me. Picking up Alexander after his first day of school was also difficult as I recalled that the last time I picked him up--last spring--my Cupid was with me. Walking through the dog food aisle at the grocery store has unexpectedly started me crying; I absolutely avoid that aisle now. Most days are OK but the ones that aren't leave me feeling broken, deflated, defeated somehow. She was such a huge part of my life.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Shepherdess and U2

Well, Jill asked for some art so here's something I finished a long time ago but for some reason I kept procrastinating doing the photomerge in Photoshop (it's 12x12). I guess I thought it was going to be a real pain but it actually took only about 30 seconds. The inspiration for this collage was some of Ann Baldwin's work, specifically from her book, Creative Paint Workshop. I used corrugated cardboard, patterned papers, decorative napkins, some mulberry paper and acrylic paints. Oh, and some stamping into the paint. The shepherdess is a gel medium transfer. I had a hard time deciding if I should include her dog because I think he looks too much like a sheep. I guess that's not such a bad thing.

It was another hot, sticky day here in the Twin Cities and it looks like tomorrow will be similar except that we could have thunderstorms, which should be fun during the outside U2 concert. I told my mom I was going to a concert and she told me to be careful not to get trampled in a mob rushing the stage. She's hilarious sometimes-- doesn't mean to be--although instead of laughing I should be taking notes because I'll need to use these lines on Alexander in a few years!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Peace and quiet and fear

The boys left Sunday. Off to Itasca (4 hours NW) for their annual foray into the woods, where Dana teaches biology to incoming freshmen and Alexander has the time of his life playing with the peer mentors and the kids of other instructors. 
I always look forward to my two weeks of alone time but this year it is different because I really am alone: there's no Cupid by my side. I'm pretty sure that Cupid relished her alone time with me just as much.
It's always a time of mid-year resolutions for me. I started my two weeks well, with a trip to the gym and resisting the urge to run to the store to buy more yummy flavored creamer for my coffee. I need to get back to using 1% milk.
I am resolving (again) to rid myself of the fear that infects my life.
A big one is my fear of making art. My poor muse, always being ignored. This fear stems from my issues with perfectionism, which I've dealt with since I was 6 or younger--not wanting to make 'mistakes', the fear of failure, and not being accepting of myself.
For someone with a background in research, where did all the thrill of experimentation go?

But as soon as I finish this blog post, I am setting myself up on the living room floor with a much-too-large assortment of red- and white-tones of acrylic paints and working on a memorial collage about a friend's therapy dog.  My reward will be to dive into a book by Beryl Taylor which I have wanted for a long time and recently received. Her work is so incredibly detailed; she uses fabric and paper and beads and embroidery to create amazing quilted fiber art. Every time you look at one of her creations, you notice something new. Her work is so inspiring, but for now I'd better start smaller although I did make a piece of her fabric paper the other day.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

More about Cupid

A poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, from To Flush, My Dog

With my hand upon his head,
Is my benediction said, therefore, and forever.
Blessings on thee, dog of mine,
Pretty collars make thee fine,
Sugared milk make fat thee!
Pleasures wag on in thy tail--
Hands of gentle motion fail
Nevermore, to pat thee!

Yet be blessed to the height
Of all good and all delight
Pervious to thy nature.
Only loved beyond that line,
With a love that answer thine,
Loving fellow-creature!

I found this poem in a very nice book titled Blessing the Animals: Prayers and Ceremonies to Celebrate God's Creatures, Wild and Tame, by Lynn L. Caruso. It really made me think of the relationship I had with Cupid. And the line about 'pretty collars' reminded me of her lovely red leather collar with the hearts on it. With a name like Cupid, I took advantage of the Valentine reference as well as the Christmas/reindeer one. The photo was taken in 2003.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

How my son plays catch

I forget at times how much fun it is to be a kid. If you want to wear last year's Halloween costume, you just do it. It doesn't matter if you're playing catch in the street. What a free feeling that must be. However, if you ask my little lefty, Alexander, how free he feels, he may tell you all about his losing privileges, consequences, and being grounded. It's not all fun and games!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I just dropped Alexander off at Safety Camp. I am sad and angry at myself because I had the opportunity to tell him how proud of him I am and that I love him so much, but I forgot to until I drove away. This is a big deal for me because my brothers and I didn't get much of that growing up and I had vowed to be different, better. Alexander was the littlest bit apprehensive about going to SC, even though he does great around new kids and new situations. He did great this morning too, joining in almost immediately with the kids in a discussion about light sabers. He looked happy and relaxed. Then he asks a question of the Sheriff's Deputy, who's there with a huge SUV pulling a boat (boat safety is first on the itinerary) and next thing I know, he's in the boat behind the wheel! I remembered back to when I was a kid - and these memories are few and far between - and I would have been scared, very shy, and definitely not talking to anyone unless spoken to first. Maybe my mom would correct me on this and tell me that I did fine, but these are the feelings and behavior I recall. When I had Alexander, I so much wanted not to pass on those traits to him (and tried extremely hard not to) and it looks like I haven't. I'm so grateful. And when I said goodbye to Alexander, I wanted to tell him how proud I was that he overcame his apprehension and started making new friends right away. I wanted to tell him I love him just because I do, and you can't say it too often, can you? You can be sure I will this afternoon when I pick him up, right before I ask him to tell me all about his day.

I'd had a small bag full of rolls of 35mm film sitting around forever, waiting to get developed mostly because it's just so darn expensive compared to digital. Well, I finally got it done and look what I found...this picture of Cupid from last winter, right around New Year's. But this is not in Minnesota, this is at my mom's house in Prescott Valley AZ. Sure they get snow there but it usually melts within 12 hours or so. They got a major snowstorm before the first of the year and it stayed extremely cold too. This was right when my mom was in the hospital and I needed to drive through the hills to get to the hospital in Prescott. I know pretty well how to drive in snowy and icy conditions but a lot of Arizonans don't and this was evident all along the sides of the roads though these hills and beyond, with abandoned vehicles pointing in all directions.
Anyway, we found out after moving at MN that Cupid loved to lay in the snow, no matter how cold it was outside - crazy girl. She still loved it even when she got old and her joints must have ached; most seniors like warmth on their old bones but not my Duper.
Update: Mom's doing fine now. Amazingly, there appear to be no lasting effects. She was in the ICU for 3 weeks, telemetry for another 3 weeks, then moved up to a specialty rehab hospital in Phoenix for about 2 weeks, then two more rehabs in Prescott Valley for another 6 weeks or so. Unfortunately, her back/leg/nerve pain is worse and she is trying to get on the fast track for surgery, but now her surgeon is apprehensive because of all she's been through. I feel for her; it's no way to live.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

My Cupid is gone

Cupid of Peppertree CD

December 25th, 1996 - June 8th, 2011

I said goodbye to my beloved Cupid. She was almost 14 and a half years old. We were used to her having her bad and good days but she woke up to a very bad day. So much pain. I couldn't get it managed despite the morphine, Rimadyl, and tramadol. She wouldn't eat any of her favorite foods. She wouldn't even drink water from her little bowls that I set next to her. I called the house-call vet I've been using lately and waited an unbearably long time for her to call back. She will hear about how disappointed I am, after their being wonderful caregivers to Cupid over the past year or so.

My regular vet hospital, Como Park Animal Hospital, came thru for us and they were even willing to euthanize her in the back seat of my car where she had spent so many happy hours. I had her cremated and will keep her ashes until I find a forever burial place for them, as well as those of my other Shepherds. It will not and cannot be Minnesota. This will never be home to me. If I never find the appropriate place to bury them, I have instructed Dana that I want all of them buried with me. Here's Dana's tribute to Cupid: Angry by Choice: Goodbye dear friend

I seem to be managing fine - better than I thought I would be - but then something out of the blue triggers memories of her and I break down. This afternoon, the sadness and crying and missing her so terribly went on for hours (and it's not done yet). I know I need to feel the pain, process the pain but thank God for alcohol and television to distract and numb. And now, if you'll excuse me, I need another shot.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Words you don't want to hear

"critical condition"

"life support"

"as sick as a person can be"

"it could go either way"

"Is she DNR?"

These are some of the things that have been said to me in the last 2 weeks in regards to my mom. Writing them now is freaking me out again. She's been in the hospital since the morning of 12/29/2010. We still don't know if she's going to make it. In fact, her latest doctor just called and wants to speak in person; that doesn't sound good.

Maybe later I can describe in more detail what had been happening before I called 911 that Wednesday morning. But the short version is that Mom had developed pneumonia--which is really bad for someone with COPD--and it progressed so quickly and stealthily that neither of us knew she was so close to death. It had started to affect her heart and kidneys, besides her lungs. In an weak, older person these problems can rapidly snowball. That she may have had very low blood pressure for an extended period period of time could mean brain damage.

The ventilator tube was removed on Sunday but my mom's not talking yet. This may be due to the tube irritating/damaging her throat or vocal cords, or her general weakness which is extreme. I was told it will take longer for a senior person than a healthy young person to regain this function but everyone's getting concerned that this much time has passed. Plus, her ability to nod yes or no still isn't consistent. The thought that I might never again be able to communicate with her is horrible and depressing. She and I aren't finished yet with work that needs to be done on our relationship.