Life After Loss

A Dog’s Life

I hadn’t given much thought to having a dog when my friend Leigh offered me a puppy from the litter her dog sired in the fall of 2002. Nor did I know much about Shih Tzu’s as a breed, except for how cute they were. It had been almost 15 years since our cocker spaniel died, and we were accustomed to the freedom that life without dogs (and children) affords. After much discussion with everyone in the family, including my mother who would be our backup caretaker, we decided to bring Magic home.

And that’s just what we did. We brought magic into our house. He was lively, and energetic, and cute, and cuddly. We laughed until tears streamed down our faces at his antics, and all of us purred contentedly when he curled up between us on the sofa or in bed at night. He was such a good puppy in all the important ways. He potty trained easily, never chewed anything that wasn’t meant to be chewed, never minded being left alone. In fact, he was such a good dog - the Best Boy in the Whole Wide World - that 18 months later we brought home a baby sister, Molly Mei. And if one Shih Tzu was magic, two of them were pure joy. 

Hashtag

It’s been a queer couple of months since my last post. I feel lethargic. Tired. But agitated at the same time. Disinterested in my normal activities. An odd feeling of disassociation with the things I usually do. I feel myself pulling inward, spending more time alone than usual. Not really caring about much. 

During the first year after I lost my mom, I wrote a lot about grief being like a roller coaster. There were huge vacillations in my emotions - one day I was riding an almost manic high, while other days I was in the depths of despair. I kept extremely busy, scheduling social activities with friends, trying out all my mom’s recipes, gardening like crazy, looking for ways to stay close to her, to keep her presence alive in my life. 

With the passage of the first anniversary of her death, it’s as if the roller coaster has come to an abrupt halt at the bottom of the hill, leaving me strapped inside the carriage, motionless. 

Beautiful House

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been engaged in some home improvement, specifically, updating the kitchen in our condo. When we moved in, the vintage 1994 cabinetry and appliances looked quite up-to-date compared to the 1980’s stuff in our old house. But within a year I decided it would be nice to modernize with new countertops and stainless steel appliances. It would refresh the look and use of the kitchen for me to enjoy, as well as be a good investment for resale purposes.

I started talking about doing this way back in 2014. (One thing you can say about me is that I never move too hastily when it comes to home improvement!) I remember my mom being super excited about it, and she’d nag me gently ever so often. “When are you going to get your new appliances?” she’d say. She even slipped me some extra money in my birthday cards one year. “Put this toward your new kitchen,” she wrote on the inside of the card. 

A Month of Milestones

Today my beautiful mother would have been 90 years old. She wouldn’t like me making a fuss about that number, because she didn’t like being “old.” And she never seemed really old to me, despite the physical infirmities that interfered with her mobility and independence during the last few years of her life. She was sharp and quick witted, up to date on current events, and interested in the modern world around her - young at heart, as the saying goes. 

On the Night You Were Born

It was crazy windy here yesterday. March made like a Lion, and roared up a storm. Our utility company reported more outages than any other time in history, and says it will take up to a week to restore power for everyone. Trees are down all over, schools and businesses are closed. 

It was a mess. But all the while, the sun shone beautifully and there was nary a cloud in the sky. 

On the night I was born, 61 years ago today, it was crazy windy as well. My mother loved to tell that story, of the wind whistling around the windows on the top floor of the hospital. Of the way the large window by her bed rattled and shook until she was afraid it would crash into a million pieces. “There was thunder and lighting and rain pouring down all night,” she said. “I was a nervous wreck!” By morning, though, the wind had calmed, the sun was shining, and I had come into the world, red-faced, screaming, and with a headful of dark, wavy curls.