I waited to write this thinking it would be easier a month later, and sometimes it is, and sometimes it's not. I guess that those who have lost a loved one feel like that. I've been blessed to not yet had to experience losing someone that I've been around everyday for years on end. Until her.
And there are some that will read this and think, "Really? Um it's a dog, you know that right?" And those are the same people that probably have multiple pets they leave outside all day and night tied up and don't think twice about them.
But that wasn't Fisher.
Part of the hard in this was she was there from the start. My first birthday gift after we were married, which means she was the 2nd birthday gift Cory ever bought me. I can tell you I can't really remember any of the others.
She was there for the move, she came into our home just before we were given the opportunity to come to Birmimgham and just 4 months later, was with us as we drove south and started a new life here in Alabama. She was the last string of what came with us on that journey.
She was there for the hard times, faithfully bringing me her blue racquet balls at the house in Chelsea on days I didn't want to think, keeping me grounded with where I was and helping me find my way to the comeback that followed.
She was there for the excitement of the change in direction of our lives while we prayed and hoped for a family of our own. And there for the blessing of bringing Jack home and the gift of Duke so soon after.
She moved with us to a dream place, with a lake to swim in and lots of space to run; forest and fields and spent those first years here doing just that.
But in the last year, there was less running, less swimming and more sleeping. And so when the time came to make the decision that I'd known needed to be made, but didn't want to make, this is why it took so long to get there.
This is why when Cory would raise the question or give an example of why it was time to let her go, I would get defensive, angry, argumentative. Why I took a picture of her in front of the fireplace in January and dodged every single instance of his eyes looking at her and then to me for the following 2 months.
This is why when I finally said on that Friday in March when she jumped up at Jack for his hot dog and scared him to pieces, "Ok, I understand what we need to do."
It's why on that Monday when I called and made the appointment for the following Saturday I could barely get the words out of my mouth and wasn't sure I could breathe anymore that day.
It's why on Tuesday I begged Cory to call Dr. Tate and ask her one last time if there was anything we could do, anything we could try to help alleviate some of what we were seeing with her, the pacing around the room ending in a blank stare, the daily accidents, the falling down and slow to get up.
It's why on Thursday Amy texted me support, asking me to consider if she was the same Fisher from just a year before, is she protective of her body or her food, does her mental state seem the same? Reminding me she was the equivalent of 119 years old and asking me to remember that she has always been such a healthy dog, her body wouldn't go with cancer or kidney failure but it would be her mind and that in itself would be more difficult to see than any of the others.
It's why that night, I looked at my sweet Fisher with new eyes. I sat with her in my lap after the boys went to bed and tried to see her, but realized she wasn't there. I saw in the mornings she seemed her, but by nightfall she was gone. I saw that the reason Bailey laid in the living room while Fisher ate in the mud room was because she was afraid of Fisher's protectiveness.
I saw that it was time to let this sweet, warm, faithful gift in our lives go.
And so Saturday morning, at the Highlands Prayer Service I cried until I couldn't see through my tears listening to Matt Redman's "10,000 Reasons". And when Cory met me after at Riverview with her, I could barely stand without shaking. But I did, for her.
We sat with her, stroking her fur, reminding each other of all the good and telling her how much love she'd given us and how it would never leave our hearts.
And when the time had come and she fell against me, my hand landing naturally to her side, I felt that love beat three times and leave her. But it will stay with me forever.
And through tears just as strong as they were a month ago I wish my Sweet Fisher a Happy 18th Birthday. May there be extra blue racquet balls in heaven for you today.
The highlight of the K5 year is the performance of Three Tall Trees, a story of three trees that each have grand aspirations but are claimed by woodcutters and their fortunes are changed forever. I went to Lifeway today to get the book, but they were sold out, so looks like I'll be ordering online tomorrow. Perfect Easter gift for kids his age.
Today was the dress rehearsal so we could take pictures and video if we wanted. Jack has been talking about this play since he saw it last year. Of course, after today, I understand why since he is very obviously coveting the Roman soldier costumes that his buddies Reeves and Reece are wearing. If you watch, around 3:30 into the video the soldiers are leading Jesus onto the stage as he carries the cross and Jack's eyes never leave them for the full minute as they round the other side of the stage behind him.
Early on he realizes I'm no longer sitting with his Dad and starts searching the audience for me with no luck. Finally shortly after he loses interest in the Roman soldiers, he mouths to his father "Where's mom?" I laughed when I watched my video and caught it. And even laughed more when he finally caught my eye near the end and gave me his half smile.
It was truly so sweet. I pieced together a few of the songs I was able to video before the card ran out of memory. And a few pics with his buddies Reeves and Reece are below too. I'm going to order a copy of the professionally done DVD they offer when it's finished.
So proud of these kids! They've been working on this play for months - and Duke will be ahead of the game, because he pretty much knows all the songs at this point from practice in the car!
What is a blog for if not to write about the most intimate moments in the life of your family. I mean who can keep up with all that baby book business, dates of the first teeth coming in, dates of the first teeth being lost, vaccinations, first words, gifts and their givers from each birthday celebration. The thought is exhausting. It's a good thing I have boys who would probably toss the books in a box in an attic for the duration of their lives only to be damaged by the elements and disintegrate before ever being looked at again. At least that's what I'm hanging my hat on to avoid the guilt from all the dates and firsts I've missed writing down in the past 6 years
However, I have decided this memory book item should live in the annuls of our family story. If not for my benefit, for Duke's so that one day if his child should decide to make the same error in judgement he did two weeks ago today, perhaps he will be ahead of the game in resolving it.
Yes, I'm talking about The Penny.
And for those facebook friends that found it a bit repulsive that I continued to update our progress in locating The Penny, I say to you, too bad. Yes I too find some posts by others meet the TMI standard far to often, but in the process of the past two week's events, well, the posts and comments to them were the only entertaining piece of my life I could hold on to.
So, The Penny. It entered our family innocently enough, from the change slot in my center console. Retrieved by Duke and held on to during our drive home that evening as if it were a shiny gold doubloon from Jake and the Neverland Pirates themselves. I faintly remember him snatching it and even more faintly remember getting out of the car and walking in the house with his luggage for the day. I do remember telling the boys no less than three times to turn back around and gather their items from the car before getting in the shower, since it was 7pm and bedtime was on the horizon.
And then it happened, just after that third "Go back to the car and get your book bag and anything else you've left and put it up." Duke looked up at me, near terror in his eyes, "I JUST SWALLOWED THE PENNY!"
"THE PENNY, IN MY MOUTH..." (and yes, all caps BECAUSE WE WERE SHOUTING)
"WHAT PENNY IN YOUR MOUTH...WHY WAS THERE A PENNY IN YOUR MOUTH??!??...YOU ARE FIVE, WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH A PENNY IN YOUR MOUTH??!!??!?"
"AM I GOING TO HAVE TO HAVE SURGERY TO GET IT OUT? I DON'T WANT THEM TO CUT IT OUT OF ME!!!!!
Insert here...Mom slapped back into reality.
"Buddy, wait, I'm sorry, it's going to be OK. You are not going to have to have surgery." (Thinking...he's not choking, he's talking, WOW that sucker went right down quick!)
Duke, eyes WIDE at me, "BUT HOW WILL IT COME OUT?!?!??"
And there my friends is where the journey began.
As a precaution I did call the after hours offices and leave a message for a nurse who couldn't give any medical advice over the phone but who did reassure me that likely since he had no problem with swallowing it, that it would "reappear" in due time.
Well, since I am a Type A control freak (shocking to all of you I know), I knew immediately what this meant, 24/7 monitoring of Duke in hopes of payment in kind.
The next morning, naively hopeful, I kept him at the office with me. Loaded with workbooks, pencils and his Leappad, off we went. After a check in call to the pediatrician it was decided an X-ray would be wise to verify the penny had indeed traveled to its first needed destination, Duke's tummy. So after a quick visit to Children's South we got this
We managed until 2pm when the Alabama snow sent us off to pick up his brother and avoid the hassles of driving in flurries. You have not truly experienced weather related chaos until you've lived through the threat of snow in Alabama. And since there was zilch on the reappearance indicator, it was a fine dinner of brown rice, broccoli and chicken and promises that we'd have that ole coin the next day! Right?!
Ummm, no, and not the next, the next, the next...you get the picture. On top of it, although Cory returned from his traveling adventures Friday and kept Duke with him so I didn't have to play Mom at the office, he wasn't feeling all that well and when he woke up Saturday and drove straight to Urgent Care my fears were confirmed - Flu. Great, so my 3 days of having him home since the 1st turned into 3 days of solo parenting with an added bonus of being tied nearly constantly to the house to await The Penny. And on the one occasion it might have appeared, I got the added pleasure of confirming whether or not it did with the aid of a plastic fork and a gas mask.
Monday, being MLK Day meant the kids were off school and since Cory was on the road again (have I mentioned my severe dislike for all things Willie Nelson)...me, kids, working from home and The Penny. Not an ideal combination at the level my patience had reached. However, based on the days "results" it was fairly certain I'd be ok in sending him to school for the morning and picking him up at 11:45 carpool to observe the rest of the day's progress. And nothing...
And on we went through the week, one day with me at the office, one morning at school, me leaving early. I'm not even going to tell my sob story of all the work I was behind on and how working from home with two kids meant me either letting them zone out in front of the TV or Leappad or supervising them attempting to get their chores finished in about 10 times the length of time it would take for me to just do them myself. (Growing character and preparing them for the real world is higher on my priority list however. That and making sure my future daughter in laws will worship me for what great husbands they found.)
By Friday afternoon, I was what I can only classify as A COMPLETE WRECK. Buried under at the office with major deadlines looming the following week, patience weary to the point of nonexistence and severely stressed about why The Penny was taking so long to meander out of my child's body. On top of this,the longer The Penny remained, the more concern and questioning from Duke. It was apparent by at least the one week mark that he too was concerned The Penny may have decided his intestines were a better resting place than his piggy bank.
So on the drive home Friday afternoon after picking up Jack (early again) when Duke started complaining of his stomach hurting, panic set in. !!! Obviously The Penny hasn't appeared because it's now lodged itself into his large intestine and is eating away at the lining which will cause lifelong pain and anguish and mean I will have only one shot at grandchildren of my own - and that from the son who has assured me he never wants to get married, only build a house across the lake from us so he can come and have breakfast with me everyday. (Whole other blog post right there).
Ok, maybe not that panicked, but definitely worried enough to get him home quickly to see if it's pain that might be ready to produce The Penny, or something else. After 30 minutes of observation, I felt a call to the doc was probably in order. And his advice? Err on the side of caution and drive back to Children's South (ironically next door to their school where we were 2 hours prior) and have another look see. And this is what we looked and see'd...
So Friday night, Cory reenters life at Sterling Creek Ranch and yet The Penny eludes. It's at this point I realize that I have been a ball of stress, barely hanging onto my sanity. Well that, and also the fact I've agreed to take Duke and a friend to their classmates birthday party on Saturday morning, at the zoo. The wonderful, exciting but not so neutral smelling, Birmingham Zoo. Where the possibility of The Penny making it's appearance is probably a 4 on a scale of 1 to 5 in timing a reappearance. Plastic forks get packed in the purse. Fantastic.
Apparently God is a kind and loving being, for He did not bless me with the opportunity to fork through a toilet in a public restroom (at least this go around). We had a great time at the party - one that was not going to be missed since it was highlighted with an appearance by Chris and Martin Kratt of PBS's "Wild Kratts" and had one little boy quite in awe of meeting someone that's "really on TV!"
But that evening, in not so amazing fashion as it started, The Penny did appear. To both Duke's delight, "Dad I pooped it out! Wanna see????!!!!" And my relief, literally.
And so my friends, although I never thought I would surpass this post on pooping, Duke did it, again.