Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Pepper Predicament: All Good Things Come to an End

My dog is dead.

OK, so that's a pretty heavy way to start this off, but it is nonetheless true. Sgt Pepper, my Little Man, has shuffled off this mortal coil.

He's been gone for 12 days now, but it hurts like it just happened yesterday. All those cliches, all those sad, sappy statements... they're all true. Our home feels too quiet and empty. My heart feels like it has a hole in it. I'd give just about anything to hold him one more time, to watch him run down the driveway, or even have him bark incessantly at me for no apparent reason. It was too soon. I need more time. I want him back.

And you know, if you read those statements, they all sound incredibly selfish. Our home. My heart. I need. I want. It seems that it's my pain I'm worried about, when maybe I should be focused on the fact that he's at peace now. No more heart murmur or heart disease. No more thyroid problems. No more arthritis. No more coughing. No more pain. No more medications. By Rainbow Bridge standards, he's young again, full of life (and hair!) and able to breathe. He's free.

As rational as that sounds, and as much as I'd love to say it makes me feel better, I just don't see it that way. Not now. Not yet. Maybe someday? I hope.

For now, I miss him. Even the stupid stuff. I miss hearing him bark bright and early in the morning (or sometimes in the middle of the night) for no reason, or because he was hungry and just couldn't (or wouldn't) wait. I miss playing "Poops or No Poops?" - when we woke up in the morning and headed into the kitchen, we always wondered... would there be a bunch of crap (literally) to pick up or would he have made it through the night? More often than not the answer was poops. But every once in awhile it would be a no poops kind of morning, a pleasant surprise indeed. I miss his excessive prancing at meal times, which sometimes reached the point of recklessness as he crashed into water dishes or trash cans.

Even the things I don't miss - like having to lock the trashcan in the bathroom overnight so he didn't get into it or making sure anything leather was out of reach, lest we lose another shoe or baseball mitt - I would put up with again just to have him around. He wasn't a terribly people-oriented dog. He wasn't cuddly (with us, anyway), he never gave kisses, and he mostly just didn't care if you were around or not. But we had some kind of connection. He would follow me around. He would sleep in my arms in the car. He'd let me hold him in the big bed sometimes.

He let me love him. More than anything, I'm grateful for that.

So here's hoping they have good internet at The Bridge and that you're reading this, Little Man. Because I need you to know that you were so, so loved, and I need to thank you for letting that happen. You let us love you as much as we possibly could, and you let us give you a whole year of being spoiled and doted on. You gave us so much, and I hope you appreciate what we were able to give you as well.

I love you, Little Man. Always.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Dear Mam-maw

Dear Mam-maw,

I told myself to write this letter before now, but I thought I had more time (or at least I tricked myself into believing that). And sometimes it's hard to find all the right words at the right time. I'm not making excuses, just explaining myself and hoping you understand.

When I was three, we came to visit you in Oregon at Dot's house. For years I would bring up playing an organ in Oregon, and to this day I remember playing with the adding machine. I just loved the way the buttons clicked and the sounds it made while it printed out nonsensical figures. That's my first memory with you, but thankfully not the last.

I remember visiting you in Sun Prairie. In Wausau. All over Wisconsin. No matter where you lived, you had a room for me, and I remember picking toys to keep at your place so I'd always have something to do. Among the things I kept at your place was "The Giving Tree" - a book I liked at the time, but wouldn't grow to appreciate until I was older.

You traveled with us to Mississippi to see my uncle and cousins, and then Grandpa Chuck. I remember my parents explaining that you two loved each other very much, but you just couldn't be married. I was six, and while it didn't make sense at the time, I accepted it. You were an independent woman, and always encouraged me to be the same.

You confided in me more than once that you were afraid you hadn't been a good mother. And I know I always told you that of course you were. My dad loves you with all his heart, and you did an amazing job raising him on your own. But what I might have forgotten to say is that you were also an incredible grandmother. Were you always around? No. You moved a lot, and sometimes it would be a few years before I'd see you again. But I always knew you were out there, and if I had needed you, you would've been there for me.

You were always my biggest advocate. When I dropped out of college at 20, you told me that college wasn't for everyone! You insisted that I'd find my own path, and that I'd do great things. When I decided to go back to school, you told me how proud you were and that I could do whatever I set forth to do. And both times, you meant it. You weren't just pandering to me, telling me what I wanted to hear. You truly believed in me. When it felt like everyone else was disappointed or skeptical, you supported me. I probably never said so, but that meant more to me than just about anything else.

I have so many memories of you, and stories are flooding my mind so quickly I'm almost drowning in them. In a good way, though. They're warm and loving and beautiful. They feel like your hugs; a little too tight, as if you're holding on for fear of losing me, except I'm the one holding too tightly now. I want to settle into them, to find the comfort and support I always got from you. And I will. Just not right now. Right now, the only comfort I can find is that you've found peace.

Mom says you can breathe again. I hope she's right and that you're never tethered down again. You're too strong, too independent, too incredible to let anything keep you down.

I love you so very much.

Love Always,
Erika Elizabeth

P.S. Tell whoever's in charge they need to stock up on ice cream for you. Butter pecan. Cones, too.