Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Dear Mom

Dear Mom,

I miss you literally every, single day.  Just when I think things are getting a little better, I'm hit with a sound or a smell, and all the emotions come right back.

Anna's about to celebrate her 2nd birthday.  You wouldn't believe how big she's gotten.  And your curse worked.  She's just like me (perfect in every way).  A year ago, we were still hoping to get you home for her birthday.  A year ago, we were still fighting the good fight.

When I look back, I can see all the signs.  I can see that this was always going to be the outcome, but I still can't believe it.  I can't believe you're not here. I can't believe I can't just grab a coffee with you.  I can't believe you're not able to hold Anna or tell her how much you love her.  I know you loved spending time with her.  I can't believe Anna won't remember you.  She loved you so much.  You always made her laugh.

You were always the fun one.  You were goofy, quirky, spontaneous...different.  I always joked and called you my four year old, for you always had a very simple view on life.  Sometimes this was frustrating, as I didn't always want to be the adult,but you were fun.  You made me laugh.

I can't begin to tell you how angry I sometimes get.  Angry at what, I'm not sure.  The situation, maybe?  You, who never complained about an ache or a pain. You who helped me carry boxes to a third floor walk up.  You who trained for a 5k and a 10k just because you wanted to see what all the fuss was about.  You weren't supposed to go so soon.

And then there's the guilt.  When I was little, you always told me that if you ever lost me you'd shrivel up and blow away with the leaves in winter.  That last year was so hard for us.  There'd been so much hurt and so much misunderstanding and so much refusal to understand.  Did you think you'd lost me?  Did you just shrivel up?  If I had held you more, told you I loved you more, just sat and talked with you more, lost my temper less, would things be different?  Logic tell me there's nothing I could have done, but I still wish I'd done those things.

You know, and no one tells you about the anxiety that comes with all this.  If someone as seemingly healthy as you can be taken so fast, how easy can others be gone?  I find myself running farther and harder just to keep the anxiety attacks at bay.  And the attacks are worse than they were.  I find myself pacing, struggling to breathe properly, until I wear myself out and just want to curl in a ball under the covers.  Some have mentioned meds, but you know me.  That's just not my style.

In less than a month it will have been one year.  At this point last year you were already in nursing care.  Our visits at this point usually consisted either of me walking with you / wheeling you around the facility or, more often, sitting and reading while you slept.  If it were a Tuesday (like today) I would have stopped in after my early morning run.  I would have quietly entered the facility via the side door, said hi to the nurses, and gone to sit in your room.  You wouldn't be awake yet, so I'd just read until you woke up at which point you'd try to eat breakfast (although I can't really call what they gave you food) and we'd watch some t.v.  Then I'd tell you I loved you and leave to take care of Anna.  If I was lucky, I'd get to see you again that day.  If not, I'd see you tomorrow.

The last few weeks with you were the worst.  Being in the nursing home felt like being in jail.  I wanted to be home with my daughter, to snuggle her and take care of her, but I couldn't leave you.  I couldn't miss the opportunity to have one last good moment with you.  I knew what the final outcome would be, and yet there was always that bitch, Hope.  I kept hoping, praying for a miracle.  I'd tell myself that Daniel survived the lion's din, and David battled Goliath.  And when, at last, there was no more hope, at first I felt relief.  But now there's just disbelief.  Now there are the times that I forget that I can't just pick up the phone and call you.  There's the time when Anna was playing with my phone and almost called your old number.  I should erase you from my contacts, but I can't bring myself to do it.

I know this letter is rambling, but I thought you should know.  I miss you.  I love you.  I wish you were here.

Your Daughter Always

Friday, February 12, 2016

Who Am I?

Who Am I?  I'm Jean Valjean! 

OK, pardon my Les Miserables reference.  I couldn't help myself.

Anyway, as I posted previously, I started grooming school.  Honestly, I'm enjoying it a lot more than I thought I would.  I wasn't really excited about starting. It was something I needed to do for work, but it involves driving 4 hours every day and grooming was never really something I had a lot of interest in.  Still, I knew I had to do it.  What I'm finding is that I'm learning a lot about myself.

I'm the boss.
At first, what I thought I liked most about school was that I didn't have to be the boss.  People weren't looking to me for advice, and I didn't have to be responsible for anything.  What I quickly realized, though, is that I was constantly jumping in to give advice.  I've worked with dogs longer than anyone else in the class, so I'm always giving tips on how to handle a dog or how to trim nails.  I even pseudo-reprimanded someone for leaving a towel in with a dog until I realized it wasn't my job to reprimand (and I quickly changed to just "giving advice").  So, apparently a large part of me enjoys being the boss.  And when I make a mistake, I'm happy to own up to it.   So, here's my new saying:  Some say I'm bossy, but really I'm the boss. 

I know a lot about dogs.
I mean A LOT about dogs.  Sure, this may seem like common sense.  I've been a trainer for 6 years, I own a kennel, and I enjoy research.  Still, there are plenty of times when I feel insecure.  I often feel like the information I know is common knowledge.  At school, most of the students haven't had any dog experience (other than their own pets), so I'm able to find out what's truly common knowledge.  Do you know what I found out?  I know a lot!  A lot of stuff that isn't common knowledge.  A lot of the things that are being taught, I've taught to numerous other people.  I can practically finish the instructor's sentences because they're sentences I've said before.  It's a huge ego-boost.

I kind of like grooming.
While I still prefer training, grooming isn't terrible, and it's actually kind of fun.  I often look forward to school (although not the drive), and I enjoy the process.  Sometimes it's nice to just be able to focus on your own work and not have be extroverted.  Grooming is great for my introvert side.

So, there ya have it.  That has been my life for the past month.  The biggest downside to everything is my lack of time to myself or with my family.  It won't last forever, though, and at least I'm enjoying it.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Catching Up

I feel as though I'm constantly apologizing for not writing enough.  I'm sorry, and thank you for understanding that life sometimes gets in the way.  Since it's been so long since I posted anything, let me try to catch you up on a little.

The Holidays
The holidays went well.  I'd be lying if I said they were easy.  This, of course, was the first year without Mom, and it made things difficult.  At first, I didn't think I was that bothered by it.  I mean, people would mention how difficult it would be having that empty spot at the table, or how it was now my job to carry on the traditions, and I'd just shrug and think, "Whatever."  You see, I haven't had a "traditional" Christmas since my parents separated 20 years ago.  It was always Christmas Eve with Dad and Christmas Day with Mom.  Sometimes Mom had to work (which sucked), sometimes we just relaxed.  One year we went to the movies, one year we had take out Chinese.  One memorable year, we flew to Utah to see one of my friends.  So, there was never a pattern to follow.  What made this year so hard, though, was that I realized I'd never taken the time to really appreciate the time I had with her.  Last Christmas, when we knew about the cancer, but while it was still in remission, we focused on Anna.  I have pictures of Anna at Mass, videos of Anna opening presents, and lots of memories of Anna, and while I know Mom was there for all of it, I can't remember anything specific.  Actually, I take that back.  I know I ordered a very special, hard to find present for Mom, and it had broken in shipping.  I was never able to find a replacement, and Mom was so disappointed.  I hated that.

All in all, though, the holidays went well.  We enjoyed a lovely day with my Dad and Cindy.  Hans and I spent a lot of time cooking, Anna was cooperative, and we all enjoyed our gifts.  Oh, and Anna made out like a bandit!  So, it was good.

The Kennel
The kennel has be both awesome and sometimes frustrating.  Let me just say that being a business owner can be fun, exhausting, empowering, and isolating.  Still, though, I don't think I'd trade it for anything in the world.  I have a wonderful staff, and while they don't always do things exactly the same way I would, they try their hardest and they really care about things.  That's all I can ask for.

One thing that's particularly new is that I've started grooming school.  This is more out of needing to learn about that aspect of my business than it is about a desire to groom, but so far it's fun.  It's a 4 month long program and it's 2 hours away, so I'm able to enjoy a "lovely" commute every day.  Thank GOD for audio books!  Honestly, the hardest part is balancing home, work, and school life.  I really wish I had a self-driving car so I could get a little more sleep or respond to emails during those 2 hours.

Anna and the Dogs
All my kids are doing well.  Anna is struggling with me not being home as much, so when I am home I'm dedicating all my time to her.  The dogs need A LOT more exercise, so Hans and I are trying to incorporate them into our daily work out routines a little more.  It's not necessarily easy, but we're trying to make it work.

Let me also take a moment to really praise Hans.  He's really been helping out a lot lately.  This past week he's made all the dinners (although we did eat out a few times), he packed a lunch for me every day, he cleaned up so I could have time with Anna, and he's barely complained.  Of course, all that is on top of his 40 hours a week job.  He's been great.

So, that's my life in a nutshell.  I hope to be able to post more soon.  I love my little corner of the internet, and I so appreciate all of you who find me interesting. 

Thank you!