We Don't Deserve Dogs

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There is never enough time. It doesn’t matter if it’s 87 years, 94 years, 38 years, or six. I have lost loved ones at all of these ages.

Sebastian came into my life when I had just lost my very first dog who was solely mine, Max. Max was a rescue and was a great dog to have around Dakota when he was toddler. He was protective, loving, and regal. I lost him to cancer. I begged him to guide me to another dog when the time was right, and I found my Bassy a week later.

I had no idea at the time how much I would come to depend on him. I had no idea the devastation that was ahead of me and how his spirit would sustain me when my world was pitch black. He always knew how I felt and what I needed.

I discovered early on that he had Epilepsy. I felt assured when the vet told me this was common in full blood Labradors and that it could be maintained with daily medication. And it did just that, for a long time. Every month or so, he would have one but we could manage them.

But on the Sunday of the week he passed, he was having grand mal seizures in rapid succession. Dakota and I rushed him to the veterinary ER and he was admitted and the plan was to put him on a strong I.V. drip of Phenobarbital and Kepra in an attempt to break the cycle. I went to sleep that night missing him but believing he would be okay because we’d had to do this before.

But it didn’t work this time, and he had suffered severe brain damage from the seizures. As with Max, I laid with him while he crossed over, telling him in his ear how much I love him.

Everyone tells me I’m strong, but I certainly don’t always feel that’s true. There are days when I can barely manage to stand up, and losing Bassy who had essentially become my therapy dog, was yet another crippling loss in the past three years.

Again, I asked Bassy to guide me to another dog who needed me and who could help me cope with losing him. Rescuing a dog after losing one is absolutely not an attempt to replace the passed dog. When I got Max, I needed his youthful exuberance to help me be a mama to little Dakota; when I got Bassy I initially needed him to mend my broken heart and then that turned into an even deeper connection as he nurtured and loved me through the loss of Amanda, and my cancer diagnosis.

And now, Finn is here. Finny. A Border Collie/Hound mix rescued from the SPCA, he is calm and grounding, lovable and funny. He shows me that Bassy is here with me still by giving me his paw, standing by the door in the same posture Bassy used when he had to go outside, and his eyes, his eyes. He has Bassy’s eyes. He is so content and is right by my side at all times. I’m so glad we found one another. I am so grateful for all three of my boys.

Bassy, you were the canine love of my life. I will miss you forever. I miss your Frito feet, how you’d bark like a maniac at the church-goers, how you would give me the best hugs whenever I asked for them, how you would stay in bed with me all day if I couldn’t manage to face anything, how you guarded our family with your ferocious exuberance, how you would hold my hand while we slept, our morning cuddles, your precious heart, your pure soul. I will never get over you. You will never be replaced. Wait for me.

forty

I had a wonderful 40th birthday. That number used to terrify me, but when you're thrust into facing your own mortality, it becomes a goal and a thing of beauty. I spent quality time with those I love the most, and it was a perfect transition from my thirties. I've loved every age so far, and I still feel twenty (who is actually in charge here?). 

One of my birthday gifts was a reading with a medium at the Psychic Festival the first weekend in April. This was a gift from my very kind stepfather and he also included a reiki session which I've never had, and was wonderful. I'm so grateful.

I am usually hesitant to share publicly about my experiences with those on the other side, because I have many people in my life who firmly deny an afterlife, which I respect. But my experiences have proven otherwise for me, personally.

The person I have always wanted to reach out to in the past for readings was Nana. She was the closest person to me that I had lost during those visits. Now my Amanda is gone, and I wanted to "speak" to her more than anything.

I had my reading done by Rev. Marjorie Rivera, a fellow cancer survivor. I always come to these tables with high amounts of skepticism and a bit of an attitude, even though every reading I've had has been astonishingly accurate. I also give them no information to go on; if they're connected to the other side, they should know why I'm there.

The session began with Rev. Marjorie telling me that an older woman - classy, elegant, a grandmother figure - was immediately trying to come through but a younger person was gently taking her aside and telling her that she needed to talk to me more. Rev. Marjorie told me this person had passed young, and I slightly nodded, still not wanting to give up any information. She said it was sudden. She said, "Tell me about all these tattoos," and, "She's been answering you when you ask, and she knows what's going on with you." And then I couldn't hold back the tears any longer.

She told me she was standing beside me, a pink aura, and that she rarely leaves me unless she is spending time with her children. I told her that the "answering when I ask" was in reference to a few weeks ago when I cried and begged her to give me signs and a photo frame fell over in the middle of the night, a book literally "jumped" off my bookshelf, and a drawer was open when I came home that was definitely not when I left. All these things happened in the same room of my house, the place where I cried and yelled for her to come back, just come back. Rev. Marjorie said, "She's laughing and said she's sorry if that scared you, but she wanted you to know she heard you."

I wear her ring almost every day. Now, the Psychic Festival has many vendors and there are literally thousands upon thousands of pieces of turquoise jewelry. At one point while Rev. Marjorie was talking, I started fiddling with Amanda's ring and she said, "Amanda says stop messing with my ring and pay attention." If Rev. Marjorie was not entirely sure that was Amanda's ring I doubt she would have taken the chance of saying that since I literally could have just purchased it, even if it just reminded me of Amanda. But Amanda told her point blank that it was her ring. Everything she told me was spot on and brought me more comfort than I've felt since I lost my precious girl.

For my birthday, Deb gave me Nana's favorite ring. She was never not wearing it, even if we were just going to a drive-thru. I've always adored its retro clunkiness and it is monetarily valuable, but I don't care about that. She used to let my co-workers try it on when I was a server, and once she was trying to impress someone and didn't realize she had a giant glob of mashed potatoes on the ring. Deb had the stone cleaned and the band dipped in sterling. I adore it so much and I feel empowered and peaceful when I'm wearing them both. I feel their strength from beyond, and that belief is enough to sustain my heart.

 

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swimming free

So, this post is going to be quite the bummer.

Last Sunday, my mother helped me clean out my fish aquarium. I noticed that my filter was not working, like, at all, so I needed to go buy a new one. I got that and I also got the bottle of stuff you're supposed to put in the tank if you're starting out with a brand new aquarium and you want to add the fish the same day.

We cleaned it out really well, not with any cleansers, but just hot water and paper towels. I cleaned all their little houses and trees and statues, put the new water in, put in fresh gravel, made sure the temperature was right, and then put the fish back inside. We then left the house because Mom and Mike were driving back home, and I had to go back to the pet store because I had bought the wrong size replacement filter.

When I got back, both of my beautiful fish, AnaÏs and Henry, were dead, floating on top of the water like wilted lotus flowers. I screamed and sobbed and kept yelling, "Why? Why? Why?" (Kind of like Nancy Kerrigan did, but this is no time for jokes, dammit). I was truly devastated. I called Deb and was sobbing so hard I could barely get the words out, so she just rushed over. I took some photos of them and cried all over them and kissed them and made them a little casket. 

We went back to the pet store and told them what happened and they said the problem was that I had removed all the bacteria and the cleanliness was too much of a shock on their system. I just kept crying and crying, feeling like the horrific fish murderer I am.

They told me to let the filter run for a week and then the tank would be ready for fish again. June (my sucker fish) survived because they are apparently the cockroaches of the fish world and would survive a nuclear attack.

Anaïs and Henry brought me so much joy, calmness, and beauty. I am so sorry that my ignorance caused their demise. I hope they forgive me. I love you, beauties.

 

Anaïs (top) and Henry | April 15, 2018