Thursday, March 22, 2012

Letting Go

It was the last day with Bonnie on Friday. I had tried to take the day off, but I had a banquet for work that evening. I got all ready & then cried all my make-up off. I fixed it, but while my sister was helping me curl my hair I broke down again and ruined my make-up a second time. "If I didn't have to pick one of my coworkers up or deliver these flowers for the banquet, I'd stay home!" I said as I grabbed my make-up bag and determined to put it on later. I never got to- all pictures of me from that banquet should be destroyed...

After the banquet, I spent the evening with my dog, torn between wanting to stay away so saying good-bye would be easier or spending the night on the cement floor of the garage just to be near her. Saturday came too soon. I spent much of the morning with Bonnie & told my Dad that if we were going to take her to the vet, it needed to be in the morning or late afternoon...part of me wanted him to pick the afternoon.

"Ok, give me 20 minutes to eat some lunch and then we'll go" he said. Shocked I went outside and sat on a stepping stone with Bonnie leaning against me. She had no reason to think anything was abnormal, but as she's always done when I'm stressed, she patiently waited by my side with her head on my knee.

Dr. Hill & Robyn, the two ladies at the veterinary clinic eyed me & my Dad as we struggled with the thought of putting Bonnie down. We knew it was the right thing to do, but how horrible to have to make such a choice! Of course they had options that would cost hundreds of dollars and give Bonnie anywhere from 1 week to 3 months...but we didn't see the sense in prolonging her pain.

"We'll take her in the back to put a catheter in & go ahead and give her the sedation drugs so she'll be really sleepy when we bring her back in for you to say good-bye." they said as they spread a blanket on the floor. Gritting my teeth I nodded and gave Bonnie a final pat as they led her away.

My Dad wanted to remember good times & talk about funny memories we have of Bonnie while we waited, but I just wanted to sit still and keep from crying. We were shocked when they brought her back in the room and she was wide awake- secretly I was pleased. "She was such a sweetheart, we figured we'd do the sedation shots in here with y'all so you get a few extra minutes. Are you sure you don't want us to leave you with her for a little while?" "No." I answered quickly. "We've been saying good-bye for weeks." I couldn't go through with it if we didn't do it then.

The vet went through the explanation of the 3 different shots she had - a saline shot to make sure the catheter worked, the sedation drug, and lastly, the drug that would take Bonnie's life. A large pink tube which I hated with all my being.

After the first two shots, the vet became concerned because Bonnie wasn't going to sleep. She left to go and get some more of the second drug while Dad, Robyn-the vet tech, and I stayed there on the floor stroking Bonnie. After a few more minutes, Bonnie seemed to be sleeping and I told my Dad, "I can't stay. I don't want to see them give her the last shot. I just can't watch her die!" "Ok, Sweetie. We can leave when you're ready." I stood up & got my purse then knelt to place a final kiss on Bonnie's soft head. But she sensed my distress- as all good dogs do and fighting the sleeping drug she raised her head knowing something was wrong. I lost it. It was hard to see through the tears. Robyn handed me a tissue. I couldn't leave Bonnie while she was conscious. So we stayed another five minutes until she finally slept. The vet came back in and Robyn asked me if I wanted the collar. "Just the dog tags," I said.

As if it were a formal funeral, the assistant unbuckled Bonnie's collar and handed me the collar and leash as they would hand a widow the American flag at her military husband's funeral...We were ushered out the back of the building so we wouldn't have face anyone.

I have had so many moments where I've thought of my dog this week. I'd think, "It's a perfect day to be outside with Bonnie..." and then remember she's not here. Or a sibling would say, "I can't finish this meat..." and I'd think- Bonnie will eat it! Even this morning when I grabbed a banana I thought, I'll give Bonnie a piece of this and check her water bowl...only to be slapped in the face with the reality that she's gone. We haven't gotten rid of her dog house yet, but my Dad kindly went through the yard and garage and collected all her toys and food bowls and put them in the trash to remove those visual reminders.

It is SO hard to let go. I loved that dog. It hurt when I lost my grandparents- very much, but I only saw them 2-3 times per year. I spent most of my life with my dog. Don't get me wrong- I miss ALL of them. I KNOW I'll see all three of my Grandparents in Heaven because of our belief in Christ Jesus as our Savior...but I don't know about Bonnie. What does God do with dogs? I'm not sure I believe in our pets going to Heaven- I'd like to, but I know that they don't have human souls...and if an exception is made for my dog, then what about the billions of other animals God created? I haven't read anything in the Bible that tells me about this & I'm not really trying to open a can of worms. Just musing a bit.

I'm sorry about all the bleak posts of late. I have a special surprise for my next post, but that will have to wait.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

16 please go away...

I remember being young and thinking: I can't wait til I'm 16!

But today, I got frustrated when I heard some men talking about me. I had to pick up flowers today because I'm making the centerpieces for our Alumni Dinner tomorrow night. As I was walking to my car, there were a pair of men sitting on a bench nearby.

"Haha...look at that little girl with her cart full of flowers. What's a 16-yr-old going to do with all of those?" they said. They continued and said other "forgettable" things but I was blocking out their irritating words and putting flowers in my car.

Hello? I can hear's so rude to talk about people like that. And I am NOT 16.

I know. You may think that I should be "grateful" that people think I'm younger than I am...and I won't mind losing 10 years when I'm 50-60 years old...but I am in my twenties and I want to look it! So I'm thinking of shaving off most of my hair...

Totally kidding- nothing that dramatic. But I am seriously considering what I could possibly do to make myself look older. Here are some things I came up with:

a) Jewelry. I always forget to put it on (and sometimes I feel overdone).
b) Belts. They finish an outfit and are not usually worn by teens (unless they've got major patterns or metalwork on them...(stereo-typing...I know, sorry.))
c) Heels. I just can't bring myself to wear them often- I feel tall enough.
d) Eyes. I like to look natural, but I'm thinking some more make-up to my eyes might make me look older than 16.
e) Hair. I've got to do something with it. It's long and I love it that way, but I need to learn how to put it up into some  "adult" styles because leaving it down makes me look younger.

Any other suggestions? Do any of you get told you look younger than you are?
I am tired of 16.

Other weird moment this year, I was at the pharmacy with my Mom:

Mom: Can my daughter pick up my meds when they're ready?

Pharmacist: Is she even 18? I would need to see i.d.

Me thinking: Really?!?

Monday, March 5, 2012

Making the Call

"If I'd come earlier, would everyone who died...could I have stopped that?"

"We can never know what would have happened, Lucy. But what will happen is another matter entirely."

This is from a conversation between Aslan & Lucy (Chronicles of Narnia- Prince Caspian). It echos the conversation I've had with God at least a dozen times since last May.

The day before my Grandad shot himself, I had a sudden urge to call him. I had never had urges like that before. It was confusing. But I was visiting with one of my dearest friends and thought: I'll call him tomorrow night when I get home. I haven't seen this girl in forever and today is our last full day...

If I'd only known there wouldn't be a tomorrow. If I'd only known that that was my last chance! Was that urge to call him from God? Did I ignore a prompting from the Holy Spirit and in doing so, allow my Grandad to kill himself?? Could I have stopped that?? If I had called my Grandad and told him how much I loved and missed him- would he have avoided killing himself? Would it just have been put off and still have happened? I will never know. I'm so tempted to wallow in guilt and blame myself for his death. How glad I am that I can't know- I would feel like a murderer if I knew I could've saved him if I'd just called. I miss him. What a horrible enemy Death is! A thief- robbing me of one of my greatest mentors and friends.

I have flashbacks to days of fishing. Getting up at 3am to go walking with him...and jogging the whole way because he was so tall and walked so fast. Watering tomatoes in the searing Ozark heat. Trying different meats like deer, squirrel & raccoon that he'd caught or a friendly neighbor gave us. (Coon was the best one, but the meat was gray...weird.)

I have memories of him quoting passages of scripture- especially Psalm 23 & the Sermon on the Mount (in Matthew). Of riding in his pick-up down to Greers Ferry Lake where he'd lead a small Sunday service for the campers. Of singing. Of curling up in old knit blankets and piling family into that tiny living room for meals where we kids would sit on the floor around the coffee table for supper. Of the tire swing he, my Dad and my uncles built one afternoon- and the many hours my cousins and I spent playing on it. Of visiting him randomly when I was doing a Summer Training Program with the Navs in Branson to go fishing! Of his giant hands and his hugs that were so tight they hurt. Of the way he'd drawl: "You sure are special! I love you."

Now I have memories of looking at that peaceful face. Too scared to touch him, but too torn to walk away. Of red-rimmed eyes on my family members. Of humid Ozark heat as we walked to the grave-site. Of looking at the grave marker. Of his big empty chair. And I have a cane fishing pole- the one thing that I requested of his.

How deeply I echo Lucy's question. I swallow tears as I write this. Why didn't I just call him? I missed my last chance to talk to him!! It's something that I regret. Deeply.

As C.S. Lewis wrote: "We can never know what would have happened...But what will happen is another matter entirely."

I have to change my mindset. I have to persevere. I cannot think about what might have been- I must focus on right now. My Grandad is no longer here. I need to give my time to the people who are. Family, friends, co-workers and strangers. That is what I'm here for. I need to fill myself with God's Word and learn more about Him so that I am ready in season and out to share with those around me. God gives and He takes away- blessed be the Name of the Lord.

I want you to know that you are special. You are loved. You are sought after by the Author of Creation!!! "Christ feels strongly about His followers and possesses a holy craving toward us." - James: Mercy Triumphs,Moore p. 58 

What a miracle! Don't despair! Life is hard- Jesus said it would be- but He also said that His burden is light. So, instead of spending the rest of my life wondering if I could have saved my Grandad- I must choose to tune in to God's will for my life and start fresh each morning- searching for the opportunities He's going to give me. I'm not saying I won't fail. I'm not saying I won't cry again about not making that phone call. But I won't let it run my life. That's not who I am created to be. 

"Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." -James 1:2-4