Ballot Blues

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Where elections are concerned, I used to have a hard and fast rule: I would not vote for ANYONE who bashed his or her opponent in campaign advertisements. It didn’t matter what I thought about the issues or the candidates. If a candidate couldn’t spend his or her energy telling me how good a job he or she was planning to do, and instead focused on telling me how bad a job his or her opponent was going to do, then I deemed that the candidate was not of the character that deserved my vote, and I discarded him immediately.

And then came the day that my own rule left me no one to vote for. Not a single candidate stood without a stone in his hand.

So I didn’t vote that year.

And I regretted it. Not immediately, and not as a direct result of the winners’ actions. I regretted it eventually through an understanding – and an acceptance – of our political process.

Newsflash: there are no perfect politicians.

Closer-to-home newsflash: there are no perfect people. I should really stop looking for them and expecting them to run for office.

It is human nature, when attacked, to fight back. Rare is the person who can turn the other cheek. Even more rare the person who can turn the other cheek and still win an election. But I believe that any response should be an answer to the original accusation, not an attempt to deflect attention to an entirely separate issue. As an example:

Accusation: “My opponent voted 9 times out of 10 to kill puppies.”

Unacceptable Response: “My opponent says I voted to kill puppies. What he didn’t tell you is that he voted to open strip clubs in every school district in the state. If you care about your children, you’ll vote for me.”

Preferred Response: “What my opponent has stated about me is false. My record shows that I voted consistently against the killing of puppies. If I am elected to serve you fine people, I will continue to vote against puppy-cide and work to implement a puppy protection agency where people can anonymously report incidents of puppy abuse.”

I mean really, is that so hard???

I wanted so badly to just abstain from voting again this year. Fuming one recent morning over my perceived lack of quality candidates, I stopped dead in my tracks as I entered my office building. This poster greeted me and gave me cause to re-think my position on the whole political mess.

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I do hold a prejudice against politicians in general. I assume kickbacks and special-interests and pockets lined with thirty pieces of silver. But prejudices are unfair. They are stereotypes. And they don’t serve to make me or my community any better. What will make my community better? My active participation in the process.

So, despite the fact that there was not a single campaign advertisement on my television that did not slander and defile political opponents, I voted this morning. I put all the negativity out of my mind, and I voted for the people whom I hope are not inherently opposed to my core values.

It was the best I could do.

Maybe Someday

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Maybe someday I’ll stop saying we have two dogs.

Maybe someday I’ll stop missing the thumping of his tail.

Maybe someday, when someone new comes over and meets Mabel, I won’t feel obligated to explain who Mason was.

Maybe someday I’ll be able to talk to someone else about his or her dog without crying for my own.

Maybe someday I’ll remove his name from the heartworm pill reminder on my phone.

Maybe someday I’ll be able to walk down the aisle at PetSmart where his brand of dog food is shelved.

Maybe someday I’ll look at pictures of him without a hitch in my breath.

Maybe someday we’ll have another puppy.

Maybe someday I’ll forget the feel of him curled up under my feet.

Maybe someday I’ll stop missing our old routines.

Maybe someday I’ll stop comparing Mabel’s personality to his.

Maybe someday I’ll be able to laugh out loud at his goofier moments without ending up in tears.

Maybe someday I’ll stop noticing all the “firsts” our family experiences without him.

Maybe someday I’ll be able to see yellow fur and a wagging tail without being reminded of the Mason-size hole in my heart.

Maybe someday.

Not today.

Definitely not today.

Happy Birthday, Monk! We miss you still.

Mason after a stormy night, March 2014.

Mason after a stormy night, March 2014.

Lost Socks

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When we set out to build our house and planned to have less carpet in the new home than in the old one, my primary concern was whether Mason would be able to walk well on the tile and hardwood which would dominate our floors. I scoured Amazon for no-slip dog socks and found a collegiate-looking striped set for Mason. For Mabel, there were hot pink socks with a skull and crossbones design. Most fitting, don’t you think? I ordered them immediately.

Sadly, Mason did not care too much for his socks. Sometimes I think he equated them to cement shoes. Other times, he tolerated the socks for what I was certain was the knowledge that the socks would keep him from sliding across the floor. Toward the end, Mason was so timid about walking on the bare floors that if we couldn’t find the socks, we often had to make a trail of towels and blankets to get him from the living room to the bedroom or vice versa. Admittedly, the socks were a bit tedious. If we did not remove them from his feet on his way outside, he would accidentally leave one in the yard, or more often, the socks would get wet. Trust me, pee-soaked doggie socks are just gross.

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Mason sleeping with his socks on. :)

At one point shortly after last Christmas we lost one sock. Just one. Three remained. Mabel’s socks were too small for Mason’s big ol’ feet, so we rotated the three remaining striped socks in an effort to keep his back feet stable. We must have asked each other a hundred times where that lone sock could have gone. Dom swore Mabel took it.

When we packed up Mason’s things on that last day, we gently placed his three socks with his collar in his food bowl and reverently committed them to a cabinet in the utility room.

Today Mabel followed me into my bedroom and immediately began sniffing around my nightstand. And then she went all-out nutso, digging at the carpet and trying to reach her paw all the way under the nightstand. She was acting like she does when she has cornered a frog or a lizard, so I was nervous about investigating with her. But then again, no way was I going to allow some crawly critter to exist in my home, much less eighteen inches from my side of the bed, so I knelt down and peered under the furniture to see what all the fuss was about. There was something big under there. Something big and dark.

The thing seemed inanimate, so I grabbed a coat hanger and shoved it under the nightstand to hook the unsuspecting prey. Mabel just about came unglued. I pulled out the coat hanger and proudly displayed Mason’s fourth sock. Undoubtedly, he wore it to bed one night and inadvertently kicked it off while he slept in front of my nightstand. And we thought we had looked everywhere for that thing!

I don’t usually get too excited over lost or found socks. But, four months later, this reminder of Mason makes my eyes watery and my heart happy. And Mabel thought it was worth celebrating, too.

Six Months

Tomorrow is the day that the heavens open up and the angels belt out a Hallelujah chorus with us. Dom gets to drive again! I am overjoyed – as is he – but I have to admit, I’m a little sad to see this era end.

In February Dom suffered a seizure as a side effect of a medication. Suffice it to say that neither of us takes anything stronger than Ibuprofen now. During that seizure, Dom basically checked out for twenty minutes. He doesn’t recall any of it. In stark contrast, I recall each and every morbid second of it with amazing clarity, though I honestly try not to think too long on it, as my eyes inadvertently well with tears at the memory of the complete helplessness I felt that night.

Setting aside the brink of tragedy on which we momentarily stood, the most frustrating result of the seizure – when it was all said and done – is that Louisiana law prohibits anyone who has had a seizure from driving for six months following the episode. SIX MONTHS! So said the doctors in the ER. And the doctors that we visited in the weeks following the seizure. And they wanted to put him on more medication in order to study the effects before they would even consider clearing him to drive.

Screw that.

After the last doctor’s appointment where the doctor said the driving restriction was out of her hands, Dom and I sat down on the back patio, furious at the situation and quite certain no law authority knew he had even had a seizure. But what if? You might know from my other blog that we had already gone renegade in our approach to modern medicine, snubbing our noses at prescriptions and conventional nutritional wisdom. But going renegade where state law is concerned? Not our style.

And so we reasoned the potential blessings and benefits of me chauffeuring him around for six months. And now that we are on the other end of the sentence, I can see some of those blessings. But it wasn’t without its struggles. It occurred to me this morning as we barked at each other over school-zone traffic patterns and my overly-cautionary driving habits that I wish I had thought to construct a floor-to-ceiling partition between the driver’s and passenger’s seats of my van. But that, too, would likely be illegal, so it’s for the best that I didn’t think of it until it was too late.

At any rate, our forced carpooling has brought us closer, just as it has sparked many an argument. So as we parked the van in the garage tonight and Dom gathered his sunglasses and parking garage key-card to put back in his truck for tomorrow morning’s solo journey to the office, I have to admit that I was a little sad at the prospect of no longer being responsible for his transportation. It will indeed feel odd to have the passenger seat once again empty more often than not.

We have tossed around the idea of an intermittent carpooling together, in the interest of saving gas. If we follow through with it, you’ll see me in the passenger seat of his truck, kicked back and wagging my finger to direct his driving. Paybacks are hell.

Monkey’s Cardinals

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Don’t worry…I’m not pathetically weepy this week. We are healing. We are slowly adjusting to life with one dog. Mabel is healing, too. She’s different now. Pensive. Surprising.

So here’s the story: From my family’s perspective, cardinals represent our deceased family members checking in on us, at least since my grandmother’s passing in 1996. Rumored to have been her favorite bird, the cardinal became synonymous with her spirit in the eyes of me and my mom. When my grandfather passed away in 2004, my uncle reported a flock of cardinals in PaPa’s backyard. Mom and I thought that a fitting representation of my grandmother calling him home.

The one exception I personally hold for this bird-spirit thing is blue jays, which remind me of my cousin, Sam. It was a blue jay who sat on a tree branch above me and sang on the morning Sam left our midst. I think Sam would have liked that he has his own bird. ;)

My dad embraced the cardinal thing when his last pup died. Now he and Mom both watch for cardinals and report on their backyard bird activity with great respect.

Even though we see cardinals flitting about in the field across the street from our home and even though I have kept a bird-feeder filled, we have never had them visit our yard. I attribute this long-standing absence of birds to Mabel and her stellar lack of hospitality. But yesterday Dom told me he saw a cardinal trying to eat from the bird feeder I recently relocated! Even though I had just cleaned and refilled it, moisture had reached the seeds and clogged the spout through which the seed is made available, so the cardinal wasn’t able to eat and consequently did not stick around. My bird feeder is cute as a button but rather meh on functionality. I cleaned it out again and put it back on the hook in hopes that the birds would return.

One of Mabel’s new quirks is that she doesn’t want to go outside alone.  It was no different this morning, so she ate breakfast in the kitchen while I made coffee. Then we ventured to the back patio together where we spied TWO cardinals playing in the yard, toward the back of the property and sort of near Mason’s grave. I froze, not wanting to scare them, and immediately looked to see Mabel’s reaction. She froze, too, ears perked. I was so afraid she was going to charge the birds. But she surprised me again as she quietly sat down beside me and watched the birds play, a new softness in her eyes. This is Mabel, people. Mabel. I can’t even lie…I started crying.

“Those are Mason’s cardinals, aren’t they, girl?” I asked in a whisper.

Her left ear twitched and four seconds passed before she charged, though quite a bit gentler than usual. The birds flew away and Mabel sauntered back to lay beside my chair.

But I think those beautiful red birds must carry some of Mason’s spirit with them, because one came back to visit the feeder at the edge of the patio. And Mabel let him.

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Love Is…

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  1. Love is “You don’t look like you feel like cooking tonight. Let me take you out for sushi.”
  2. Love is giving him the first omelet, because no matter what I do the second one always burns.
  3. Love is doing the dishes together.
  4. Love is leaving for church an hour early with me every week because I volunteered for extra duties.
  5. Love is being his personal chauffeur for six months after a seizure.
  6. Love is allowing that seizure to change him for the better.
  7. Love is “You mow.  I’ll weed-eat.”
  8. Love is bringing me coffee in the mornings.
  9. Love is “Do you need the hairdryer before I put it up?”
  10. Love is leaving a note on my steering wheel that says he loves being my husband.
  11. Love is deciding together when it was time to let Mason go.
  12. Love is allowing him to bury our sweet dog in solitude.
  13. Love is grocery shopping with me at four different stores twice each month because I’m a product and ingredient freak.
  14. Love is cooking together.
  15. Love is curling into his side and relaxing in his arms.
  16. Love is putting my wayward shoes in my closet for me, or hanging up my purse.
  17. Love is hauling firewood to the back door for him before he gets home from work.
  18. Love is a crackling fire and a glass of wine waiting for me when I get home.
  19. Love is neatly laying out all the freshly-laundered clothes so they’re easier for me to fold.
  20. Love is holding my hand on a long drive.
  21. Love is quoting our favorite movies: “You’re drunk, Lovell,” and “I can’t deal with cleaning up.  Let’s sell the house.”
  22. Love is spending all day watching The Godfather trilogy.
  23. Love is “Lori Darlin’” and cutting the cards.
  24. Love is typing the meeting minutes for committees on which he is recording secretary.
  25. Love is grinning at each other around beams that would become the walls of our home.
  26. Love is “Bless you,” and “Excuse me.”
  27. Love is watching the pressure canner for me while I run an errand.
  28. Love is singing along with the 80′s station at the top of our lungs while the kids groan in the back seat.
  29. Love is wine and cheese for appetizers while the grill fires up.
  30. Love is “Don’t forget the peppers and onions.”
  31. Love is “Crap. I forgot the peppers and onions. Be right back.”
  32. Love is ironing his shirts.
  33. Love is cleaning out my car.
  34. Love is “I’m sorry,” “I was wrong,” and “Please forgive me.”
  35. Love is “I forgave you the minute you said it.”
  36. Love is curling up on the couch together watching It’s a Wonderful Life and agreeing that yes, it really is.

For all the things our love is, and all the things it is yet to be, these 18 years have been the best of my life. I love you forever, Dominic. Happy Anniversary.

 

To Mason

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Hey, Monk. I know you’re busy running around with your new friends. I hope you’ve met Bull and Dayzi, Boo and Emma, and Sadie-Girl. I’m sure you have several new furry friends who are waiting for their family members to come and get them. I doubt you’ve had time to check in on us, what with all the tail-sniffing and tail-wagging you’ve likely been doing since you arrived at The Rainbow Bridge.

I miss you, Monkey. I miss you so much. Daddy misses you even more, if that’s possible. And the kids, omigosh! We’ve emptied three Kleenex boxes in less than 48 hours. I think Vic emptied one all by herself. It rained for the past two days, so today was the first sunny day that I was finally able to sit on my swing next to your grave. Your headstone will arrive in a few more days, proclaiming you The Best Dog Ever. It’s the truth, you know. You were the best dog for us. I hope you know how much we loved you.

Mabel misses you, too. Although she didn’t spend much time with you when we brought your body home for burial, she knew. She tried to play it off like it was no big deal, but she looks for you still. She hasn’t strayed far from my side. Even as I type this, she lays curled up just a few feet from me. It’s funny…the independent dog who loves to be outside doesn’t want to be outside by herself anymore. But, as I sat with you on the swing today, she wouldn’t come close. She stayed far away, choosing to lounge in the sun and gaze our direction. Only when I stood to walk back inside did she come near, and then she eagerly followed me in. She didn’t do much bug-hunting these past two nights. She hasn’t complained, but we can tell by the way she stares out the window or looks at the floor that she misses you.

I don’t worry about you anymore, so that’s the up-side. I find that I am free of the constant concern that you need to go outside and aren’t saying anything, or that you’ve slipped on the hardwood or tile and can’t get yourself up. Or that you’re thirsty. I hope that water bowl in the sky is big enough for you!

No, I don’t worry about you anymore, but I miss you so terribly that it buckles my knees sometimes. I really didn’t know it was going to be this hard. I thought I was ready to let you go. The rational side of me said it was time. And I felt like you were ready. But I didn’t know that I could go for three hours completely accepting of the situation, and then break down out of nowhere, awash with this unutterable feeling of loss. Did we do the right thing for you? Did we wait too long? Not long enough? Only in my tears are there questions, only in my grief, doubt.

I miss seeing you next to the back door when I come in. I awaken at night and listen for your breathing or your cough, maybe even the playful snort as you rub your face on the carpet, “quarter-rolling” as we call it. Daddy misses seeing your head spring up when we enter the room. He buried you by himself, you know. He asked us to let him do it alone. He needed that time with you, that last offering of care for the faithful companion that he loved so much. We know ultimately that we did the right thing for you. Death is a part of life, not the end of it. A segue to a Something More. It’s just that when you stand on the edge of it and peer over the rail, you can’t see the bottom, and it’s terrifying. I don’t like that part. I don’t like it at all.

I still have my necklace on, the paw-print charm that I finally wore on Tuesday. Do you remember me showing it to you? You sniffed at it, but I don’t think you were all that impressed. I had it engraved with your name to honor your place in my heart. In the last two days I have grasped it countless times to calm my mind or steady my tears. I told Victoria that she could wear it too when she needs to feel close to you. She has asked to wear it three times already. I finally took it off and put it around her neck last night. She slept with it. I felt so lost this morning that I woke her up to take it back. She understood. I might have to invest in a charm just for her. ;)

Lots of people have missed you and cried with us. Some of the people you just met a week ago, some you’ve known for years. Vic’s friends all cried and posted sweet notes for you on Instagram. They all loved you. You are very hard not to love, Monkey!

I had decided one time that Heaven likely occupies the same space that we do, just veiled by a shimmer that separates the dimensions. A “grey rain-curtain,” as Tolkien said. I hope that’s true. It gives me comfort to think that you can still run around in our yard, even if we can’t see you. Not everyone understands the loss of a pet. Some of my friends will think I’m crazy. Some of my friends will think I’m mis-informed, or worse, sacrilegious when they learn that I believe you will be in Heaven with me. A dog with a soul? Yes, a dog-soul. Not a human soul. Something different…better. Because you were better than human. You loved everything. You loved unconditionally and without prejudice. You showed us by example how we are supposed to love each other. Humans are supposed to be smarter than dogs, but I’m not sure we measure up. You are an energy, Mason. And energy can be neither created nor destroyed; it just is. I believe that energy is soul-like. And that yours, like many beloved pets, exists on a plane somewhere between Human and Angel. Closer to Angel, I believe. Definitely.

Go run and play some more, Monkey. We love you.

Big Yella Heart

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Most pet owners think their pet is the best. The cutest. The most adorable. The most personable. I am, of course, no different. In our home, Mason and Mabel provide sympathetic comfort, fierce protection and comic relief. Actually, Mason takes charge of the first duty, and Mabel sees to the latter two items. But I digress.

Mason was chosen from a litter of free full-blooded Labrador retrievers in Benton, Louisiana. (“Free” because his mama’s owners were divorcing and hell-bent that neither party would profit from the puppies.) He was one of two yellow males in the litter. We picked him because while his brothers and sisters were gnawing on each other and brutally stepping on each other’s faces, Mason took every opportunity to worm his way to the bottom of the puppy pile. I knew instantly he was a snuggler. And that he was mine.

We painted his toenails fuchsia to claim him as “sold” and left him with his mama just a week or so more. On November 14, 1999 we brought a five-week old bundle of yellow, snugglable joy to our tiny apartment, just two weeks before we would move into our first house.

Mason was a typical puppy. He loved chewing his toys. He loved chewing my shoes. He loved chewing our satellite TV remote controls and costing us a bloody fortune. He chewed five cabinet doors, three sofas, and one baseball-size hole in the garage wall. He was spoiled rotten, one time barking at the ceiling fan because it wasn’t on (as he lay sprawled across our bed) and he was apparently too warm for his personal comfort.

Just four weeks after bringing Mason home we learned that I was pregnant with our first child. Mason was a wonderful companion during the sofa-rest days at the end of the term, laying beside me on the couch and gently resting his head on my oversized belly. I knew he sensed what was going on. I told him over and over again, “You have to protect this little guy and be his best friend, okay?” His eyes and tail would answer enthusiastically. Anxious about childbirth and motherhood, I would snuggle with Mason and tell him all the things that worried me. One afternoon I cried for half an hour because I could not imagine how in the world I would love my child as much as I loved Mason. He was my first baby. And although I knew I was being ridiculous, the tears flowed freely.

For eleven years (until he could no longer jump up on his own) Mason slept in the bed with us…with his head on my pillow. He would curl up on my side of the bed while I took my makeup off and brushed my teeth. He was incredibly warm-natured, and we referred to him as “The Heater,” because I could always count on him to warm up my side of the bed. Then, I would make him move so I could lay down, and we’d call him back up between us by chanting, “Monkey in the middle!” Mason would put his back against me, nuzzling the top of his head just under my chin. My arm would wrap over his body and under his front leg so that my hand could rest in the thick fur at his neck. He was my 88-pound security blanket.

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Mason loved life. He loved the life he was living, and he loved all forms of life around him. The dogs of my childhood were great “buggers,” nailing and consuming any bug that dared enter their domain. Mason was just the opposite. I remember watching Mason watch a bug saunter across my garden-room floor. He perked his ears up in curiosity, but made no effort to approach the bug, much less kill it to protect me. I joked that as Mason watched the bug cross his path, he was thinking to himself, “Hi, little dude. Kitchen’s that way.”

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The squirrels in the back yard were given the same courtesy. Upwards of ten squirrels would be playing in our yard when I would open the door to let Mason outside. They would all freeze in position and look toward the door. Then it was as if they realized, “Oh, it’s just Mason!” and they would carry on like no one was there. Mason had no interest in being territorial. Sometimes he would lay in the grass and just watch the squirrels play. Our next door neighbor would often come to the fence to pet Mason, once while holding a new kitten in her arms. Mason jumped up and enthusiastically slurped the kitten across the face, completely soaking the freaked-out cat.

Although he good-naturedly enjoyed life around him, Mason loved two things with absolute unbridled passion: my best friend/sister-by-choice, Stacey, and the flashlight. Stacey used to joke that she and Mason must have been lovers in a past life because Mason could not stand to be more than two inches away from her during her visits. As for the flashlight, whenever we would extricate Mason from the middle of whatever project involved the beaming tool and set it on the counter, Mason “went to Temple,” sitting in front of it, staring patiently in statue-like worship, waiting for the light to come to life and do its magic once more.

Mason, Stacey and Victoria; Thanksgiving 2012

Mason, Stacey and Victoria; Thanksgiving 2012

When Mason was five years old we discovered that he had food allergies. We changed his food to a grain-free, dye-free, artificial-ingredient-free, expensive-as-all-get-out dog food, and nixed the PB&J sandwich crusts and McD’s French fries from his diet. And he rocked on. (Though I learned later that the kids would still sneak their crusts to him!) However, ear problems plagued Mason like nothing else. Those soft, floppy ears would get bacterial infections just about every time it rained. Mason despised his routine ear cleanings. All we had to say was, “How are the ears?” and he would duck his head and slink out of the room. The frequent infections earned him the nicknames “Funkmeister” and “Funky Monkey.” The biggest problem with the infections was the force with which Mason would shake his head. We always worried that he would burst blood vessels in his ear, and then one day, he did. I reached out early one morning to stroke his ears and felt a huge bulb under the fur. Mason’s ear looked just like a sopapilla! It required surgery, and he took every opportunity to look pitiful and elicit sympathy for the injustice he had suffered.

Happy Birthday, Mason!

I firmly believe that the love Mason gave and received combined with the dietary choices we made for him kept him healthy and happy for a much longer time than we might have been originally allotted. A little over a year ago, our veterinarian diagnosed him with an enlarged esophagus and a potentially enlarged heart. But we already knew he had a big heart. We were fortunate enough to be held within it.

For fourteen years Mason has been a source of soft and cuddly comfort in our home. My children have not known a single day without him. Dom and I fell so hard in love with this creature that we do not want to know a day without him. But now we must. We never wanted Mason to suffer. As we watched Mason age and struggle with the effects of being an elderly large-breed dog, Dom would frequently ask me, “Is it time?” and I would always answer, “No, not yet.” I reasoned that as long as Mason still looked happy, as long as he could get himself where he needed to go, and as long as his tail still wagged and ears still perked up when he saw us, that it would not be time. But the day came when Dom once again asked if it was time, and my heart broke wide open as I finally said, “Yes.” Quality of life is more important than quantity, and Mason gave us more quality than we could have imagined possible.

We chose to take Mason to the vet for the final time during the first week of summer when Dom and I were both off work and could be with the kids and Mabel for the whole week as we adjust to life with one less heartbeat in our home. I held Mason close in the back of my van and stroked his ears as he drew his final peaceful breath, whispering to him that I loved him and that I would see him again, because no Heaven of mine will be complete if he is not there.

Dom laid Mason to rest in the backyard in the spot I picked out while we were building our house. He rests now between our lounging swing and a crepe myrtle, within arm’s reach from where I will spend my time relaxing, just as if we were enjoying any normal day, with him curled up at my feet.

As I searched for the perfect words to express how I feel today, I came across this quote from Winnie the Pooh: “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” (A.A. Milne). Thank you, Lord, for blessing us with this gentle giant and his big yella heart.

My favorite picture of Mason and the kids, Spring 2007

My favorite picture of Mason and the kids

In Memoriam: The Greats

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In the course of the last seven weeks Dom and I have lost three of our great-uncles. Though I recall only recent visits with the two uncles on my side of the family, I was accustomed to seeing Dom’s great-uncle at Mass every Saturday. All three men were spry, witty and energetic for their ages. I loved looking through their photos and hearing them reminisce with tales from their youth – or, at the very least, tales predating my own youth. It is not lost on me that we were blessed to have known these uncles for so long, to have been a part of their lives and to have had them as a part of ours. They loved and treasured their families and are greatly missed by those of us who were fortunate enough to enjoy their company on this earth.

Lawrence Louis Ebarb
September 27, 1923 – February 19, 2014

Uncle Larry (far right) with Uncle Alvin and twin sister Aunt Florence

Uncle Larry (far right) with Uncle Alvin and twin sister Aunt Florence

Roy Emanuel Harris
September 16, 1927 – March 25, 2014

Uncle Roy with sisters Martha and Chris

Uncle Roy with sisters Martha and Chris

Keith Eldon Wilson
June 16, 1926 – March 28, 2014

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Have you ever seen a more contented smile?

 

Though I believe each of these dear men are now happily reunited with loved ones who have gone before us, my heart breaks for our family members who feel their loss so deeply: my grandmother and our great-aunts who have said goodbye to their brothers and husband, our second-cousins who will miss their dads, and also for our first-line aunts and uncles as well as our parents – Dom’s mom and my dad – who can recall these towering personalities from their own childhoods. I pray the Lord will hold them close through their sorrow and bestow unending peace upon them.

Times of loss bring the words of Tolkien to me with immense comfort: “End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path. One that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass. Then you see it!… White shores, and beyond. A far green country, under a swift sunrise.”

Hail and Farewell, sweet and gentle men. May you rest eternally in peace.

Six Short Years

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I leave my children chatting in the hallway outside their bedroom doors.  As I crawl into bed, my sixth grader and my eighth grader verbally rib each other in a way that only siblings can. They get loud for a brief moment.  The high-pitched giggle, the playfully exasperated growl.  I imagine that their antics will rouse Dom and bring out the Daddy-growl, but he breathes steadily beside me.  I won’t be reminding him tonight that someday we will miss this revelry.  The quiet we often long for will cover our home like a blanket soon enough.  These two noise-makers will grow up and leave our chipper little nest.

Tonight their chatter reassures me.  Before I am aware that the banter has stopped I hear his door close.  The hallway dims with the flip of her switch.

Silence.

I stare into wordless darkness for a few minutes before I bury my face in the pillow.  I pray that I will remember to appreciate the noise in our house, as it will only last for the next

six

short

years.

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