Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


1 Comment

Grief Brain…Again

Once again, I find myself blaming grief brain. I know I’m a bit klutzy and spacey regardless, but when it gets ramped up, I finally remember that grief brain is a real thing. Some things will make you chuckle. If you don’t learn to laugh at yourself, you’re in real trouble. Other things make me cry, though. Perhaps people in grief should just be locked up for six months or so. For everyone’s safety…

The dreaded yearly mammogram came and went without incident this year. Well, almost. The happy part was that I didn’t have to go back several times and try not to freak out while I was waiting. I got that carnation on the first go. I took the flower, my purse, my coloring book, my pencils, and my half-drank tea and said goodbye for another year. When I came back the woman smiled and said, “I wondered where you were going.” Now I like those cute pink robes they give you, but thank God I realized I hadn’t put my clothes back on before I fully went out into the waiting room.

Disaster averted, I go to the locker room and get proper. I am again out of hands so I put the half cup of tea in my mouth. I’ve got this. Except the damn curtain wouldn’t open up. I look up to see where it is caught and that does it. Tea right down my nose. And all over my shirt. And my coloring book. I swear, it’s amazing I stay alive sometimes.

I am particularly proud of balancing two months of Dad’s checkbook. I always do it to the penny, but this time I couldn’t believe I pulled it off. I was so distraught about all the memories as I was doing it, that I kept transposing numbers and putting things in the wrong column. A few sniffles later (or a lot) I balanced it. Phew.

Yesterday I walked Taffy as usual. She’s getting old and more anxious. Right before we got back to the car she took off. She doesn’t have the energy to do it much anymore so she surprised me. When she bothered to come back, she was covered in burrs. Her tail had two massive balls the sizes of grapefruits. No, I’m not exaggerating. She just looked at me with guilty but pathetic eyes. She knew she was in pain…and in trouble.

I brushed her the best I good and a great number came off while I was in the park. Then I got home with her and sat in the driveway with the scissors. All was going painfully slowly but well until I saw the blood on the concrete. I yelled for Colin. (Sometimes I wonder what that man thinks of me. Then I realize I REALLY don’t want to know.) Best we could tell, I nicked the tip of her tail.

Now there wasn’t a LOT of blood, but it was everywhere. On the walls, the kitchen floor, the bathroom shower, wherever her tail flung around. She wasn’t crying but we were freaking out. Any mom will tell you that she would rather cut off her own hand than one of her kids. Luckily, one of my walking friends is a nurse. Thank God she answered her phone and came right over. She thought it was hilarious but she had the benefit of knowing Taffy wouldn’t bleed to death. Colin and I were not so sure.

I finally ran to the neighbors and got some cornstarch. We dipped her tail in it and the bleeding stopped. Then we just had to clean up the blood, which had dried by then. Today I finished getting the last of the burrs out with the clippers. Tomorrow she goes to the grimmer who will fix her up. I thanked Colin for not telling our Florence Nightingale about the time I cut his hair and snipped his ear. That was the last time he ever let me touch him.

Nothing terrible came of it, but I was still sick all night. My head just isn’t in the game. It hurts to miss Dad so much. It might sound weird, but I am taken aback by how much I miss him. I felt closer to Mom over the years, but Dad has become part of my tapestry in a way that I can’t describe. I’m closing with one of my favorite pictures of us. What you have to see is the smirk in his face. That nails the dynamics between us right there.

2017 Nov 24 (3).jpg

Now I’m going to try to stay out of trouble for the rest of the day. Wish me luck.

Got any stories to share?


2 Comments

Life Lessons

Have you ever made a big mistake? Like one with deep regret? I had that happen this week. My dog Taffy has been getting a bit more of a pain the older she gets. Let’s just say that a few months ago she was diagnosed as “neurotic” and given a prescription for Prozac when she needs it. No, I’m not kidding. She was perfectly normal when she started living with us seven years ago. Just saying. This is a picture of her in my car.

Taffy

Taffy

Last week she ran out of the car and crossed the street to chase a squirrel, right in front of a car. Now I have to leash her from the car to the woods, then when we leave the woods to the car. It’s less and less I can let her off the leash. This week, I took her to the creek at the end of the walk and let her go in for a drink. That stinker took off to the other side of the creek and went down past the bridge. I followed her as far as I could but then lost sight of her. There is nothing to do at that point but go home and wait for someone to call me.

Eventually the call came. It showed up as “police” so I answered and said, “Do you have my doggie?” The officer laughed. He said he had Taffy and she was under arrest. He couldn’t capture the other one. I was confused so he asked how many dogs I had. He said Taffy had found a friend which was probably why she ran away. He was waiting at the parking lot where I had walked her. She always comes back. She isn’t really running AWAY from ME, she is just running.

Well I pulled in and that is when I made the big mistake. I could have won the best Facebook post of the year. If I was Catherine, I would have never made this mistake. I didn’t even think to ask to take a picture. There was Taffy, sitting in the back of the police car, looking out the window. Her face was priceless but predictable. It said, “What? What? I didn’t do ANYthing!” I could’ve died. The officer and I had a big chuckle over it. When I drove off with my naughty girl who now has a police record, that’s when I regretted not getting a photo of her.

LESSON: Always take a picture, even if there are cops involved.

My sister was over yesterday and she said how last week’s blog was her favorite. I told her that I totally forgot about Frankie’s Louis Armstrong impersonation, which is quite impressive. I asked him to do it for her and of course he utterly refused. In fact, he refused for hours. I told him about the blog and he got really offended. He said, “Mom!! You can’t write about me unless I give you permission. You can’t!” I told him I used his writing name Frankie, but he knows that is bull because most of the readers know who he really is. I decided it best at age 14 to not inform him that legally, I own him and his rights until he is 18. I found that out when I wrote the first book. (Incidentally, you also own your dead spouse’s rights in case you ever need to know.) On a serious note, I really do try to think about how he might feel when he is older and I am hoping he will appreciate what I have done when he is at an age where he doesn’t think everything I do is ludicrous.

LESSON: It’s okay to leave out information if it saves you from a teenager’s yelling and screaming for a few hours.

SERIOUS LIFE LESSON: No matter what heartache life brings you, no matter what loss – don’t ever let the loss be your sense of humor.


6 Comments

GAME OVER

I think I’m officially done. Except I don’t really know what that means. At first, I thought of just crying, “UNCLE!” but that doesn’t seem to cut it. So the phrase that comes to mind is simply, “GAME OVER.”

For the last decade, I have lived my life like I always have. I put people and their feelings first. I suffer discomfort for the sake of others or in order to accomplish some higher goal. I have invested a lot of myself into my neighborhood. I started the block party several years ago and make an effort to have phone numbers and invite people over regularly. Good to have a great relationship with your neighbors, right?

When Frankie was in infant, my neighbor had a St. Bernard. Huge breed, but also an extremely gentle breed. Usually. However, this one decided he didn’t like us. My neighbor asked me for sleepers that Frankie had slept in. She wanted her dog to get used to Frankie’s scent. That way the dog would be less likely to eat my baby for a snack. As a new mom, I can tell you I thought that was pretty screwed up, but I gave her the pajamas and prayed nothing would happen.

Eventually that dog died and then there more. You are only supposed to have two dogs per property, but my neighbor had four at one point. Did I turn them in? Of course not. I wanted a good relationship with them. One time, one of the dogs bit our handy man. Did I turn them in? No, of course not. Then we decided we had to put a fence up. We asked their opinion about the style because we wanted them to be happy with it too. We were sensitive to the fact that they would have to look at it too. The Home Depot people thought I was nuts. But hey, we want a good relationship with our neighbors, right?

The fence went up but I still couldn’t do my yard work without that dog sticking his vicious jaws through the slats as he was trying to attack me. I finally risked the relationship and asked the family to do something. They added chicken wire over the fence so the dog could no longer have access to my hands. It still scared the crap out of me because it clearly had only one mission and that was to hurt us, but hey, the relationship with my neighbors was more important, right?

Then my daughter got married. We had the rehearsal dinner in our backyard. The same dog bit the maid of honor because she was talking and had rested her hand on the top of the fence. Did I turn them in? Of course not. Who is really the idiot here? Me. I’m the one at the fault. Fascinating that when I called to let my neighbor know what happened, she started yelling at me. She said she had put the wire up and there was no way she was putting the dog down. I calmly (of course) told her she needed to take a deep breath. Her dog bit. I never asked her to put the dog down, nor was I yelling at her. I just thought she should know the dog had bitten again.

Then they got a German Shepherd. Didn’t take long for that dog to just eat right thru the fence. Then they had to put up another chain link fence. Then the dog started to attempt to jump over the fence and was in danger of doing so. They had to add yet another layer of fence. Now that dog is even muzzled. But hey, as long as I don’t hurt their feelings, I can put up with anything, right?

They have had five dogs since I’ve lived here. Three of them have been vicious. No one can believe what I put up with when they come over. It’s impossible to describe if you don’t see it yourself. It’s not just like an annoying dog barking. They lunge at the fence and growl and bark and make you shake. And I just look at people at say, “But we like our neighbors and I want to keep it that way.” When you leave your dogs outside 24 hours a day, when you don’t walk them or socialize them, they become like wild animals. Savage.

Monday was November 2 and it would have been Tim’s 54th birthday. I texted with a couple of the kids in the morning and I thought it seemed like it might be a bearable day. That is, until about 10 AM when Colin came bursting in the house screaming my name over and over.

Same dog that has bitten twice on my property, same dog that I found out has bitten the neighbor on the other side three times, brutally murdered our beloved cat Matilda.

Matilda

Matilda

She was barely a year old and she was beautiful. She was an extremely gentle kitty. And she made the hideous mistake of walking home near those dogs. Poor Colin. He heard the screams. He ran over to their yard, trying desperately to get his kitty from the mouth of the dog. When my neighbor finally heard it, he came out and got the dog to drop her. That was when Colin came in the house screaming. We rushed her to the hospital. They tried CPR, but it was too late. Did you know that when intestines are punctured there is a putrid smell? We couldn’t bear it.

All I can say is, our household has been suffering the last week. The closest way to describe it is like suffering from PTSD. The kids have decided the only way those people could possibly understand what we are feeling, is for them to be forced to watch their precious dog be eaten before their eyes. They need to hear the screams. They need to smell the aftermath. And then every day afterward, they need to hear and see the killer whenever they dare to walk outside their home.

Because that is what it is like for us here. There is no peace. There is no escaping it. Those three dogs are outside and they still bark and still lunge at us.

I don’t give one flying fuck that our cat was in their yard. I don’t care that our cat was an indoor/outdoor cat. THIS IS NOT WHAT HAPPENS. IT WAS NOT OUR FAULT. THERE IS NO EXCUSE.

Even the dog warden said that being territorial is what is normal. Killing is not. Dogs know the difference between a wild squirrel or rabbit. They DO NOT KILL DOMESTICATED ANIMALS.

I will tolerate nothing less than that dog being gone. Terminated or moved off the property. Even as I’m writing this, my dog Taffy is pacing around the house and barking because those dogs are outside going nuts at our fence.

Game over. I’m not the bigger person. There are no cheeks left to turn. THIS IS NOT WHAT HAPPENS, THIS IS NOT HOW DOGS ACT, and THESE ARE NOT DOG LOVERS. Bullshit.

No more neighborhood parties. No more bigger picture. My kids are going through hell. I am going through hell. This is MY fault for not turning them in dozens of times. I will never make the same mistake again. This is not just, “Oh that poor family, they’ve gone through so much.” We didn’t just lose yet another pet. She was brutally murdered. We are victims of a violent crime. And the stupid system protects them, not the victims.

We can’t use pepper spray because if it injures the dogs, we are liable. Yet their dogs can KILL our pet, and nothing is done. In what world does that make sense? Oh yeah, in America.

Game over. I am officially going reclusive. I can’t invest anymore. I can’t try anymore. I can’t risk anymore. I will just keep to myself and be like most people. They won’t get involved or stand up for us because no one wants to ruffle feathers. And hey, Matilda wandered in their yard so that makes it all ok.

BULLSHIT. Vicious dogs don’t belong in friendly neighborhoods. When a toddler or child gets their arm or head chewed off, then everyone on this street should be held responsible for allowing this dog to be here.

As my kids say- and I have to agree with them- anyone that makes these kinds of statements:
“Dogs will be dogs”
“Cats are too curious”
“I’m sure they feel bad”
“Just let it go”
“Cats shouldn’t be outdoors”
“Oh, this is a shame”

My kids say all of these people that don’t get it, need to watch something special to them die. This was not unfortunate circumstances. This was negligence, wrong priorities, insensitivity. Completely unnecessary. And my kids and I have had enough.

GAME OVER.


2 Comments

Patterns and Such

I saw my spiritual director Ellen again today. She is a calm soul. No matter how chaotic I feel when I go there, I end up leaving feeling more sane. I told her today she is like a “deep breath.”

Today we were talking about various subjects and I realized that it was pretty obvious that I choose the same type of thinking in many areas of my life. For lack of a better word, we were talking about openness.

For those who know me, they would laugh at me saying I’m a bit anal. A bit OCDish. They would laugh at the “bit” part. But on the other hand, I am very open and flexible which is kind of an odd mixture.

It starts with my dog Taffy. Frankie gets frustrated with me because Taffy runs away regularly. Ultimately, it is my fault because I don’t leash her very often. It is a little embarrassing because when your dog runs away a couple of times a week, you leash her, right? If she ever got hit by a car or something, I would never forgive myself. Frankie would never forgive me. Keeping her on a leash is actually for her own good, right?

But I can’t stand to leash her. We go in the creek or the woods almost every day. Most of the time she doesn’t go far. She just likes to sniff around, hunt a little, and then trot to catch up and will go ahead of me for awhile. If she chases a duck, deer, or rabbit (or whatever!) she runs so fast and free. She loves her little life. She loves her independence. It’s not that she wants to run away from me, I don’t think. She is my shadow. I can’t even go to the bathroom without her being next to me. But she just loves to be free and go at her own pace.

The trade-off is, that if she runs, I really can’t be mad at her. I get mad at her anyway though and I have spent countless hours talking with her. I explain clearly that if she likes to be off the leash, then she can’t run away. I think she is listening intently but she obviously doesn’t understand.

So am I reckless? Irresponsible? I hope not. I choose to be “hands off” as much as possible and most of the time it’s not a problem. But the price is when she runs I have to worry and run around like a big goof looking for her. I have to deal with Frankie being disgusted with me. But when I see her run in all her glory, I have to admit, it’s worth it. My “parenting”style has its drawbacks, but it sure has its good moments too.