Missing My Mom on Mother’s Day

I miss my Mom every day but it’s brutal missing my Mom on Mother’s Day.

I’ve been dreading this day: the first Mother’s Day without my beautiful Mom. It’s gut-wrenching, and even more so than I expected coming on the heels of losing my precious Luca just days ago. Honestly I don’t even want to get out of bed today. And I might not.

But I did want to honor my Mom with a blog post today. I’m still grieving her loss and it’s been nearly a year now. I’ve been working on a tribute post for her but I haven’t yet finished it. I’ve been really struggling with it actually and I’m not quite sure why. After my Dad passed I had his tribute up in two days.

I’ve run the gamut of emotions these past eleven months. At times I felt like a pinball being flung around aimlessly and other times I was just plain stalled out, incapable of moving. I was removed and withdrawn from friends, having no desire to engage with anyone at all; and then when I did engage, I often had outrageous reactions very uncharacteristic of the person I am. I was angry, I was depressed, I was sad, I was envious of people who still had their moms and the unfairness of it all was a burning sting.

I felt extremely guilty about not finishing the tribute post that I had started. I’m no stranger to procrastination, that’s for sure, but I’ve really felt enormous guilt for not completing Mom’s tribute, as if I were letting my Mom down by not posting it and I wasn’t honoring her in the way she deserved to be honored.

Self-imposed deadlines came and went (“I’ll post it at the one month anniversary of her passing,” “The three-month mark will be a perfect time to post it,” “The six month anniversary is coming up and I really need to get this done”…). The more time that passed the more guilt I felt. I talked to a grief counselor about it because I was truly baffled at how I just seemed absolutely unable to finish it, and at the same time how could I dare let her down like this and not honor my amazing Mom?

I’m glad I did talk to that grief counselor because I was able to at least quit beating myself up about it. He even said it wasn’t uncommon at all. How so? He said he often sees grieving people experience this same type of delay hurdle, like when one is not able to write the obituary or one can’t seem to order the headstone. He said it’s as if those things – and my tribute post – represent finality. An ending that can’t be reversed. Completing these things is like putting the period at the end of a sentence. Finality, like reaching that last word when you’re reading a great book that you don’t want to end.

I really got that. THAT hit home. So yeah, all this time has passed in these last eleven months and I haven’t been able to put the period at the end of the tribute sentence.

As today approached, I knew that Mother’s Day has forever changed for me. It will never ever be the same. Perhaps today, a day when people the world over honor their mothers, would be the perfect day to finally publish the tribute post for my Mom.

HOWEVER, yesterday I opened the Word document, started scrolling through it to see what else it needed to be complete and came to this realization: Holy Crap! This tribute is 11 pages long – and that’s without the photos! The word count at this point is showing to have 335 lines of text and nearly 6000 words! I can’t expect anyone to sit and read through all that!

So… I decided (this won’t surprise my blogging friends, I’m sure) to do a Mom Series. I’ll be able to share all that I want to share about my Mom, but just in smaller chunks. My Mom Series will be forthcoming.Today’s post is simply going to be a shout-out to my Mom and to all the amazing mothers out there.

I saw this on a Mother’s Day card and I really liked it:

When a mother says “I love you,”
she also means “I’d do anything for you.”
When she wishes you “Good night,” she’s saying “Your dreams are my dreams, too.”
And when she calls out “See you soon!” she’s promising
“I’ll be with you wherever you go.”

I miss my beautiful Mom so much! I talk to her all the time. And I sure hope the last line in that verse is true. I hope she is with me wherever I go. She is of course always with me in my heart, but I hope her spirit tags along with me too. There are so many times, several times a week, or a day even, when I find myself saying, “Mom, I wish you were here to see this!” or ”I wish you were here to do this with me.” or “I wish you could go with me today.”

Thankfully, my Mom is in my dreams often.

And those are the very best dreams.

Happy Mother’s Day Mom. I love you! 

 

And Happy Mother’s Day to all the wonderful mothers out there!

REMEMBERING MAGGIE

I adopted Maggie on June 7, 1999. She was just 3 years old then. And she was my first greyhound: she awakened my love for all things canine and was the start of my life with dogs.

reverse brindle greyhound

We don’t know any real background on Maggie because she was double tattooed. National Greyhound Association, aka NGA, racing greyhounds are registered and tattooed on the inside flaps of their ears. In one ear is the owner/breeder ID number and in the other is the month and year of birth. When the dogs are illegally disposed of or sold to be used for underground racing, often the owner/breeder tattoo number will be obliterated so that the dog can’t be traced back to them. Maggie had such a tattoo. She was rescued from a rabbit-runner bust and, according to the adoption coordinator, the dogs that were rescued from that underground circuit were in terrible shape. When they got to Maggie, she had to be carried out because she was too weak to walk on her own. She was only 38 lbs when they found her —and her regular weight was supposed to be 65-68 lbs.

She was a two-time bounce-back with the adoption group. A bounce-back is when a dog who had been adopted out is returned. I always found that hard to believe because Maggie was such an incredible dog!  Apparently the first family had adopted her when the husband had a home-based business,
but then he got a job outside of the home and Maggie started peeing in the house, so instead of working with her on it, they gave her back. The second woman who adopted her said she couldn’t control her (Maggie was very strong-willed!). So ironically –but I believe it was actually fate– the day that Maggie got returned for the second time, the woman dropped her off at the GPA Meet & Greet and I just happened to be going over to there to hand in some additional adoption application paperwork.

I’ll never forget the first time we met. They told me her story and said that if I wanted to take her, she was mine. They suggested I walk around with her for a little while, which we did. I took her outside for a walk on the grounds and was sweet-talking to her but she was completely unreceptive to me. I kept telling the adoption coordinator, “She won’t make eye contact with me.” It was bothering me so we sat down on
the steps and I just talked to her and petted her and she just kept averting her gaze. But finally, after what seemed like a very long time, she turned her head and looked into my eyes. And that was it. The bond was established. And it would be one of the most incredible bonds of my life.

the bond between pet and human

Maggie was a love-bug. And everyone who met her fell instantly in love with her. She simply and immediately captured the hearts of everyone who spent any amount of time with her. My vet described her perfectly: “There was something very special about Maggie. She was a real lady.” And that she was.

She was also fun, funny and goofy. Especially at dinner time: she would go into one of her playful modes while I was preparing dinner for the dogs. She would start tossing around the toys in the living room, twirling around in circles and diving at the toys, then throwing them up in the air again and again. This would go on for a few minutes until she had worn herself out. Then she’d come to the doorway of the kitchen, panting, with this big grin on her face, in anxious anticipation for her dinner to be set down.

And just two days before she died, she did exactly that. When she was standing in the doorway that day, I looked at her, laughed and said “Boy, Maggie, no one would ever believe you were 13 years old!” She was actually just two months shy of 13 when she passed.

See, Maggie had been diagnosed with Congestive Heart Disease in December 2008. Her prognosis at the time was three to six months. My vet put her on a cocktail of drugs that turned her around quickly and she was doing fantastic! So good, so back to her normal playful self that I thought we would well surpass that six month prognosis.
Four months into it, she woke me at 5:30 on the morning of April 1st 2009. I took her and the other dogs out to potty, gave Mag her dosage of Lasix and then she came back in and stood next to my bed. Everything was completely normal. I got her up on the bed, and then I crawled in next to her. At that point, she hadn’t yet laid down and was just still standing on the bed. She looked down at me and I chuckled and said “where do you want to go Mag?” She turned and just plopped down. Her one leg was folded underneath her and I said, “Well, that can’t be comfortable” and straightened her leg out for her and then, as usual, I just laid there with her, stroking and rubbing on her. And we were watching the morning news. Just like every other typical morning. Then she started to pant. Her heart condition caused her to pant sometimes but she was panting harder than usual. I continued to stroke her and was soothing her when all of the sudden, she had a big spasm. She spasmed and her legs kicked, then tensed and tightened. I jumped out of bed and ran around to the other side. I grabbed her snout and started blowing into her nostrils, doing mouth to nose resuscitation, screaming “breathe Maggie, breathe!”  But she was limp. And she was gone. In a matter of seconds she was just gone.

I was devastated beyond consolation. But later that day I thought, ‘What a way to go out!” She was completely fine one minute and gone the next. Literally. And she was where she most loved to be, up on my bed, getting stroked and loved on by her mama. I guess you can’t ask for a better way to go than that. We should all be so lucky.

She was my precious princess, my Magarooni, my Magger-Doodle, my sweet angel girl. It’s been five years and I still miss her like I lost her yesterday. She was the one who started this all, my life with dogs, and for that I will be forever grateful. And I will always be thankful for all the love she showered me with and all the lessons she taught me.

I’ve always believed that Maggie was intended for me. After all, she had been bounced out of two homes, two families, and it never made any sense to me because I couldn’t fathom why anyone would ever give up this dog! She was so good and so loving and so well-behaved. After a while, I realized that it was her path and her inevitable journey to get to me…and that a Higher Power intended us to be together. And maybe not just because I could give her a wonderful life in a loving home but so that I could learn from her what I needed to learn.

I learned so much about myself from Maggie. She was fiercely independent, like me, and very much had a mind of her own. Although independent, she was equally dependent and coveted lots of affection and attention. It never failed: when I’d stop rubbing on her after a lengthy cuddle session, she’d lift her head up, turn back and look at me with pleading eyes then let out a pathetic whimper to tell me that she hadn’t yet had enough. So I’d relent and give her what she most wanted: more loving. Then the minute I’d stop rubbing or stroking, again she’d raise that head, look at me and whimper – a soulful cry that would beckon my hand back to her belly. This would go on for hours…usually while we were watching TV in the evenings.  And it would happen regularly, almost constantly. She never could get enough rubs and tickles.

One day I looked at her and realized how much of myself I saw in her. I too can never get enough rubs and tickles. Like me, Maggie was demanding. Like me, she was persistent. Like me, she was selfish. Like me, she was never satisfied. For Maggie, as with me, it was never enough. She opened my eyes to not only a whole new world of living life with dogs but she opened my eyes to myself.

I love you sweet Maggie. You will always be in my heart. Missing you today…and every day.

                                                 Maggie Truhlik                                                    June 1996 – April 1, 2009

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Copyright © 2014 Michele Truhlik. All Rights Reserved.

A Tribute to My Precious Foster Hannah

TRIBUTE TO HANNAH

Hannah the greyhound saluki mixHannah came to me as a foster dog. Her back story is mostly unknown as she was found in a ditch with a litter of puppies. Her early years were obviously unpleasant, and maybe even cruel.

She came to me from her present owner who was in a desperate situation and needed a place for Hannah to stay. And stay with me she did, for the last two years.

Hannah was an incredibly sweet dog with the gentlest of souls. She was part  Headshot of Hannah the greyhound saluki mixGreyhound, part Saluki. The Saluki heritage gave her a very reserved demeanor and one that was fairly expressionless. What I mean by that is the expression on her face NEVER changed! She held the same expression always –and some folks thought she looked a little melancholy. I thought so at first too, until I got to know Hannah. Her expressions came through her body, not her face. I knew she was excited not by the look on her face but by the thump of her tail against the couch cushion when I came in the room. I knew she was having fun, not by her facial expression but by the way she moved, the way she jumped from bed to bed, leap-frogging and bed-hopping. Her ears would stand straight out and she’d turn and look up at me from her landing position, as she considered pouncing again. I knew she was content when she would lay in the sun, rolling in the grass, from side to side, over and back, and finally come to rest on her back, her legs stretched out and her front paws poised like a praying mantis.

Everyone who met Hannah instantly feel in love with her. She was just so sweet, so calm and so mellow. Hannah liked mellow. When the other dogs started to get boisterous or rowdy in the living room, she would just pick up and retreat back to the bedroom and hang out there until things quieted down.

When Hannah first came to me she was obviously feeling displaced and probably a bit confused, having left the stable home that she’d known for several years. She didn’t want to eat the first few meals. That’s quite normal when a change occurs in a dog’s environment. But she needed to eat! So I would bring her bowl over and hand-feed her. Goopy gobs of kibble mixed with mushy canned food. It was a messy job but at least she ate everything. And this went on for awhile, day after day of hand-feeding, when I finally realized, she’s playing me! She’s just a diva and wanted to be hand-fed all the time. Silly girl.

hannah the blue greyhound saluki mix

When she started eating on her own, she liked to eat in private. She didn’t like any distractions or any movements around while she was eating so she took her meals in my bedroom, usually on top of my bed. She was such a princess!

But then she stopped eating. Wouldn’t eat anything. At all. I took her to my vet and she was diagnosed as heading into kidney failure. There’s no recovery from kidney failure so she was on borrowed time. I was told it could be a few weeks or a few months. That was two weeks ago.

After her 4-day stay in the hospital getting pumped with IV fluids she came back home and was doing fabulous! I was so happy. She was back to her old self. Trotting in the yard, rolling in the grass, bed-jumping. And she would get especially excited at treat time. But she was still being very finicky with the food. I had to get really creative with meal planning just so she would get something into her belly. And she went back to the Diva mode and I would hand-feed her meatballs, chicken nuggets, ham, bread, rigatoni noodles with sauce and whatever else she would eat to keep her strength up. I ended up throwing a lot of stuff out. Surely she’ll eat tuna-fish, right? What dog doesn’t like tuna fish? Hannah doesn’t. She ate oatmeal one day and I thought, Great! Oatmeal is good for her. So I made a big pot of it. She never ate oatmeal after that first time. One day she’d eat something and the next day she decided she didn’t like it. I kinda think she went back to playing me, but I was happy to oblige.

She had lost a lot of weight and was continuing to lose weight, but again, she seemed like she had really turned a corner. Until Tuesday. Monday she didn’t eat anything at all. And believe me, I tried EVERYTHING! She would take food in her mouth but spit it right back out.  Tuesday, same thing. Wouldn’t eat at all. She was getting weaker. Then she suddenly couldn’t sit still, like she couldn’t get comfortable. She finally settled down, as we all did for the night.

On Wednesday morning when I got up she was unresponsive. Breathing, but unresponsive. I rushed her to the vet and the clinic staff whisked her back to a room. The vet came out a short while later and said that her blood pressure was so low they couldn’t even get a reading. They had her on oxygen and did a blood draw, but her blood was sludgy and coagulating. The vet wanted to see what the blood work looked like because she thought it might not be the kidneys. When the results came back it wasn’t good. She came out with the paperwork, a paper with a lot of red ink, indicating Hannah’s levels that were abnormal — so many of her levels were abnormal and not just a little abnormal but way out of normal range. At this point it was obvious that something else was going on inside Hannah and there was just no coming back from it.

It was time. So I had to say goodbye and release sweet Hannah to be with all my other babies up at the Rainbow Bridge. It was heartbreaking to see her in the condition she was, especially when just the day before she was bouncing around.

Hannah was a very special girl who left paw prints on the hearts of all who met her. I’m very grateful to have had these last two years with her.

                              Godspeed Hannah!                                                        

I know you’re up there rolling in green meadows and basking in the warm sunlight. Until we meet again, feel my love and know that we miss your sweet spirit.   Hannah walking

UPDATE 1/24/14:  I had just come into the house from doing poop-duty outside and as I was about to slip back into my house shoes I noticed something white on the inside of my left shoe. When I picked it up, there lie a little white feather. I have to think that was Hannah stopping by to let me know she got her angel wings!

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