Let’s Dance Once Again
So, here I am. I know it has been a long six months or so. The thing about my writing is that it is my therapy. So much happened all at once, I just wanted to be messed up. I didn’t want therapy. The beginning of the fog was when my Mom passed. I was happy for her to go to heaven and let go of the burden her body had become. I miss her every day. The world is a different place now. There are certain events that absolutely change everything forever. You know, getting married, having kids etc…The minute that I got the news that my Mom was gone, it was like the lens that I look at the world through was swapped out for a completely different one. It isn’t that life is no longer good, or that I think every day is ick. It is just different. I wasn’t braced for that part of it. I knew I would miss her. I knew we all would and that Dad would really mourn. I didn’t realize that the day to day stuff of life would all seem different. It does. I can think of a million examples and sometimes no specific example at all. I felt the same way the instant each of my babies was put in my arms. The wave of life can be amazingly fierce and knock you over, or it can come in like a gentle tide tickling your toes. Each day is different for me. I will say that during the last year the current has been rough and strong, many times knocking me to my knees in prayer. That is an amazing force. I did not know my Faith was so deep. I have seen people buckle in prayer on TV. I did not know I had that kind of Faith in me. For that I am so very thankful. I will say, however, that it can really be exhausting.
So, Mom is gone. Then Ben’s dad, Pop, my beloved Uncle Cecil, my cousin, Ann, and Ben’s uncle. Our world changed within like two months. All gone. My Mom had been so sick for so long. I miss her so much and it will hurt forever, but I had some peace when she passed. Just knowing that she was with the angels and no longer confused gave me peace. My dear Uncle Cecil was the closest thing to a grandpa I ever had. We spent every holiday growing up with my Auntie Marjorie and Uncle Cecil. They would bicker the entire time and those are such fond memories. He was 96. We stopped in Glenwood and visited him in the nursing home about a year before he died. On that day, I had a feeling I would not see him again. My cousin, Ann, was his daughter. No one told me she was sick. She died the month after Cecil. That one blindsided me and made me sadder than I realized. I had a lot of judgment towards her because she did a lot of bad things during her life. Now that she is gone, I really miss her. I did love her. Her body just couldn’t take any more of the things she had done to it over the years. Her love for me and my family did not have judgement and was pure and real. There was never a time that she was not happy to see me or hear from me. I cannot say the same. I will always be thankful to her for taking such good care of my Uncle Cecil after my Aunt died. I would do anything for my Uncle Cecil. I offered for him to live here, but Ann took him in and he was happy.
Ben’s Uncle died in a really fluke of a trailer fire. His heater malfunctioned or something and he died in his sleep before the entire thing burned up. It was about a month after his dad’s funeral. I have told you before that Pop, Ben’s dad, and I had a strange relationship. We pushed each other’s buttons, but boy do I miss that old guy. He would come barreling in my house, suspenders on, loud as can be, and say, “Is anybody home??”. What I would give to hear that again. At the time it made me mad because he usually didn’t even knock. I would pay cash to have him come barreling through my door again. I would give anything to sit and listen to him talk his stories about the past.
This Christmas was a lonely one. I think I last wrote a blog last May. Wow, that is such a long time. I really have suffered some pretty hard depression. Writing things down maybe makes it too real. It is time to be real. It is the new year and I may as well start off right. I am one of those people that makes one million resolutions.
My son, Nick. Well, he stayed sober a good long time. He did very well and was able to say goodbye to his beloved Ana. The grandkids all called my Mom Ana. It started as Nana, but just got cut off. She got to see him healthy, happy, and sober. Part of why I haven’t written is because I am struggling so with the words. A while after Mom and Pop died, Nick went missing. Those were the darkest days I have ever had. I knew in my gut he had relapsed. I didn’t sleep. I cried. I didn’t know what to tell Laura, or anyone, so just told her straight up that I did not know where he was. Nick was in violation of his probation. I knew the date and time he was to meet with his probation officer and showed up.
I showed up, but he did not. A warrant was issued. I walked around in a fog. I did not know if Nick was dead or alive. I functioned at the minimal level of survival. I didn’t come to church very often, because I cannot hide at church. I didn’t go out of my house much at all. It was barely living. Anytime I would catch wind of where Nick might be, I would call the police to go arrest him. That is a feeling that no mom should experience. I wanted him locked up to save him from himself. I knew that was the right thing to do. You see, no one wants to be an addict. It is a horrible existence.
Finally, I heard from Nick and he admitted himself to detox. Ben and Laura and I met him there after a few days and took him to turn himself in. We walked from the detox center over to the Sheriff’s department. It was so simple. It took like five minutes and he was gone. That is the last time I saw his real face or touched him. He turned himself in and has been in jail, real live jail, ever since. I went to his court date and that judge was an amazing human being. I have told her so. She thought long and hard. He was not just a number to her. She spoke directly to Nick. She told him that he was the only one she had seen all day with any support there at all (meaning Ben and I, we were in the audience). He listened. There he was before the judge. He had on jail clothes, his ankles were shackled together and he was in handcuffs. His voice shook. He waved at me like a little boy…..but a partial wave because of the handcuffs. I cried the entire time. I’m crying now remembering it. I felt it was so very important for Laura to be there. I know that many parents probably disagree with me, but I am the Mom and we were right on this one.
Laura got to see Nick take charge of his own life and do the right thing. He held her hand while we walked and told her it was going to be ok. He told her he loved her and that he had made some really bad choices. He told her how dangerous drugs are and that he will be safe now. She was stoic, as usual, and did not cry. She hugged him hard and looked right into his blurry eyes. I know that seeing us gave him strength and let him know that we are here. I am right here no matter what.
The judge sentenced him to two years in a correctional facility that is a rehab center. He will gradually re- enter society. He will work in the real world and then go there at night. It is a tough program. I have heard it is the toughest in the state. Meanwhile, he sits in a tiny jail cell waiting for a spot to open up. He is in real jail with some bad dudes. My child. He has been there for three months. Nick calls me almost every day. This has changed him. He is my Nick again. I actually hear relief in his voice when I talk to him. I miss him so much I could die, but know that this is the path he is on. Life dealt Nick some hard stuff as a little guy and he is now growing up.
Please do not judge him harshly as no one knows what it is like to walk in another’s shoes. He is a wonderful person. He is good and kind. Nick reminds me of my dad in a lot of ways. I will, however, NEVER tell my Dad what has happened. It would break him and he is almost 92. When he is in heaven, he will understand. The real Nick is back now. He would give you the shirt off of his back. He writes to us often. He writes Laura every single week and she writes him back. I pray every single day that the people from the rehab program come get him soon. The weeks go by, turn into months. I just keep praying. It is time to move on.
The holidays were so hard on everyone. People in jail have this account you can put money in for phone calls, deodorant, socks, etc. It is the most ridiculous thing I have ever encountered. I had no clue that jail was so stinkin expensive. It costs us tons of money every month. What???? You pay a booking fee, you pay for socks, you pay and pay. Anyway, I only put a tiny amount on his “books”, as they say, each week. It is enough to get some paper, maybe a few snacks etc. On Christmas I put a little extra and told him to use it to have an extra treat, but mostly to do something for someone else. Get someone a gift. There are 2,200 inmates there. They don’t all have a “me” on the outside to call or to care. If they don’t have soap, they don’t have soap. That seems so minor compared to not being able to hear a voice say, “I love you. I am here. We are right here.”
Nick took my “gift” and bought stuff to make nachos. It is that fake-o processed food product stuff in a can, I am sure. The thought of that cheese makes me make a face and I can feel it on my teeth. Nonetheless, he made nachos and slid them under a guy’s bars in his block of cells during his “out time.” For that, I am proud. He made someone feel cared about and brightened his day a bit. I am humbled. I am humbled by that love he shared. I am humbled by the generosity of his spirit. We are all so very fortunate.
You know, I am a brat about just wanting my box of Harry and David pears every year. I’m serious. I flat out say, “I better get them this year.” Last year Ben forgot. I was not happy. When I do get them, I am actually fairly greedy with them. You know, they come all individually wrapped in this box. I jokingly, but secretly NOT jokingly, tell my family they can split one. I count them like a child. That is horrible. I didn’t do that this year. I shared my squeeze cheese freely, if you will. God has graced me with such a beautiful world, children, seriously, my husband is a Saint, and all of you. I will share my pears. There is only one left. I am going to give it to someone. Maybe this guy that is always holding a sign by King Soopers. Sometimes that kind of thing bites me in the behind, but my intentions are good. I will give it a try and hope not to see it come hurling toward my windshield. If I have food in my car, I give the people a banana or whatever. Most are appreciative, some are irritated that it isn’t money. Please pray with me for my Nick. I need all the help I can get. Some days I hold up ok, some not so well.
Let’s change subjects a bit. By now, you all know I am just absolutely crazy about my animals. My Kando dog, my service dog, is just so much more than a dog. She is my shadow. That dog can read my mind, I swear. Ben will say she isn’t smart enough, but he is incorrect. When I cry about Nick, or my Mom, or whatever, she knows. She will come over and put her front legs up on my lap and lean in. I will look up to heaven and ask Mom if she sees this. What a great dog. Besides telling me when I am going to have a seizure, she is just about the kindest soul on the planet. Everything is her favorite. Even the cats that slap her and hate her……she loves them.
I believe I have told you that I foster adopted my dog from a lady that raised service dogs. Kando was the breeder. They wanted to breed her one more time and then she would be my forever dog. Well, the month after I took her in, she began having seizures. It turned out that Kando had epilepsy as well. Long story short, she became mine and we understand each other. I know when she is going to have a seizure because the fur on her rear end stands straight up and she acts kinda funny. I just know. I can call my brother, the Vet, and he can test her bromide levels and adjust meds or whatever. I watch her close. Kando knows when I am going to have a seizure the day before. Maybe my hair sticks up funny, I don’t have any idea. That dog is on me like glue. She cries if I close the bathroom door. She will get on the bed and practically lay on top of me. This is not an “on the bed” kinda dog. That is cat territory. She is right every single time. We save each other.
When I walk with her it is so much easier because she acts like a cane. When the leash is taught on my right side it helps me balance and I can walk at a faster clip. We have a good thing going. Kando is 11 and not doing well. I have noticed over the last several months that she is declining. Her stomach is a mess from being a total idiot and eating pounds of Halloween candy one year, drinking water and flipping it another year, and just being old. Last week she bloated and we rushed her to the emergency hospital. My brother and his wife are both Vets, but their practice is in Greeley. Besides that, he is in the Bahamas right now. I was terrified. Her stomach was as big as a basketball and just as hard. We rushed her in. The X-ray showed mostly air, but definitely a nail. There is a nail in her stomach. We got a roof a few months ago and this was a roofing nail. She spent that night in the ER and they put a tube down her throat and relieved the pressure from the bloat. They wanted to take her straight to surgery, but I said no. My girl is 11 years old, had 18 puppies, has epilepsy, and has had two stomach surgeries already. I knew it was the right decision. I told them to make her comfortable and if they couldn’t do that, then it was her time to go.
They relieved the pressure and brought her back to us and she was like nothing ever happened. I asked about the nail and the doctor said she had been through enough tonight. I called my brother the next day and he said not to let that go. Passing a nail could really hurt her. Ben was in Wyoming at this point. So, Laura and I loaded her up and back to the ER we went. They, again, asked to cut her stomach open. Again, I declined. I approved an endoscopy procedure where they put a tube with a camera on it down her throat and try to find the nail and pick it up. She was under for hours. They found all kinds of interesting stuff, wrappers, toothpicks, etc…..no nail. Finally, I told them to stop. She had been under a long time. She is home with me. We have a lot less money, but here we are. She is like normal. Happy, hungry, starving for attention…..but, I know the end is near.
During the process of all of this it was discovered that there is a very large mass on her heart. I will not allow anyone to open her chest up at this point in life any more than her stomach, so here we are. My beloved friend has a nail in her stomach and a mass on her heart. I am still her primary concern. I still lift her carefully into the back of my car and take her with me wherever I go. She is a big dog. I hear her every breath. It is kind of like when you have a sick child and you never really go to sleep for fear of them needing you. Everything seems different now. I don’t know what I will do without my dog, but I must prepare myself. My brother will be home and will do a follow up ultra sound and x-ray on Monday. I know in my heart that it will not change anything. My brother and his wife are the best Vets in the whole world. Colin knew he wanted to be a vet when he was six years old. My sweet brother saves animals every day. He will want to go to any length to prolong her life. I will disagree. It will be hard. The end is near. Maybe the nail will pass without incident. Maybe the nail will continue to just hang out in her stomach. The mass will eventually make it hard for her to breathe.
As Laura and I sat for hours in that emergency room, I knew. Laura was her toughie self and I was a hysterical mess. It is laughable as I think back. I was literally on the floor with Kando and a box of Kleenex. Laura was in a chair sitting quietly. I cried and blew my nose like a 5 year old for hours that day in the emergency room. I feel sorry for all other Vets that have worked with my animals and me because I am sure they realize I find them substandard. They are not real vets to me because they are not Colin.
The doc finally told us to go home at around 4 or so. At around 11 pm a neighbor took me to pick her up. She is in no pain, the bloat is gone. As I go through my day I try to imagine what it will be like without her, but I cannot. It will change that lens of life once again. As I type I can hear her doing her little snore breathing as she naps beside me. It is a scene that is played out every single day and I cannot imagine her being gone. I will not let her hurt or suffer and I will ask God for the strength to get me through. The tidal wave will hit me once more and I will fall. I will fall, but I will get up once more and try to figure it out. I will hide out, cry, and avoid people for a while. Ultimately, though, I will pull it together because I am the Mom. It is what we do, right Mom?