There were originally lots of other things that I was going to write about today. Funny how one short moment can change all of that.
The boys and I have been up here visiting my mom and family since Monday. It's been a pretty good week so far. Ups and downs, tears and laughter...just an overall good time to be home while my husband's out of town.
We had returned from Polkas today--my Grandma loves listening to Polka music. Every Friday she and my Mom go to a place which plays polka music from 2-4. Grandma loves it. Well, it turns out that my boys love it too.
We all went today, including my step-dad and aunt! I enjoyed it for the most part, felt a dark cloud pass over me off and on. It was just 2-3 weeks ago when I had told some of the ladies there that I was expecting. They were so excited. I kept imagining what next year would be like with a new polka fan to bring to the club. My mom told them last week of our loss. No one said anything about it today.
From time to time it was difficult listening to the music that just a few weeks ago I listened to with my baby still in my tummy. Thankfully, watching the boys clap along helped to chase away the blues.
We picked up pizza on the way home. Dinner was enjoyable with happy chatter spreading across the table. Afterwards, my mom & Benny went downstairs to get my dog Winnie from her cage in the basement. She was in the cage while we were gone. My mom walked into the kitchen and I knew something was wrong. I guess it doesn't take me long anymore, I feel like I'm so on edge. I blurted out, "Oh no, Winnie's dead, isn't she!" Mom said yes, that she must have died in her sleep. I asked if she was sure. She said yes and that she just told Benny Winnie was sleeping.
More tears. I know a dog can't compare to a lost child, but Winnie was my girl. She would have turned 15 years in February. She was with me from about 3 mos old on. I got her 6 mos after I got my first dog when I moved to Texas to go to graduate school back in '95. They were my family since I had moved to a state where I knew no one.
Winnie's been with me through every move, through getting married, through having kids. She's flown across the country on planes and ridden across the states in our van. She never complained. She was a stout, red, goofy dog with her tongue hanging out of her mouth half the time. She growled if another dog came too close to her space but never picked fights. She was easy-going and happy to lay around wherever she found room.
She was healthy too. A couple of years ago we spent an insane amount of money on her--she had some sort of cancer so she had the whole kit-and-caboodle taken out. She's never had any other health problems.
Last night when we gave the boys baths, I noticed Winnie up on my Grandma's couch. I was shocked. Winnie is too chunky to get on couches and hasn't done that since she was a pup. She seemed to be breathing hard, yet wore her same old goofy smile on her face. I didn't think much of it, just that she was getting old and that it was probably hard on her to jump up like that.
Do you ever wonder why so much seems to get thrown at us all at once? My baby died a week and a half ago. My dog died today. I found out on Tuesday that my brother and his wife lost one of their twins. They found out during almost the same ultrasound that I had when I learned of my baby's condition. So much loss in one week. I know, dogs don't compare to babies, but they are still a loss all the same. They are still family.
When my brother told me of his loss, I felt my heart breaking all over again. I had felt apprehensive about their appointment. I kept praying that all would be well. Apparently, their baby passed about 4 weeks ago, around week 8 or so. We are all thankful that since it happened so early, it shouldn't impact the remaining baby which is doing really well. I know they are still feeling pain though. I'm keeping them in my prayers. Three little babies down to two and now down to one. I remember how excited my step-dad was so excited about next Christmas and having three little babies around. Wow, how fast things can change. I remember when my mom gave him my brother's news he said, "What's going on?" Mom simply said, "Life."
Life. That's what it is. For all of the good and the bad within it, it's life.
And then today losing my sweet old dog. I have to say goodbye to her in a little bit before my mom takes her outside for the night. It's going to be hard. Any loss right now is hitting me really hard. I told my mom that I'd be leaving on Monday for home with yet another empty space in my life--Winnie's cage will be empty. It will be hard. Her cage in our basement will sit empty. We'll pick our younger Maddie dog up from the kennel on Tuesday. I know she'll look for Winnie. They were buddies with Maddie always licking Winnie's eyes and ears. Mary, my other senior dog, won't have Winnie to snarl at when they go outside. Mary's always been 'alpha dog' and Winnie knew and respected that. No more Winnie for Mary to put into place.
A friend and I were discussing my baby's condition soon after I found out. My friend had a miscarriage 6 weeks or so prior to my news. I had really felt her pain and was grateful that I could talk with her. I remember her asking me, "I wonder what we're supposed to learn from this? I think we're supposed to learn something, I don't know...maybe it's to truly embrace life." I've thought a lot about her question since our chat. I know there are just some things that we'll never understand. Why little children suffer and die, why some people are taken from us way too soon, why bad things happen to good people. We try to justify things. We try to pray. We listen to others' kind words. We try to make sense of loss in our heads. While it may make some sense in our heads, I don't think it ever makes full sense in our hearts.
And when multiple losses hit you in one time, that's pretty difficult to make any sense out of. The similarities between my brother and I were numerous. Our babies were due almost at the exact same time. He had told my parents on a Sunday and me on a Monday. I told my dad that same Monday as well as my brother about our good news. I received his 'announcement' in the mail on Tuesday. We all laughed at the number of secrets we had kept from each other! Then, we both made our happy news public (i.e. on Facebook) that Friday. Just two short weeks later, I found out about my baby's condition through our neucco-screen. For me that was week 12. My sister-in-law and brother learned of losing one of their twins on the exact same week--week 12. Very strange coincidences but they have allowed us to not only share the happy but also the sad and confusing.
Winnie. Well, what do you say about that timing? I could sit here and whine and say, "God, why me? How much more can you throw at me??" I'd like to say that but I can't. I can admit that it's hard to feel optimistic. Where is that glass that's half-full? It's just hard right now. I feel even more emptiness now without Winnie. So much change in just two weeks. Pregnant to not pregnant. My brother expecting twins to now just one. Three dogs down to two.
I don't know if I'll be able to make sense out of this any time soon. My pain over losing Baby Jacob is very raw and intense still right now. If anything, I'm very open to thinking about loss. To thinking about the many things we should try to learn from it--be it a sweet little baby or a sweet old dog. We all know we should celebrate life. No one would question that. Enjoy every moment with our loved ones. How true this is and it's ringing loud and clear to me right now, so loud that it's almost blaring.
As the temps start to fall and we look for blankets to keep us warm while watching a movie on the couch or reading a book, ask your loved one to sit and snuggle with you for a bit. Hold your baby, your child...put your arm around your mate. And of course, don't forget to cuddle with your furry friend--I've always believed that they were also gifts from God. They always seem to understand our feelings and don't ask for much in return. Such a great example of unconditional love.
With loving thoughts of all that I've lost in the last week--my precious Baby Jacob, my sweet little niece/nephew and my loyal Winnie.
Stay warm and loved my friends.