Nov 29

I was compelled to call this post “On The Road Again” but…being that I have to fly everywhere, it doesn’t really work. Unless I wanted to use a bit of irony mixed with a healthy dose of sarcasm.

I’m in Sitka again. I arrived here this morning after spending the day/night in Anchorage yesterday. Yesterday, the first thing I did when I got off the plane, fetched my rental car, and withdrew my per diem money from the bank was head over to the movie theatre to catch the early matinee of “Twilight.”

Robert Pattinson? *SWOON*

I have a new celebrity crush. His portrayal of Edward was spot on. He was exactly what I pictured in my head when I read the book. I agree with Zoot though when she said, if you haven’t read the book, you won’t appreciate the intensity between Bella and Edward. I left the theatre floating on air and eager to start the next book in the series, which I did last night. I’m almost finished reading it.

Anywho. That was the highlight of my day yesterday.

The highlight of my day today was arriving here. The weather is 42 and rainy. No snow except for the high peaks that make up the surrounding islands and everything is still really green. Fog makes haloes around the foothills and the streets are wet and glistening. One might think it would be depressing to be here right now but I love it. I love the crisp air and the fact that it isn’t -30 with 3 feet of snow on the ground-which is exactly what my village is like right now. (okay to be fair, it was 5 above there today, sue me)

I arrived first, of course, and the rest of my roommates will arrive on the late flight tonight and throughout the day tomorrow. I’m anxious as always about how well we’re going to get along and I hope that anxiety is once again unfounded. It’s all girls with this class. It’ll be interesting to see how the “all-girl” dynamic will play out in the next 3 weeks.

As happy as I am to be here, I’m glad this session is only 3 weeks long. It’s coming up on Christmas after all and I-like most people-really enjoy the weeks that lead up to the holiday. In fact, so that I wouldn’t feel like I missed out on everything, Howard and I put our tree last Monday.

Thanksgiving was wonderful. Dusty’s family, of course, invited us over and it was a feast to behold. We ate until we were miserable and many photos were taken. Thanksgivings, even though they aren’t spent with our true families; never disappoint me in my village.

Did I mention that I really miss Howard and Pepper? I think I’ll skip the story of me “talking” to Pepper on the phone. You can use your imagination with that one.

So Sitka. 3 weeks. New roommates. New stories. More anxiety attacks over exams and OSCE’s. Let the fun begin.

Nov 27

I made my usual phone call to my family this morning. Traditionally, they ALWAYS eat Thanksgiving dinner at noon. I called just before that time to wish everyone a Happy day and found that this year was no different.

Pots and pans were clanging around in the background when my cousin Michelle answered the phone. The usual “I wish I was there” “We wish you were here” sentiments were exchanged, Michelle and I gave summarized upates on our lives, and then she handed the phone to my memaw who gushed “CHRISSY!” just like she always does when she finds that it’s me on the other line. It always warms my heart. If ever my spirits need a lift, I need only to call my memaw because she always does that.

I heard voices in the background as my memaw and I talked and she periodically gave me updates on everyone’s arrival..”Oh your mom just walked in!” …even hollaring “WOO HOOO!” when my uncle who is late by at least a half hour at least 99% of the time…actually showed up *gasp* on time. I laughed, acknowledging who I really get my dramatic tendencies from. “You’re so funny memaw…I love you.” I said to her as I smiled.

I’m accustomed to being distant from my family. From the time I was 17 and college bound, I was determined to see the world and form my own life. I needed to do that to heal from the dysfunction that helped shape me into who I was. I tried for so many years to disassociate myself from my past. Not that I was ashamed of my family….I just found that as I got older, the less I had in common with them.

I still came home for visits often, at least when I lived in NC. But often, I would find myself exasperated by the end of the visit…anxious to get back to my own life. Finding that though I loved and missed my family, the life I’d made for myself had made me even more of a stranger.

Sometime after I moved to Alaska….I began to see things differently. I’m still an independent person, determined to live her own life, but I find that I now appreciate the differences between me and my family. I acknowledge that had my life been any different growing up, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. And you know what? I think I like who I am. I’m growing on me. Heh.

But most importantly, no amount of running from it would change anything about my past. Things happened. We ultimately have to get past it all. It isn’t always easy and sometimes we need help doing it but it can be done.
With all of our differences, our problems, our dysfunction, they are still the only family I have. I know that when I make a phone call home, they are always happy to hear from me and you know what? I’m equally as happy when I hear a familiar voice 3000 miles away.

I also know that when the world walks out, they will be there to catch me when I fall.

So, be thankful for your family. Embrace the dysfunction. Forget the fighting and bickering, put aside your differences, if just for today. Be thankful that every member of your family has an influence in making you who you are. Be thankful you’re alive and able to go through the things you do. Even if they aren’t always easy and pretty. Wouldn’t life be really boring if things always were?

Author, Pat Conroy wrote “When it comes to family, there are no crimes beyond forgiveness.”

Remember that today.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Nov 25

I’m dying laughing right now….over this.

Nov 20

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There is some icky virus knocking out me and my fellow employees and we’re dropping like flies at the office.

Kas got it first, I was sent home yesterday, and rumor has it another employee left early today. In fact, Kas called me tonight to check on me and then promptly told me I had no choice in the matter and WOULD NOT BE reporting to work tomorrow.

So, I’m snotty, I’m coughing, I feel unclean in spite of a hot shower, and today I felt like calling Kas and having her come over to euthanize me.

Losing my Lucky dog and then getting sick with some mystery virus means that I will be one happy girl when November is over with. In fact? Don’t even get me started on 2008.

Nov 16

This is for my friends who are struggling right now…You know who you are…and for anyone who is having a tough time…Hang in there.  Enjoy!

Nov 15

I’m getting kind of slack at posting and I apologize.  I’m in that all too familiar mode of  forming witty and funny words in my head and then getting immediate writers block upon getting anywhere near a computer.

Though I think we all know where it’s coming from.

I do want to say thank you to all of you who sent emails and condolences regarding the loss of my Lucky dog.  I miss him terribly.  I completely took for granted the things in my life that I associated with him.  And those things come into sharp focus now that he’s no longer here.  I am getting better though.  I’ve gone entire days without tearing up over him.  Of course, that streak was broken when I woke up this morning from a dream of sitting in a rocking chair with him curled up in my lap and gazing up at me.  I choked up when I told Howard about it but the tears quickly left.  I know he’s in a better place.  My heart will heal in time.

Our sweet Pepper, who became Lucky’s little caretaker in his last months, surprised us by how much he grieved.  You know, lots of people shrug off the idea that animals feel emotions similar to humans.  I admit, I’ve done it myself.  But Pepper confirmed that the week following Lucky’s death.  He seemed lost without a big brother to take care of and look up to.  His eyes would search the room anytime he heard Lucky’s name.  Then he would give us a sad look and lower his head.

Of course, he’s tried to keep our spirits up too…playing with his toys, bringing them to us to throw for him to fetch.  We’ve found that not only is he impossibly adorable and freakishly intelligent but he’s a natural nurturer as well.  He’s been a genuine god send to all of us.

Kas took Lucky’s remains to town to be cremated and he now sits on the coffee table next to Katie.  His collar and tags rest wrapped around the tin urn that is identical to Katie’s but for the weight.  Morbid as it may seem, it comforts me to have him “home” with us.

On a brighter note; the opportunity arose to dog-sit a friend’s teacup chihuahua.  Our friend is an elder who is spending time in town due to medical reasons and is unable to care for the little nugget right now.  Kas offered the opportunity to us and we took it.  “Susie” has been a little ray of sunshine for the past few days.  Pepper was unsure at first, about what to make of this supposed dog who looked suspiciously like a bat with 4 legs but after some initial awkwardness on both their parts, they get along just fine.  In fact, Pepper has reverted back to being a puppy in a lot of ways.  There’s lots of yapping, barking, play-growling, and the rumbling sound of puppy feet galloping through the house.

It’s music to our ears and soothing to our grieving hearts.

And when my linebacker husband picks her up and holds her, it’s a hilarious sight for my sore eyes.  I love that we’re not prejudiced against small dogs.

So, thanks again for being patient and kind.  Especially to my non-animal loving friends who may not understand but can certainly appreciate the love between pets and their owners.

I know everything is going to be okay.

Nov 10

Back in NC this summer, I saw a cousin I haven’t seen in years.  We’re related because my “memaw” and her “granny” are sisters.

As children, we lived just over the hill from each other and were only a year apart.

Residing in such close proximity and being so close in age meant we grew up together.  In fact, we were nearly joined at the hip.  Usually where you saw one of us, the other wasn’t too far away.  Our relationship remained that way for many years.

Crystal was an only child and I had a sister who was nearly 4 years older and who had an entirely different set of friends.  We became very much like sisters and in fact, people who were unaware of our kinship thought we were.

We did nearly everything together.  The years saw us boy crazy, emotional messes, sullen teenagers, and we were ALWAYS scheming up some crazy way to either make money or get into mischief.  Being true to form, there were also arguments, fights, and times when we were really mad at each other.  But we always seemed to work through it.  Most of the time, we just moved on as if nothing had even happened.  Which was just fine with both of us.

We knew ultimately that we loved each other deeply and like sisters would always be in each other’s corner, no matter what.

Then we began to grow up.  Crystal started her family early and I was itching to get away and see the world.  Naturally, we began to grow apart.  Going weeks, months, then years without speaking.  Only getting updates from our grandparents who were and still are very close with each other.  Thankfully, on the rare occasions that we did see each other, it was as if no time had passed at all.  In no time, we’d be sharing “inside jokes” and laughing, knowing only “we” could understand what was transpiring between us.

The years have seen us through so much.  She’s rearing 4 beautiful daughters in NC and I’m childless living in Alaska.  Our lives turned out far different from what we thought they would.  And that isn’t a bad thing.

The miracles of technology allowed she and I to get back and stay in touch with each other over the past few months and it’s been wonderful.  We couldn’t wait to see each other when I went back to NC.  We didn’t get to spend a lot of time together but we were able to catch up a bit.  It honestly felt like a piece of my heart had been returned to me.

Like we really were sisters and had finally come home.

At the end of our visit, we both teared up and cried, hugging each other and promising to always stay in touch.  Again, the years of not speaking and not seeing each other dissipated as if no time had passed at all.  And we liked that.  I also believe we’ll never fall out of touch again.

She turns a year older today.  It’s a birthday I think about every year it arrives.  I’m so glad that I can wish her a Happy Birthday on this day and she’ll know.

So, Happy Birthday Crystal Michelle, my sister at heart, my partner in crime.  I love you very much and miss you even more.  I hope this day is everything you dreamed of.

Nov 4

funny dog pictures
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Nov 3

I had crying jags throughout the day yesterday.  By the time, Howard and I prepared for bed, I was exhausted.

But it didn’t prepare me for the utter emptiness I would feel when it was time to turn in.  Lucky wasn’t waiting for me on my pillow like usual.  I didn’t have to move him out of my way so I could climb into bed.  I didn’t feel him snuggle up against me and settle in for the night.  I didn’t feel his head on my arm or hear his contented little snort.

I grabbed my pillow, clutched it to my chest and the tears came in heaves and sobs.  Howard wrapped me up in his arms and cocooned me until the tears subsided.  I miss him, my god, do I miss him.  Only yesterday morning, he had enough strength to sit up and look down at me and then nuzzled my neck and flopped back down into my arms.  I spent extra time with him in bed yesterday morning, knowing it would be the last one together.

I keep remembering how very tired he looked.  How his eyes pleaded with me to help him.  To please fix him.

I know in my head in I did the right thing.  I just can’t get my heart wrapped around it yet.  I hope he knows I only wanted to end his suffering.  I knew that with his age, there was nothing a vet could do.  However, if we had one here, I would have taken him.  I assure you.  Many times over the last 15 years, Howard and I have forgone groceries for the week to make sure he had proper vet care.

I knew there was nothing anyone could do.  Kas assured us it was the most loving act of kindness a pet owner can give to their pet.  Ending his suffering was the only way I knew how to help him.

I just wish it didn’t hurt so much.

Nov 2

For the last two weeks, Lucky has been getting weaker.  We watched as his appetite waned and then was gone altogether.  We watched as his body rapidly shrank and withered.  We watched as he struggled to walk only a few steps.

I came home Friday and he could no longer stand on his own.

I called Kas and told her that we were giving him until Sunday, then we would end his suffering.  Kas has access to Euthanasia, mercifully.
Howard and I spent the weekend cuddling and loving him.  I gave him a talk on Friday night telling him he could go.  To please not hang on for my sake.  We spent hours gazing into each others eyes.  I would walk around the house just carrying him in my arms.

We prayed he would just “go to sleep” on his own.  That he would pass peacefully tucked between me and Howard.

He always was a stubborn boy.

With a heavy heart, Howard and I prepared for his departure this morning.  Kas came over, gave him liquid Valium to relax him,  then she took Pepper outside and left Lucky with me and Howard.  We put him between us and kissed him, cuddled him, and told him goodbye.  Kas came back in with Pepper and he jumped between us and sniffed and kissed Lucky too.

When Lucky was clearly relaxed, I carried him to the kitchen.  We’d prepared my pillow (that he loves to sleep and drool on) and covered it with peri-pads in case there were any accidents.

I held him while Howard shaved his foot so that Kas could clearly see the vein, and I gently laid him down.  I sat at his head, looked into his eyes and burst into tears.  Howard asked me to stop crying because he and I made a pact that we would not let Lucky see us upset.  Lucky’s glazed over eyes reassured me that he was in no pain at all.  I sucked it up and told Kas I was okay.   Kas hesitated and then inject the serum.

It was the most peaceful thing I’ve ever witnessed.  I’d imagined awful things in my head like his struggling, his seizing up, his flinching at the very least.  But there was nothing.  I placed my hand on his chest and felt nothing.  Howard pulled me into his arms and we stood there with our arms wrapped around each other as Kas listened to his heart with her stethoscope.  I heard his last tiny breath expel.  Kas removed the stethoscope from her ears, and told us she’d never witnessed a more peaceful passing.

I lost it then.  My knees buckled.  Howard had to hold me up.  I went to my precious boy and covered his head with kisses and closed his eyes.  I cried and cried.  Howard sat down and tears came to his eyes.  Howard is more of a quiet cryer.  I sat in his lap and held his head.  Kas gave us both hugs and made a quick exit.  She was dreading it as much as we were.

And so we say goodbye to my sweet boy.  My Lucky dog.  My constant companion who was fiercely devoted to me and I to him.  He’s been with me since I was 18 years old.  His silky fur soaked up a lot of tears, his bat ears heard lots of laughter, his big bug eyes witnessed the good, the bad, and the ugly times in my life thus far.  And yet, his love never waivered.

I am heartbroken.  I am devastated.  There will never be another dog like him.