Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Life Lessons of The Canine Kind

Last week was a real doozy around these parts. We were waiting on some test results for Austin, we had to put the dog down, Spencer's birthday party was Friday evening and I was holding the mother of all garage sales on Saturday to benefit my Relay for Life team. To say I was stressed is an understatement. To say I had overbooked myself once again is naive. To say that I will never learn to say no is the truth.

Everything felt very raw to me and after my final moments with Hershey on Tuesday, I never really recovered. I felt a sadness that struck me to my core and which completely took me by surprise as Hershey's antics over the past few years have been more frustrating than endearing. I knew I would be sad, obviously, but I didn't expect the sadness I felt to completely envelop me. I found myself wide awake in the middle of the night, replaying her last minutes over and over again. The sound of her panting. The look in her eyes. The weight of her body as she laid across me. I hated doing that and hope to never do it again but I also know I couldn't have done it any other way. I know she was just a pet, but she was our pet for almost 12 years. As Brad and I talked last night before bed, he quietly said, "I miss the Bersh." I miss her too.

And then there was Austin. Austin who has been struggling with urinary frequency and UTI's which are both rather uncommon in boys. Austin who had to have blood work and an ultrasound to determine if everything was ok. And on Tuesday, just hours before I would be putting down the dog, I sat with him at the lab waiting for his blood work. For close to two hours I entertained him and waited patiently for our turn. And when our turn came, we were met with a phlebotomist that could. not. find a vein and instead dug around in my little man's arm. His screams turned to sheer panic as she poked and poked, asking me to please calm him down. I finally lost it and asked her to stop. She then tried to fill two vials off a finger prick and after several minutes of him still screaming, and now throwing up, I pulled him away and left. I was shaking in anger and frustration and horrified at what had just happened.

And once my tears started, I couldn't stop them.

I think I cried for most of Tuesday, something that used to be quite common for me but which now never happens. I haven't cried like that in years and I felt foolish but also felt a relief. I showed up at my sister-in-law house where she literally held me as I wept. My friend Heather was there and I was truly embarrassed but I also felt a comfort in being in the company of women who know and letting it out. They consoled me. They comforted me. They lifted me up when I was so far down.

And that started a shift in things. Because even though my sadness was very real, there were still so many things to be happy about.

Dinner arrived at my house that Tuesday afternoon and a hug from a dear friend.

A phone call was made early the next morning to check on me and see how I was doing.

A sweet note and a loaf of warm bread was dropped by unexpectedly.

And it all reminded me that it's okay to let the tears flow, to give in to what you're feeling and let yourself be comforted. The bond of sisterhood that I am lucky enough to be a part of is a very real thing, and I am blessed to have women around me to hold me up. To let me work through it. To listen and comfort and love me despite the hysterics and tears.

And now here I am, one week later, and things are ok. We still miss Hershey and will for some time, but we're now remembering all the silly things she used to do. Austin's results came back clear and declared him in perfect health. The garage sale was a huge success, raising over $450 for my team. And Spence loved every second of his party.

I survived the roller coaster of last week, largely in part to the people around me. I lost control and cried myself through it and came out okay. I was strong enough to do what I never thought I could and learned so much along the way. I know it's silly that it all came from an overweight chocolate lab, but it did.

Hersh & the kids, July 2010

And for that, I am grateful.


Julia Allen said...

This post just left me all weepy. Cuz I've had those weeks/days/years and having people around you who love you through it is priceless.

And I just love it when the people poking your child ask YOU to keep said child calm. I'm proud of you for asking her to stop. That Austin is a lucky kid to have you as a mom.

Amy said...

When will I learn to check who is logged in before I leave comments? Answer:probably never.

Heather said...

i'm tearing up just reading this... we've traded places in the crying department over the last few years. Are you ready to trade back yet? :)

tharker said...

It can be hard to just let go and let others comfort you and take care of you. You are constantly doing SO much for others, and I'm so happy that the women in your life were able to give back to you! We all love you dearly, Karen.

So glad to hear that all is well with Austin. That's great news!

Jenn said...

I love this about you. That you can take hard things and make them ok in the end. It is such a great example to me. I hope you get a chance to breathe this week!

Mimi said...

While all of this was going on, and your grandma too, you were reaching out to others to care for them (like me!) You are pretty amazing in that way. I agree with Jenn, you look for the life lesson in all of this and that is such a wonderful example. I am sorry you and your family are going through this.

Kelly said...

My heart aches for you today. You deserve a break and I'm so sorry you're not getting one yet. Stay strong,I'm glad you have such a strong support group around you. I wish I could just swing by and give you a big hug.