Monday, November 7, 2016

Dear Joe

First of all, happy birthday. You would be nine today. This morning I would've opened my eyes and snuggled you (and possibly sang to you) and told you how we'd celebrate when I got home from work later. I would've brought you some cake and ice cream and a toy that I'm sure Maggie would have immediately claimed as her own. You wouldn't have cared, you always shared your toys. I would've made you both pose in silly party hats and posted the pics on Facebook for everyone to look at. You see, a lot of people loved you besides just me. A lot of people had their day brightened by a cute Joe Boxer pic. I think it's safe to say you had a fan base.

Today is going to be a little different. 11/7 will always be different, for the rest of my life. Today I woke up and thought of you as Jake and I did our morning ritual of me hitting snooze and him snuggling up on my shoulder to catch a few more ZZZ's. I finally got up and had to coax him out of bed, just like I sometimes had to do with you. We went downstairs and Jake went outside to go potty then came trotting back in and waited at the treat jar, just like every other morning. He ate his treat and we headed back upstairs. I scratched his butt as he walked and he stopped at the landing so I could rub his back, too. We do this every morning now. It's comforting to me. I like it- it's good for me. And it's good for Jake.

I was looking through old pics this morning. I wanted to remember all your other birthdays. I always tried to make them special with cake or treats and presents and party hats and singing. You were the light in my life and I wanted to celebrate you every single day. Although my memories aren't all as vivid as they used to be, I still remember so much. The time you bit Kevin's head because he wouldn't stop shaking me by the shoulders (he was joking, and I did warn him, but he thought it was funny- till he was sporting tooth marks in his forehead). When you heard my friends out in our yard late one night trying to wrap my car in Saran Wrap- I didn't hear a thing but you sure did- you alerted me right away. You always kept me safe. I remember days of working as a waitress and coming home to find something new you had destroyed (digital camera, medicine ball, remote)- that's when I had to start crating you. But you were OK with it and always happy to see me when I got home.

We went on road trips together. You were my best buddy, my sidekick. I lost track of how many nights you watched me cry from whatever man had broken my heart at that particular time and you leaned on me and licked my tears till I couldn't do anything but laugh and hug you and feel lucky to have you as my dog. I could look at you, just a look, maybe a head tilt, and you could read what I was thinking. People may not believe that but you and I know it was true. You understood me and I understood you.

That's why I knew I had to let you go that day. I knew in my heart you were ready and you were done- that you had fought as hard as you could and I fought with you but we weren't going to win this one. Life has not been all that great for me since you left. I always said that it would drive me to the brink of insanity to lose you but I didn't realize how true that statement actually was. I miss you every single day and I'm not sure what I would do if I didn't have Jake to hold onto at night. I often wonder what you'd think of him...he's kind of an asshole but that's a puppy thing and I do recall you were a bit of an asshole till about age 4. Of course I say that about Jake just as lovingly as I said it about you. It's a term of endearment, it truly is.

Tonight Barb from Camp (you remember Camp, you liked to go there and play) will probably come over and share some wine with me. It's not just any wine- it's a special bottle she brought me on New Year's Eve 2015- two days after I had to let you go. It was my favorite wine and they had stopped making it but somehow she brought me a bottle. I said I would save that bottle till your birthday and raise my glass to what an amazing dog you were, and it still sits in the cupboard today. I plan to sit and think about all the ways you were my perfect boy. Jake and Maggie will wear hats and they'll get some cake. I will be as upbeat as I can but make no guarantees I won't cry. Crying is good- it means you affected me that deeply. You changed my life, Joe Boxer. I wouldn't trade one moment for anything.

Someday I hope to see you again. Sometimes I think you're still all around me. I look for signs but I can't be sure. Happy birthday, my boy. Mama loves you to the moon and back and always will.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

A soul not so black

This week I helped rescue a puppy that was being sold on a Detroit garage sale site. I say helped because it was truly a joint effort...I found her and wanted to save her but my friends and family, being the amazing people they are, all assisted to make it happen. For two days I argued with the seller who kept standing me up on when he'd bring this sweet baby to me. A lot of people who care about me were worried he was scamming me or that he was setting me up to be robbed. Some thought there was no puppy at all and that he was stringing me along. My heart told me to keep on trying anyway- to not give up just yet.

And last night, this beautiful baby was placed in my arms.

I don't have proper words for the emotions that came over me when I was finally holding her. I was going to be able to make sure she had an amazing life with a loving forever family. The fact that I had the power to forever change the world for this sweet little soul made it all worth it. 

I don't get to assist with rescue nearly as often as I'd like, but I do what I can. I wish I could save every single animal in need that I come across, but I can't. I've been asked, in a roundabout way, why I put myself through it. I don't even view it that way. This is my chance to do two things: make a difference in the world one animal at a time and maybe, just maybe, save myself from believing all the horrible things my brain- my depression- tries to tell me about myself on a daily basis.

You see, even when I'm not having "an episode" or a low moment, I'm almost always fighting a struggle inside. I'm ugly, I'm useless, I drink too much, I have gained too much weight. I'm not a good friend, not a good daughter. And definitely not a good wife. All these marks against me have made me feel like my soul has turned black and that there's nothing special or worthy about me. When I save a life it makes me feel like maybe I'm not all those things, at least for a little while. I feel like a good person who is making contributions to the world rather than just pathetically existing until she dies. Animals have always had a way of making me feel more selfless, more giving and more kind. 

Some days I feel pretty inside and out. Those are the days you'll see me on Facebook being cheerful and funny, and posting selfies. The majority of the time, though, I'm just struggling to get out of bed, put on my big girl pants and face the world without wanting to retreat. Animals help me with that. 

So that's why I do the things I do. Maybe someday when I meet my maker, if there is one, he'll forgive the bad things I've done in my life because the good things will overshadow them. 

And when I get there, I expect all the dogs, cats, hamsters, birds, squirrels, frogs (and any other creatures I may have left out) I have rescued and loved to be waiting for me. That, to me, sounds just like heaven. 

Monday, January 18, 2016


I decided to start my old blog back up. I've tried to do this a few times in the past but got too busy (or too lazy) to actually follow through.

I'm starting back up because I don't know how to handle this all-consuming grief I feel inside over losing Joe Boxer. I'm hoping that writing things out somewhere other than Facebook will help me somehow and that my entries can go back to being witty and fun like they used to be. I deleted all my previous entries, though. I just want to start fresh. They still exist but they aren't visible to anyone. Maybe I'll repost them someday. Maybe not. 

Back to Joe. I don't have adequate words to describe the pain I am feeling inside. Tomorrow will be three weeks since I made the choice to end his pain and while on the outside I might seem OK, I'm not. I am absolutely 100% NOT OK. I cry at random times- it just comes without warning. Sometimes the realization that he's gone hits me out of nowhere and my body physically jolts like someone just pushed me incredibly hard. I don't know how to deal with this. Joe was my best friend, my constant companion. The only being on this planet that has never hurt me...except when he had to leave. 

I don't feel alive anymore. I don't want this to be a slap in the face to those in my life because I still love everyone, especially Tom and Maggie, very much. But when Joe left something inside of me died. It feels like any sparkle I had is gone and I don't know how to get it back. I don't even know if it WILL come back. I feel like I am existing day to day and when things get particularly hard I reach for alcohol (and no, this is not a cry for help and NO, I do not have a drinking problem so please do NOT come at me with any suggestion that I do because you'll be abruptly shut down) because it's the only way to numb this terrible, terrible pain in my heart. I want to touch him and pet him. I want to hear him running through the house because right now, even with Maggie around, the house has an eerie, devastating silence that I can't fill no matter how loudly I play my music or what volume the TV is on. 

I sleep with the blanket he covered up with during the last few weeks of his life. I don't do it every night- I save it for nights that are the hardest, like last night. Out of nowhere, sitting on the couch with Tom I started to cry. I don't know why. I just thought of Joe and admitted out loud that I missed him and the tears came. I tucked myself in with his blanket by my face and wished for a dream about him so that I could see him again...and a dream came alright, but a bad one. I woke up around 2am ready to cry and had a hard time getting back to sleep. 

I don't understand how an otherwise healthy dog can get sick and go downhill so fast. Some swelling the night before Thanksgiving and gone by December 29th. How the fuck is that fair? Why did cancer take over my beloved boy and make him hurt and cry? How can something like that happen to such a beautiful, selfless animal? I fucking HATE cancer. I hate it all. I hate reading posts about people and animals who have cancer. It isn't fair. But that's life, right? Life is rarely fair. 

Bringing home his urn last Friday was one of the worst days of my life, almost worse than when I had to let him go. I don't have words for the tightness in my chest and the pain in my heart. I don't have words for the anger, sadness, frustration, loneliness and shock that was attacking my system all at once. I thought I knew pain from stupid breakups and other things that have happened to me in my life but I didn't have a clue till then. A month ago that day I had my boy and I still had some hope. Then, January 15th, I was holding an urn with his ashes. The urn itself is beautiful and I'm grateful that I have it because I plan to be buried with it. But that didn't stop the tears and pain and I honestly don't think anything will. I don't think I'll ever feel 100% happy again. I might get close, but never fully there. 

How do I keep going without him? I genuinely want to know. I feel like my joy has been stolen and I won't ever get it back. I miss him so fucking much. I would do anything to get him back. I have to stop writing since I'm on lunch at work and no one likes a crying front desk person. 

Mama loves you so much, Joe Joe.