Entering the Next Phase

So I'm packing my bags and getting ready to head home.

I've been here in Sparks, Nevada, since the 11th, and would gladly stay longer if that is what my girl required. But she is ready to try and go it alone. Rip the bandaid off, so to speak.

Jim's death has hit us all hard, but especially, of course, his wife—my daughter—because he was the love of her life, her match, her half, her perfect guy. Only two and a half years married and now she is a widow.  He's given her a Sparks family—his kids—who love Megan; and involvement in a business, Victory Woodworks, that needs her contributions. But no matter the needs of yoga teaching, estate management, texting kids, online shopping for kids, the pending trip with the kids to Disneyland, and the endless list of "to-dos," there are still the lonely nights. Enter Ambien and the welcome drugged sleep of forgetting.

I was so proud of her when she told me she was not ready to be alone. So I came. We joked that I was her minion, Kevin, and that a minion has no opinion. I just go and do as I am told. And I was happy to do so. But she knew the day would come for me to go home. It's here.

My kid is amazing. And she hates being told she is amazing, or inspiring, or strong, or any of the synonyms associated with graceful grieving. How crappy it is to be incredible. Wouldn't it be awesome to sit in a corner and melt away? But she is not built that way. None of the women in my family are built that way.

During the past few weeks I have become the student as my kid's actions and attitudes have taught me much. About how to behave in a marriage, and how to feel about yourself no matter your situation.

As I have mentioned in text conversations with many who have reached out to me, watching your child grieve is awful. She was so dang happy. And we were thrilled to have such a fantastic son-in-law. After a painful divorce, she found extreme joy with Jim. Now here we are in the sad bag again.

I don't press my beliefs on anyone, but I am glad I have them. For according to my faith, I know where Jim is, and that he is very much alive. Jim did not become extinct when he died, and neither will I. And when it is my time to move on, I know who will be there with that big smile, and he'll say, as he did on so many occasions, "Your daughter is so awesome!"

First Let's Address the Worthless Creatures

Since dogs are in the title of this mess, I might as well introduce them.

There were three. Yes, "were." Gus, the Elderdog, a West Highland White Terrier, was the first to pave the way for dogdom in our house. I never wanted him, but the husband, and most of the chix, were all for him. So he became part of the family. As a pleasant surprise he was not a gross dog and didn't do the things I feared a dog would do, such as dig, chew furniture, bark excessively, or lay around and lick himself constantly.

Because he was a positive experience, I weakened and got another a few years later. This dog was not such a positive experience. Miles, the very expensive, very good looking, rather dim-witted, Mini Schnauzer joined us as a well-intentioned, but greatly regretted, Christmas gift. Miles' saving grace is that he loves me—deeply, truly, disturbingly. No one on the planet, husband included, loves me as much as this mutt does.

Then, when my guard was down, I fell victim to Charlie the Rescue, who is something along the lines of a terrier. He is a pretty good dog, but also a runner. Leave him an open door and he is out and peeing on the neighborhood, only to come home when he has sufficiently marked his territory and is hungry. He's not stupid...he knows where his meal ticket is.

For quite a few years there were three, but then Gussie got old (14) and acquired some of the problems incident to age and I had to put him to sleep. Admittedly one of the worst experiences of my life—petting and loving on a little dog as he leaves this life. Such a crappy experience.

So now we are left with two. Charlie and Miles. They are about the same size and fit nicely under my desk and office chair. They huddle around the mini-heater at my feet in the winter, and stretch out on the carpet like sultans in the summer. Now that the chix have all flown the nest, these two keep me company while the husband is out doing business.

Some may say, "What a sad end to a productive life..." But those who have dogs, and actually like them, will feel differently. Yes, they can smell (wet dog—one of the worst smells ever). Yes, they can have bad habits (Gus rolled his neck in poo). Yes, they are a pain when you go out of town and have to find someone to take care of them, and yes, they can be expensive ("$130.00 to clean teeth? Are you serious?"). But there is something about having a dog (having three was a bit over the top). They love you and are loyal. Some spouses can't say the same. And who is as happy to see you when you come back in from checking the mail?