Sunday, December 30, 2007

It All Comes Down to Love

My excuse was the holidays. With all of the hustle bustle , I just didn’t notice. Throwing cookie parties, shopping, going to the post office, waiting for news about my sister in laws baby delivery, buying birthday gifts + tons of Christmas gifts, finding clothes for mass, seeing friends, etc.. I just didn’t notice.

“She’s just getting old”, I thought.. “it’s typical for her age.”

Whatever my excuse, I finally realized, my dog Mallory wasn’t quite right. I’ve probably known intuitively for a long time. Her breath remained bad even though she’s on a good diet, and her hind legs began to shake a few months ago. She did appear to be losing weight and her food stayed there often but she always had a ton of energy when we came home and when it was time for her daily walk.

But I should have known. She’s got a liver disease. It’s the same one her mom, brother and sister died from within the past few years. When I got her weighed at the vet, I was surprised to find out she'd lost over 10 lbs. Her long hair hid it for so long.

When I finally got the test results back, the vet told me to come right in and we’d start the IV. I dropped everything, got dressed and came in. I couldn’t even cry because she hates stress and can’t stand anyone yelling or crying. I promised I’d remain strong for her.

Friends responded quickly to my urgent plea for prayers and asking support for Mallory. We spent two days between my husband and me, at the Vet while she got the IV. She came home with us at night with it, because I didn’t think she’d make it without us. She gets terribly depressed when we’re not around.

I brought my books, my blackberry and my journal and Sway had his computer when it was his turn. But, Mallory liked it best when I sang to her and hugged her and pet her. I sang her a song I made up, “Jesus loves the little doggies”. I think she particularly liked that one. I had to continue to reassure her when she tried to pull out the IV with her teeth.

The technicians and the staff said we were troopers for camping out. But I have no idea what other people would do? Would they leave their dog there? A hospital is a lonely place. I know, I’ve stayed in one for a month when I had my baby. (Truth be known, I got a ton of work done, watched a lot of great movies and enjoyed my time there with the exception of all of the tubes and such!)

But being with Mallory, sitting, laying on a bean bag trying to get comfortable with my pinched nerve in my back, there wasn’t anywhere else that we’d rather be. Love is love. It doesn’t matter if its your dog or a baby or a friend. If you love someone, you’ll do what you can to help them feel better and survive whatever they’re doing through.

Mallory will be on her 3rd day of an IV today at home. We'll take turns. The vet is a personal friend so she'll probably come over and deliver more fluids for us. My mom came over at 5am this morning to help us change the bad but for some reason it wouldn't work.

We'll do what we can do for Mallory to make her comfortable and to give her the best chance at a good life. If it becomes unbearable for her, I'd rather have her out of her misery. I can't stand to see her suffer. I want her to have a good quality of life and not one where she's in pain. I only want the best for her because I love her.

It all comes down to love.

Mary's comment:
Sadly, Mallory died about a week after this post. Sway and I worked hard to keep her alive. We consulted with a homeopathic doctor, and our vet. We administered IV's to her for 5 days 24/7. We sat with her at the vet and at home and when she stopped eating, we syringed fed her for about a week both day and night. We were mentally and physically exhausted. When we realized that nothing was going to cure her, we decided to have her put to sleep. We did it because she no longer wanted to be around anyone and she no longer wanted to eat.

We cried and criedd and didn't tell our son for a full day so we could be more controlled. When we told him he said that his "heart was cracking." I think we all felt like that.

We will always fondly remember Mallory - "Clew Bay Key West Wind" Our darling wonderful pet and friend.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Fun Christmas Activity

Do you remember how it was when we were all growing up in our neighborhoods? Remember running to each others house, or being outside and playing one of the many games like kick ball, mother may I, Red light, Green light, or pickle, with the tons of kids who lived in the neighborhood? Remember staying outside until the street lights came on and then coming in for dinner and then going right back out after dinner was over?

Times have changed of course. People say that kids are all inside watching TV and on the computers but what they forget is that the moms are having to work and can’t sit outside to make sure their kids aren’t being kidnapped or molested. We are living in a different day and time, but that doesn’t prohibit us from dreaming that our kids will somehow get to experience the fun times that we experienced when we were kids.

Well, yesterday, they did get to experience it. And what a ball it was!

I happened to make about 6 batches of sugar cookies and had a lot of cookie decorating sprinkles left over from last years TV tour. So, I called some of the parents and invited them over yesterday afternoon and spontaneously asked some of the other kids walking by if they could come over for a little cookie decorating party. By 5PM we had about 10 kids and 3 other adults. One of my gal friends brought some snacks while I provided the beer, and everyone had a great time decorating the cookies. The mounds of icing that was piled up on the cookies was a bit gross, but the kids never tired of eating the cookies, the icing and then running throughout the house and front and back yard, chasing each other and having a great time.

It was fun for all of us parents to see our kids have so much fun together. The kids were enjoying being kids and getting to have a party of their own. I kept the cookies churning out and the adults with drinks, and had lots of help from my friends who monitored the cookie decorating. We took lots of pictures and had Christmas music in the background. A perfect afternoon!

Some times, we just have to recreate what we remembered what was so fun for all of us as kids. It’s like that story of living in the dash. When a person dies, they have the years they lived from their birth date until the date that they die. In between those two dates is a dash. And it’s that dash that is the most important… how they lived every day.

Yesterday was a dream come true for me. I was able to create a day of carefree fun for my child and all of his neighborhood friends. It wasn’t packed full of activities that they had to do, nor were we running from place to place trying to fill our schedule. We had a simple day at home, with a bunch of cookies, some sprinkles and lots of kids.

I always wanted to be the fun mom when I grew up.. the one who had everyone over and had the fun house. And yesterday I was that mom. It was a perfect day of laughter and friendship and creativity. And I know we need more days just like that one.

My mind is now spinning with the possibilities with art projects, craft projects, cooking afternoons, or even having a neighborhood play. I have dozens of Halloween costumes, and I can just see it now… with all of the kids dressing up!!

The fun times.. we just have to let them happen sometimes. Give the kids some tools and let them get involved with it. These are the memories that they’ll bring into the future, and try to recreate for their children one day. And the most interesting thing, is that these memories the kids are getting, gives such satisfaction to the parents.

Time to create more memories… the bus is almost here!

The Walk

Sway and I have started a ritual that we’ve done before and now is a valued part of our day and our life. We take a morning walk.

I have to admit, this is the time of year that we’re so eternally grateful to be living in Central Florida. It’s about 65 degrees in the morning and just blue, blue skies. We take the dog and we walk about the 2 small lakes that are near our house and we run into neighbors and say hello to other couples who are taking their morning walk.

When we lived in Princeton, NJ, we’d walk along Lake Carnegie and we’d both take the time to coach one another. One would talk on the way up the lake and the other would listen and then we’d switch and let the other talk while the other coached and listened. It was so great to just process the day before and to plan the day ahead. For many years then, we walked in Central Park in NYC and now, we walk the beautiful neighborhoods in Winter Park, where we now live.

I find that in today’s world, which is so crazy busy all of the time, that it’s hard to take the time to connect with my husband. When we’re home, I’m usually doing laundry, or cleaning something or making dinner or putting Jeremy in the tub or to bed. Sway is usually doing something on the “honey do” list or at his computer, returning emails that are urgent from one of his companies. Every morning, one of us is up and at the YMCA at 5:30 to meet our work out partners, and Sunday, is really the only day we get to sleep in. We’re both working hard to maintain a balanced lifestyle, and that means that we HAD to find time to connect with one another.

The walks have now become something we both look forward to. On days that he has an early morning meeting or has to interview someone, he can’t go on the walk, but our dog Mallory is forever faithful and will start barking at me to take her. If I have an early morning client, then Mallory usually gives up and heads to the back to hang out on her favorite chair. But nothing takes the place of a walk for her. That is “it” for her.

Today we said hi to a gal who I’ve met a few times on my walks and we talked about the differences of the prep schools versus the Catholic school versus the public schools here in Winter Park. It was a great perspective that we hadn’t heard before. So, I’m guessing that on our next walk, we might discuss that as an option for our child one day. Today we discussed what to do over the holiday and who we need to buy gifts for. It is usually simple conversation, but so very important to our lives.

For those of us who work, and get those 2 minute conversations with our mate throughout the day, taking time to walk is a great addition to the day. Not only are we getting a bit more exercise than normal, but we’re connecting as friends. I’ve found that that is so important during our busy lives, which are filled with stressful moments.

Try the walk. You might be pleasantly surprised.