nippy sweetie

Death and the Fool from the Book of Hours. Use of Rome, MS Douce 135, 16th century. Via Bodelian Library
Death and the Fool from the Book of Hours. Use of Rome, MS Douce 135, 16th century. Via Bodleian Library

Dear Internet,

My ToDo list for Sunday looked like this

  • Return the growing pile of phone calls
  • Clean out my personal inbox and respond/follow up to emails
  • Pay bills
  • Get .ca/.us passports prepped to send 
  • Get caught up on work related readings
  • Start draft of article due in a little over a week
  • Do laundry
  • Get caught up on reading
  • Write letters (Pete, Alice, et al)

That’s what I wrote down at least.

What was completed are the items with a strike through and those three items took up most of my day — and I started after watching Canada kicked Sweden’s ass in hockey this morning.

The passport stuff was daunting as I thought I had lost my US social security card and my short form CA birth certificate, which sent me into a tizzy for an hour ripping things apart until I realised they were binder clipped together with other important cards that I had moved to another location on my desk.

TheHusband cheerily quipped, “Don’t worry! I won’t let them deport you!”

The US passport stuff is ready to go and that will get dropped in the mail on the morrow. CA stuff, however, is a bit confusing. I had to provide two non-relative references, an emergency point of contact of someone whom I don’t travel with so that became my brother, and then I need to track down a guarantor to prove who I am. The confusion is the wording on whom the guarantor is because it alludes it could be my husband but that he must hold a position [list of positions] in addition to knowing me for at least two years. It’s not clear then if I choose to do a guarantor by profession, such as a notary, why the sworn statement on the application states they must have known me for at least two years while the documents say this is not true. I aim to call Canada’s passport office in the next few days to get this all sorted so that I can get my passport updated.

So while I felt tremendously pleased with myself for getting the big stuff out of the way, my email was a brute, I couldn’t believe it took me almost the entire day to get completed. Because I knew I was going to spend the day working on cleaning out my ToDo list, a few days prior, I spent a few hours getting my office sorted. What this really came down to was shifting piles of paper everywhere.

If Wednesday was here, she’d be having a fit she couldn’t get to some of her regular lounging spots.

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wednesdaysurn

Wednesday has been gone for three weeks. I picked up her urn last week, with TheHusband in tow. I cried when they handed me the bag that contained her urn and paw print, TheHusband was sniffling in the car when I came out of the vet’s office.

There is a very definite stillness of the house without her here.

We’ve been doing okay, says the girl tearing up writing these words. TheHusband started writing Requiem for a Pug, which was to be her life story starting from her birth as a poor Spartan Pug up to her death, but he got as far as chapter two and then stopped because he got too depressed. I’m prodding him to continue because the photoshop jobs he’s done of her on various famous figures through history alone is worth the posts.

The house is quiet and I still catch myself looking for her in her usual haunts or hearing her nails click on the floor. We’ve started barking at the other when we return home from outings, because that would be what Wednesday would do to admonish us for leaving her alone longer than 2 minutes.

I had to stop looking at my personal Instagram and Flickr feeds and moved all of her pictures to a cloud storage so I couldn’t randomly stumble upon them, for when I did, I would burst into tears. I put her tags on a chain to wear around my neck, and it has now become my touchstone when I need comfort.

Even if in slight silliness, it this all sounds sounds slightly sad and pathetic, but you cope.

To help with the grieving, TheHusband bought me Fat Tuesday from squishables.com:

fattuesday

Fat Tuesday is perfect for snuggling, doesn’t tear holes in the bedsheets, hogs the bed, or randomly farts you out on a daily basis. We don’t have to feed her, walk her, or worry about being gone too long when we leave the house. She also fits perfectly in-between the two pillow mountains on the bed. And there is not a quick flash of guilt if you accidentally kick her if she gets under your feet.

She also has no personality and is filled with stuffing.

Yet having Fat Tuesday has helped, tremendously, with our loss.

We’ve decided to hold off on getting another pet at this time, until we know what my job situation is going to look like in a few months. Even more poignantly if we need to move or travel considerably. Plus Wednesday was beloved by all that met her and incredibly special, replacing a living being that loved you so unconditionally seems crass and maybe a tiny bit cruel.

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In other cruel things:

Screen Shot 2014-02-23 at 1.10.43 PM

That’s our weather forecast for the week, in the last week of February. Where the fuck is spring??

xoxo,
Lisa

This day in Lisa-Universe: 2013, 2013

boats against the current

Screen Shot 2014-02-02 at 11.30.54 AM

Dear Internet,

Mother never explained death to me, so you can imagine at the age of 41 how naive I must feel.

Birth, of course, was an entirely different matter. She didn’t have any problem giving me explicit details of how my brother was conceived (clinically) and what was going to happen when she went into labor. She was a nurse by training so it may not have seem that odd to her to explain to her six year old where babies came from. I took this knowledge to my Catholic school playground where within days of my new education, I told my class the vivid details of human birth and dismissed the old trope of a stork and such. Mother was called in to reign in her precocious offspring and to stop scaring the children with such wild stories.

Death. Death was a whole ‘nother matter.

People who died in my family were so far removed, I didn’t understand the concept of what it meant to die until nearly high school. If a death would occur, it would be my mother or one of her sibling’s aunts, uncles,  cousins, or high school friend they hadn’t seen in a decade. People I knew in name only or had met once or twice. My paternal grandparents were well into their 80s when I came along, and my maternal grandmother had died right after I was born. I did not attend my first funeral until I was 24 when my grandfather died in 1996.

We had no pets growing up, except for fish who seemed to die as rapidly as they were replaced. Well, that’s not entirely true. My brother and I had kittens we had rescued after we had moved to Grand Rapids in the late 1980s. A few weeks after we had them, my mother had accidentally stepped on of them, paralyzing it. She threw the still living cat into the apartment dumpster, where it was rescued shortly after by a neighbor who took it to have it humanely put down.

After a few years of apartment living and Mother’s boyfriend hopping, we finally landed in the house on Paris Ave., a 1920s craftsman house not unlike Throbbing Manor. We somehow gained ownership of a Pomeranian puppy, named Max, that became beloved by my brother, and a Maine Coon cat named Chester, who was my cat until I moved out a few years later. Max was hit by a car within months of his arrival when he escaped out the front door one day. Chester became Mother’s cat and best friend after I moved out and remained that way until she put him down a few years ago at the ripe old age of 20.

So while I had relationships with pets and people and rationally knew dying existed, yet death was often removed from my day to day life so I had no coping skills when it did happen. While I would grieve when these pets or long lost friends were lost, the grieving never last long. It was more the loss of a life rather than a loss of something I loved.

Shortly after we moved into Throbbing Manor, Wednesday had a seizure. Within a couple of months, she would have a few more seizures and shortly after, benign lumps would be found on her spleen and removed.

The seizures, idiopathic in nature, had no warning signs. The last one she had was last summer while we were up at Throbbing Cabin. I had spent the night with her in my arms, tucked in like a baby, while the seizure did its thing. This was a growing concern as  they would increase as she got older. She also had benign fatty deposits on her body, that while not fatal, could become more cosmetically problematic as she aged. Prednisone could destroy her liver. She was a ticking time bomb.

In the three years since the first seizure, she would come perilously close to death many times only to have a miraculous recovery. And in those three years, I grieved numerous times over when I thought it was time to let her go. I knew this was coming and we were living on borrowed time. That’s the funny thing about pets – they are fine until they are aren’t. They are not like humans in there is a progression with an illness. It would just hit you fast like a truck.

Against the prediction of the vet, Wednesday rebounded when we upped her Prednisone during her last week. But I knew this was a temporary fix. A very minor temporary fix. Even on the upped dose, she had maybe three months left before her liver would fail, or she slip on the wood floor and break a bone and not feel it, or something equally worse. She had had no control over her facilities and no feeling in her back legs. She would lie happily in her own shit and had no idea she had defecated herself.

The vet had told us this appointment was not a permanent appointment. We could cancel it any time. We came tantalizingly close to canceling the appointment during the week as Wednesday seemed to improve, but I knew it was time. I could bear cleaning up her shit and piss, but I could not bear the thought of her being in pain or her liver going out or her breaking something, a real fear TheHusband and I often discussed. We came even closer to canceling when the weather shifted and we were slated to get 5-8″ of snow Saturday morning.

We agreed Wednesday had attempted to make a deal with the devil.

They had us in a private room, and I could hold her or they could take her away. In respect for her, I wanted to be there when she died. They put a catheter in her paw with a sedative, so when they brought her back to me, she was snoring in the vet’s arms. Two shots would be injected vis the catheter, the drugs whose names I cannot remember, but her death would be peaceful. And quick.

Within seconds of the second drug was injected, I felt her last breath leave her body. I was petting the unicorn bump on her forehead when she died and I remember gasping in the fastness of it all. One minute she was in my arms, pawing at my hand to get comfy on my lap, and the next she was frolicking in the fields over the rainbow bridge.

TheHusband, supportive of my decision, was a pessimist about Wednesday’s illnesses over the years. He warned he was prepared for her death because he had many pets over the years who died and while it was sad and painful, it would be okay. It was just a pet.

Except.

Except, it didn’t work out that way. He cried when I cried, and if he cried, I cried. He panicked when we got to the vet because he didn’t know we would be with Wednesday when she died. He thought we would hand her over and leave. He choose to support me by staying in the private room with us, but he did not watch her die. And I was okay with that.

We had packed up all the unused food and medicine and donated it to the vet for families and pets who could use it. We had decided to keep Wednesday’s dog bed and food/water bowls in case we opt to get another dog later in the future.

The drive home was somber.

My brother and his girlfriend picked us up shortly after we got home and we went on a all day drinking spree across the city. Four pubs in nine hours, we came home late Saturday night with our hangovers starting and our sadness permeating our actions.

Our sleep was broken Saturday night, partially from drink and partially from unsurety. There was no 20lb lump keeping us apart and we were stumbling on how to cope. Sunday morning brought awkwardness. No dog to walk meant no we didn’t have to jump out of bed when our eyes opened.

After my allergy testing in the fall of 2011, and discovering I was allergic to lots of things including dogs, which forced our hand to be more vigilant in how our laundry was done. Comforter was steam cleaned by the dryer, along with the pillows, on a regular basis. Sheets rotated at least weekly, but more like bi-weekly. I was acclimated to Wednesday’s dander but coupled with the beefed up cleaning schedule, I was still plagued with the occasional hives and itchies.

It was the weekend, of course, for us to do all of those things. TheHusband gathered up all of Wednesday’s beds and steam cleaned them and packed them away. We washed her leash and harness, along with her food and water bowls, and packed those away as well. Her stuffed pug, the one she got when she was young pug, was washed and will now live on pillow mountain, where Wednesday would rightfully be.

I put Wednesday’s name tag on an extra long chain so it would be close to my heart.

We spent Sunday in enlonged periods of silence as we worked. There was no herding to the bedroom when it was time for bed, no impatient waiting at the top of the stairs as we came and went from the basement. No truffle hunting in the kitchen for the crumbs that may have fallen. No prolonged staring that was her way of begging as we ate. Dinner was a silent affair.

I felt lonely while TheHusband watched football in the Rumpus Room and I was pecking at this piece in the bedroom. I fondled her name tag a lot and tried not to cry as there was no 20lb lump who threw herself on my left side when she could get the chance. No bed hog who would plant her self between my legs at night, trapping me in.

TheHusband is taking her death more deeply then I had anticipated and I suspect in the next few weeks, it will be worse for us both. He is beginning to comprehend his constant companion, the living thing he spent 24 hours a day with, is no longer going to be around. He asked me to take down the house rules we had on our fridge, which included Wednesday specific instructions, because it was too painful to look at. Tonight I caught him trying to pet the air while we were snuggled up in bed and then we both cried.

She is everywhere in this house. I can see her in my mind’s eye at the locations I expect her to be and I can hear the tapping of her nails against the wooden floor as she followed me everywhere. I can see her drunken sailor walk speed up when she saw me come through the door at night and the roll over onto the floor for belly rubs when TheHusband stuck his foot near her.

To work through the grief, TheHusband started writing Wednesday’s obituary, beginning with her birth in Sparta in 510 BCE  and so far, up to when she wrote Pug and PugjudiceAdditional chapters will be forthcoming.

She was the most interesting pug in the world. And she will never be forgotten.

xoxo,
Lisa

This day in Lisa-Universe: 

So Long, and Thanks for all the Pizza Crust (Part II)

Previously: Wednesday is born, she fights with Leonidas, and she becomes king of the yews.

Fearing more trouble in the Roman world, Wednesday quickly made her way to Scandinavia.  She toiled for years trying to strike it rich with her questionable businesses.

Examples include:

  • “Fjord Fiesta” A margarita bar for the weary bearded traveler.
  • “Fjord Escape” Iron age Eco-tourism.
  • “Fjord Focus” Ophthalmology practice.
  • “Fjord Edge” Axe sharpening services.
Mind the gap, where you intestines used to be!
Mind the gap, where you intestines used to be!

After nearly 1000 years of failed business ventures, Wednesday decided to get back in the soildering game.  She married a princess (The Danes have always been progressive), amassed an army, and attempted to conquer England.

After many failures, using her her years fighting with Leonidas as her guide, Wednesday finally conquered England and became known as Pug Forkbeard.

After conquering and unifying England, Wednesday decided to fade from the limelight to pursue her more creative endeavors. She then spent nearly the next millennium in England, traveling around the countryside gathering stories and hoarding grain where she decided to embark on the greatest writing career known to pugkind

She reminisced about her time there during an appearance on The Mike Douglas Show in 1966.

Prose before milkbones
Prose before milkbones

“I took a liking to England right away, something in there air there unlocked by creative juices.  Probably emissions from all the rotting teeth; or the gas from the terrible food; or the terrible weather; or maybe the the miasma of cancer vapors from the collective national stiff upper lip.  Wait, why did I like this place again?”

During a prolific period between 1589 and 1613 Wednesday wrote 37 plays and 154 sonnets whose imprint on the English language and world culture cannot be overstated.

Among the most famous words in world literature is the opening soliloquy to Wednesday’s theatrical masterpiece Puglet:

To pee, or not to pee, that is the question–
Whether ’tis Nobler in the loin to suffer
The Stings and Arrows of distended bladder,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of urine

No comment, my wife will hit me if I say what I think of Pug Austen
No comment, my wife will hit me if I say what I think of Pug Austen

Wednesday’s coffers finally filled from her scheme as a grain trader and playwright, decides to to take the opportunity to focus her considerable talents on writing novels.

Between 1811 and 1816 she wrote six novels, which would become  definitive classics:

Pug and Pugability
Pug and Pugjudice
Pugsfield Park
Pugga
Pughanger Abbey
Pugsuasion

Excerpted from Pug and Pugjudice:

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single pug in possession of a pizza crust, must be in want of a drink.

Wednesday famously suggested the real reason her sister Cassandra burned her letters from that period. “I was having an affair with Lord Byron AND his half-sister Augusta Leigh. Can you imagine what would have happened to my work if that had gotten out? No one would have ever believed my books were written by, ‘A Lady!'”

Next chapter: Wednesday conquers America.

This day in Lisa-Universe: 2013, 2012, 2011