the printed thoughts of a woman on a journey towards awareness, truth, acceptance, clarity, and forgiveness...with some fun and fearlessness thrown in

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

stumbling towards the inevitable

It's been a hard week in many ways.  On Saturday, I drove home from a hair appointment through flooded roads, heavy rain, and booming thunder.  Minutes after I got home, a huge crack of lightning lit of the sky just outside my kitchen window.  I later figured out that many of our circuit breakers had been tripped, the air conditioning was off, and several appliances weren't working.  After visits by the cable company, the electric company, and the gas company (did I mention the strong smell of gas in the house?), it was determined that we most likely had a near lightning strike that had traveled into the house through either the phone lines or the plumbing.  Just about every piece of electronic equipment that was plugged in was fried.  The TV's, the cordless phones, an Xbox, phone chargers, the digital display on the refrigerator, the treadmill, every fluorescent light, and the circuit board that runs the air conditioner were all casualties.  I've suffered through the heat of August in south Louisiana, watched water pour out of a light fixture in the ceiling, and probably swallowed countless lovebugs in my sleep.  But, none of that compares to the pain I've felt since 6:00 this morning.

Brandi with her new red boots.
That's when I found Brandi lying crumpled in a heap on the kitchen floor.  Her neck was pulled hard to the left, and her legs were rigid.  She was clearly attempting to get to the backdoor to go to the bathroom, because she had also lost control of her bowels.  I picked her up, and the stiffness of her body was jarring.  I put her outside on the concrete, where she would normally take a minute to get her legs under her and walk off to the grass.  Instead, she collapsed onto the cement in the same posture in which I had found her.  I left her for a minute while I cleaned up the floor, and I went outside to find that she had urinated on herself, leaving a large puddle that was slowly spreading.  I washed her up and brought her back inside, laid her on her bed, and started crying.
Caught red-handed after digging a hole under the deck.
It's not like I haven't been thinking about this moment for a while now.  It's just that no amount of thinking about it can ever really prepare you for the reality of the situation.  Rational thought has no place in a decision of the heart, and at the very moment I felt my heart break.  Yes, I could point to all of the deficits that Brandi has experienced over the last year, I could recall all of the times she has struggled with bowel control, I could remember when she needed to sleep with diapers on, and I could list the measures that I had gone through to get her to eat.  But, none of those things could make me forget the years that I've known her to be a strong, muscular, vibrant dog.  She may not look the same on the outside, but on the inside, she is as strong-willed and stubborn as ever.

My sleeping beauty.
I won't go through the ups and downs of the emotional roller coaster ride that I've been on today.  Suffice to say, the universe has granted me a little more time with Brandi.  Though she is still weak and uncoordinated, she did manage to hold it all day and (with assistance to remain upright) went to the bathroom in the grass when I got home.  She has allowed me the rarest pleasure of holding her without a struggle.  She slept through a toenail trim and helped me finish my dinner.  She even walked on her own during her final trip outside for the night.  She's back on her bed and tucked in for the night.

I've come to terms with the decision, though--as much as you can ever come to terms with something like that.  I don't know exactly when it will happen, but I trust that it will happen when it's supposed to.  Apparently, I still have some lessons to learn from Brandi.

Brandi loves going to the park.

Update: Brandi made it clear to me the day after posting this entry that she could no longer fight against the ravages of time and the weakness of her body.  At around 4:00pm on Thursday, August 23, 2012, I was at her side when she left her physical vessel.  As a testament to the kind of dog she was and the effect that she had on people, the veterinarian was crying as she administered the injection and hugged me tightly afterward.  I will forever be grateful that Brandi came into my life and was with me for her final years.  I miss her strong personality and her sweet face.  I miss her gentle, sideways kisses and her less-than-subtle begging.  I miss Brandi and everything about her, and I will never forget her.

Monday, August 6, 2012

no going back now

I recently made my fourth long distance move in just over 11 years.  You would think that I would have a whole lot more confidence about starting over personally and professionally than I do.  Maybe I've become more realistic as I've aged, but the truth is that I have become more worried and more insecure with each move.  This move may be the toughest for that reason, and being here alone for most of the first five months didn't made it any easier.  Let's just say that I have decided that I'm getting too old for this stuff.

It still amazes me to think back about my first big move.  It really was the biggest one, and it stands out as one of the most important decisions that I have ever made--even if it was made rather impulsively.  I was 29-years old and recently divorced (a divorce that lasted longer than the oh-so-wrong marriage), on the verge of bankruptcy, experiencing medical problems, and wanting to literally run away from a magnetically toxic ex-boyfriend.  When my friend in NC mentioned wanting to move to Knoxville or Chattanooga, I impulsively said, "If you go to Chattanooga, I'll move with you."  Before I could come up with an excuse for my verbal diarrhea, she was finding us a place to live and I had contacted a realtor to sell my house. 

Besides my sister and my two precious nephews, the only real reason I could find to stay in Ft. Wayne was my job.  After years spent drifting from job to job, being unhappy, depressed, and restless, I had found something that I was not only good at but that I loved doing.  I was doing outreach and education for the local rape awareness program.  I had some amazing co-workers, and I felt like I was making a real difference in the lives of young people.  It was so illogical for me to leave the job, but I knew that I had to follow my heart, even if I didn't know exactly where it would lead me.

So, I gave 5 weeks notice, sent out resumes, and moved from Indiana to Chattanooga over three weekends in October.  I remember being so excited about the change of scenery.  The plan was certainly not without its obstacles, and I found myself moving from the first house there into a second within weeks, starting a new job in November only to lose it in January when the business shut down, in the middle of a colossal fight with my friend/roommate by February, virtually homeless by March, and served with legal papers in April.  In the midst of this chaos, though, I met Mitchell.

It really is a miracle that our relationship survived all of the drama surrounding it from the start.  In addition to the fact that he thought I was a lesbian when he met me, I had to be the least attractive choice for him.  My roommate did everything in her power to drive him away, including calling the police to his mother's house when I didn't come home one night.  I had a houseful of animals to which he was deathly allergic.  I was recently divorced, had family issues, was financially strapped, and friendless.  I don't know what he saw in me, but I'm glad that he did, and it all worked out in the end.

So, here I am back in Louisiana, but now as an adult, trying to re-establish myself yet again.  When I started this entry, I was still looking for a job, living on my own and not knowing when Mitchell would be joining me, and feeling lonely and depressed.  I've been at my job at the local rape crisis center for over three months now, and I feel amazingly more optimistic and confident.  I've become actively involved in the very busy and never-ending work of animal rescue in and around my community.  I've reunited with childhood friends, and I've been able to see my sister fairly regularly.

It's hard not to wonder, though, where I will be in a year, in three years, or in five years.  I've spent so long living my life knowing that my location was temporary that I've become accustomed to thinking of my life in terms of "what if" and "when x happens, then y is possible."  I'm still thinking that way to some degree, because I would like to return to school and pursue a career in counseling in the future, but I'm much more focused on putting down roots, creating community, establishing patterns, and finding favorite spots.

I'm ready to settle in, to make this place my home, to get comfortable.  And, I'm more than ready to do so with my partner, who has only been "officially" living in Louisiana for about a month.  We survived my roommate from Hell.  We overcame his allergies.  We have rebuilt credit and bank accounts.  We have bought and sold houses, moved from state to state (to state to state), and packed and unpacked many times over.  We're best friends, and we made our relationship legal after 10 years together.  We have worked hard to get where we are and will work hard to get where we want to be always.

I live in Louisiana now, and I'm here to stay...or, at least that's the plan.