My Andre…

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It’s been three days.

It seems like so much longer, but that’s how hard days can seem. The way they stretch and linger is painful…heart-wrenching.

He and I, we sat on the couch together three days ago. He was resting, his chest rising and falling…my hand there with every breath. In between games of Sudoku…something to keep my mind off of it all…I’d look over at him.

Feel the tears well up.

Whisper a prayer that it was all a bad dream.

Breathe into his ear how much I loved him.

Repeat.

We knew it. The vet had confirmed it just the day before, but we knew. We knew it was almost over.

Eleven years that had made up a lifetime were about to end.

It was soul-crushing, the kind that leaves a hollow, painfully deep ache.

And even in the ache, I caught myself reflecting…

Reflecting on a life together that began on a beautiful September Saturday in 2003. He bounded toward us, and I almost said no because he was bigger than the cute, wiggly, 12 week-old puppy I really wanted. But there was something about him, and we just knew.

We knew this was our puppy. And so we took this almost-five-month-old, still wiggly, ball of fur home with us and named him Andre.

He was totally an Andre…always happy, a little goofy, and perfectly sweet. We were in love immediately.

He bounded into our lives, ready to take on any adventures that might come with it. And had he known what was coming, maybe he would have turned around…but he didn’t. He stayed, he boarded planes, he crossed cultures, he welcomed more family members, he followed us wherever we went…and he lived every single day with exuberance.

Every single day for eleven plus years…and those years passed by too quickly.

And we watched the calendar pages turn, wondering where it was going. The one consolation was that he was still so much a puppy…so playful, so full of love.

And it continued until the end. Only in his last weeks did he show signs of slowing down…and that was why my hubby decided he needed to be checked out.

It didn’t take long to hear the words tumors and a week or two…and those words broke our hearts to shards. He wasn’t in any pain…but we carried that pain.

Knowing that he could slip away at any moment made it hard to even breathe.

Just 24 hours after we knew, it was time. We watched through tears as he used up the last of his love on people…that was so Andre. And then, exhausted, he found a spot in the grass to breathe in some of his last moments. We carried him to the van, and Tobin and I went.

We drove in tears, we gave final hugs, we went into the room, the three of us together for the last time.

We held him and told him, over and over, what he already knew. We loved him so much…and he had been the best dog in the world.

And my arms were wrapped around him, my hand on his heart, when he went.

The tears fell…more than I’ve ever cried, I think…as we said goodbye and forced ourselves to leave the room and find our way home…a home that will never feel the same again.

It’s three days later, and the tears still pour.

I miss my boy. I miss the way he greeted me with a smile and a butt wiggle multiple times a day. I miss the way every second was a gift worthy to be lived with exuberance. I miss the cuddles and the snuggles and the endless amounts of dog hair all over me.

I miss it all so much.

I miss him. And I will forever.

And I sometimes wonder why we chose it when we knew it would come to an end. But, really, we know the answer to that…and it’s the same answer that helps us breathe through the moments that hurt so much.

It’s Love. He lived it so well.

And so we laugh through the tears and smile and talk about the Andre stories…about the times he went swimming in places he shouldn’t have, about the time he ran into a tree, about the millions of ways he filled our lives with love.

We go on. Because the best way for us to honor his life is to live ours like he did.

Goodbye, sweet, sweet boy. You were a gift to us in ways we can’t even describe. We thought we were making your life better when we brought you home, but you were the one who made us better. Blessed us. And gave us a life full of love that will stay with us forever.

To Andre. You are forever a part of us…and forever in our hearts.

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Sig

Sometimes We Wait…

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It’s been a long time…in fact, the longest time I’ve gone without writing since I started the blog.

And probably at least twelve times in the last week…Twelve. That’s a lot. I’ve sat down and tried to write something. Anything.

You know, words.

Let’s be honest, I don’t always have something incredibly profound to share, but I usually have Words. Stories. A piece of the journey that has taught me something.

In all of the up and down that has been life during the last month, the one thing I never thought would disappear is the ability to write. And yet, for all of the writer’s block I had before, it’s a hundred times worse lately.

I hate that.

But I seem to always write better with coffee, so we’ll try. It’s always worth a try.

And? Well, no matter the season of life, coffee is one of those welcome constants…I always like coffee. :)

So, a few random things about life…lately…ish.

This girl…she is headed to PK4. And though she’s been four for Two. Whole. Months, I still can’t wrap my mind completely around the fact that she’ll be in school three mornings a week. Which means, pretty much, that I’m going to cry, and she’ll tell me to stop. 😉

1stDaySelfie-finalHere we are, bad lighting and all, before her Hello/Goodbye Day at school yesterday.
She is cute. And I need more sleep. 😉

I started running again. I took a necessary (but too long) hiatus, and can I just confess that even running three miles now feels a bit like torture? And not just physical, either. Honestly, I spent so many miles on the familiar, close-to-our-house, bike path…while I was pregnant. And during those miles, I talked to God, I praised Him, I sang along with my playlist, and I dreamed dreams for our new little one.

And so going out on that bike path now is just raw pain. I’m choosing to face the pain because I need to…I need to go there and move past it. Because there are certain realities…like the fact that our house is less than 100 yards from the path. Even if I never go back to the path, it’s still going to be there.

It’s my next step forward.

And people still ask…how are you?

And if I’m in a blunt mood, I’ll probably tell you how much I dislike that question before I say anything else because, the truth is, I don’t know how to answer it.

I always feel like people want to hear, I’m great! Or, even just good.

The truth? Is that I ache and cry far more than I want to. I’ve gone exactly one day without crying in a month. One. I don’t even remember what day that was…I just remember that it happened. And thought it sounds a bit crazy…that one day out of 31 gives me Hope.

I need Hope. Lots of it.

And maybe, right now, that Hope comes in different ways. Small ways. Through coffee with friends and heart chats, through park adventures with my girl and a late-night Google hangout with a sister.

God gave me a word last spring as we flew over oceans and crossed cultures, and even in a moment of uncertainty and even fear, I knew that He was telling me that my purpose was to share my Journey.

I had no idea that this…loss…was supposed to be part of that journey. I didn’t want it to be.

But I think I forget sometimes that the journey twists and turns. We can’t always see what’s next.

And there are other times when the journey seems to stop. It doesn’t, really…but He does ask us to wait. Trust. Breathe…knowing that He has us where we’re supposed to be.

And that’s where life is right now.

There are blessings…and I’ve tried to be intentional about seeing them. Counting them. Giving thanks for each time a smile comes.

And there are hard moments, too…and rather than throwing them away, I try to remember His promises. We know JOY comes in the morning.

And so we wait for it.

And we find reasons to smile along the way, too. :)

Photo Credit: Motiqua

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Five-Minute Friday: Begin

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Today I’m linking up with Lisa-Jo for Five-Minute Friday. So, grab a timer, set it for five minutes, and join me!

The rules: Write for five minutes. No editing, revising, overthinking, or backtracking. Just write. Then leave some comment love for the person who linked up before you…and anyone else because that’s the fun and the heart of the community! And this is the last week Five-Minute Friday will be hosted by Lisa-Jo…next week begins a new era and a new host.

Today’s prompt: Begin

Begin, begin. Where?

My heart isn’t even sure I have the words to begin again, not after the week and a few days we’ve had. Loss, heartbreak, so many tears…I feel like I’ve lost who I am…and my words…in all of it.

I know this is how it is, this grief thing. That when there’s a loss, it takes time. It takes a lot of tissues. And then it takes more time, even.

And then, maybe, there’s a whisper in my soul that says it’s ok. To laugh through the tears. To smile when it hurts. To find the joy, even when there’s pain.

It’s how to begin again…this life. The kind of beginning that says We love you so much, sweet baby. And now we begin this journey of forever missing you.

And we can only pray that there’s something beautiful, something that will always whisper of His promise that He makes all things beautiful in His time.

Not ours. His.

And so we trust that there will be beauty here. Somehow.

And until then, we lean on Him to make the ache just a little less.

And we breathe deeply and begin another day.

Because He’s Good.

Still.

Five Minute Friday

Sig

He Gives…and He Takes Away

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I’m not sure how to write these words. I don’t really want to, either…the past few days feel like they haven’t been real. But He keeps reminding me that the journey isn’t always an easy one, and some days there is heartache. The kind that physically hurts.

And so I share it because, now, this heartache is part of our story, too.

I’m no stranger to one line.

One single line, the kind on a test designed to show you two. Or a plus sign. Or something more than just one line.

And it’s not a secret that pregnancy has been a struggle for us. Years of trying, failing, and loss finally gave us the most precious gift in the world. A daughter. My sweet, heart-forever girl, Mae.

And we wanted more. We knew it would be hard, and it was.

So on that morning a few weeks ago, the one when the all-too-familiar, one-line was actually a plus sign, the tears of joy dripped.

Mae was going to be a big sister.

We were cautious. We knew the risks. I told a small handful of people because, well because I honestly am a horrible secret-keeper. But there’s also power when there are people praying.

In the waiting, I tried to live life well. In between the headaches and tiredness, life was good. I kept up with running and (mostly) kept up with Mae.

We were excited.

And that’s why I didn’t see Monday night coming at all.

I noticed a couple of spots, but they were light brown and small. And? I felt fine. So I went for my evening run with some friends, came home, and…oh. A few more spots. Still brown.

I said a prayer and went to bed. Everything seemed fine on Tuesday morning. I took it easy, skipped my run, caught up on a few things.

And then I went to the bathroom, and I screamed for Mae to grab my phone. T was home from work in 40 minutes, and we were on our way to the ER with a quick stop to leave Mae with a friend. I barely got through the door before the tears started to fall, and in broken sobs, I told the woman at the desk what was happening.

She got me in to see a doctor, but by then it was too late. We knew. Four hours of pokes and prods and tests only revealed what our hearts already knew.

Our baby was gone.

We held each other and cried. And then we went home and tried to breathe.

And breathing is where we are now.

There are moments when the pain is intense and there’s no way the tears can be stopped.

Other moments, I can laugh. It feels almost wrong…but maybe that’s God’s gift in the form of a four year-old girl who walks the line of silly and sweet. She doesn’t understand, and maybe we need that right now.

Sometimes I feel numb…that this isn’t me. Us. That we’re not walking this road again.

But for whatever reason…one that I may never understand…we are here.

Heartbroken but not without Hope. Devastated but clinging to Him. Trying to take the next step forward without crumbling.

The Lord gave…

He did. And though the tears slip, I still find a little smile when I look at the one pregnant belly picture I took. Really, it looks like I ate too much cake the night before (and I probably did) but that picture is a cherished memory of our sweet one. A sweet, sad smile comes when I remember whispered celebrations and squeals and hugs with a few close friends, even a few hush-hush conversations when no one else was around. I’m thankful I got to celebrate this precious life.

and He also took away.

We will miss this sweet one for the rest of our lives. The ache for Heaven seems so much more intense today than it did a few days ago. I keep wishing we could go back and that there was something we could do to change things, but there isn’t. And so we go on.

And we choose to bless His Name anyway.

We love you, sweet baby S…we couldn’t wait to meet you. And now, instead, our hearts ache for the day when we will hold you. We’ll have a lifetime of cuddles to make up for.

Photo Credit: Lennart Tange

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