My Andre…

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.


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.



For a Season

I watched the two of them walk ahead of me for the almost-two-block distance to our house.

For the last time.

Hands clasped, any passerby would have believed they’d been friends for so much longer than a month.

And I thought back for a few moments…

It was a normal, early-June day, and a girl from the neighborhood, one I’d seen a few times, rode her bike down our sidewalk. My four-year-old was playing on her swing set, and I watched as the girl slowed her bike and came to a stop.

That was the only invitation my Mae needed.

Running over to her, she greeted her already-friend, and the two of them were playing together in seconds.

A few weeks later, her mom stopped by and chatted with me. Though I’d talked with her a handful of times in our four years on Wisconsin Street, this was the first time we’d talked in depth.

And it was in that conversation she mentioned she and her daughter were moving several states away at the end of July.

My heart felt a little pinch as I realized this new friendship for my daughter (and for me) was only for a short season.

And I realized that there have been times in life when I’ve questioned the seasons God gives us.


Today I’m over at God-sized Dreams, talking about the seasons He gives…and how He’s teaching me to trust that they are good. Join me?



On Friendship and Celebrating

A story:
to preface the celebration. :)

Four years ago, we moved here to this strange land. Ok, ok…it was strange then. Now it’s pretty normal.

Well, as normal as Illinois can be. 😉

And it might be safe to say that I didn’t want to be here at all. I had to be, but I sure wasn’t choosing it, and I sure didn’t have a happy heart about it either.

The first few weeks were a blur, thanks to the teeny-tiny baby we had at the time. I rarely left the house except to go to Target. And Starbucks…I did find my way there a few times, too. Because, um, sleep deprivation. Yes, it must be countered with multiple shots of espresso.

Our neighborhood remained a mystery. We had a cute, blue house on the corner, but we didn’t know the people who lived near us. And during those weeks, I was more than ok with that.

Until. The night. When my husband forced me to walk across the street.

A neighbor had stopped by, one he had already met, to drop off a note for me. It was a sweet, welcome-to-the-neighborhood/would-you-like-to-come-to-Bible-study, letter from a woman across the street.

I smiled and went back to feeding Maelie…and sort of forgot about it.

But Tobin didn’t, and he made sure that we ALL marched across the street to say hello, meet her and her family, and give me a chance to accept her invitation.

My heart might not have been happy…but by then I was warming up to the idea of life here. I kind of had to.

And that night, I met Kris. From our first conversation (which lasted well over an hour) I knew we were going to be friends and not just neighbors. I saw the way she looked at my daughter, the way she genuinely wanted to know about us and our crazy lives…and when she offered me a ride the next morning and then went out of her way after Bible study to show me around town (I really hadn’t been out…) I found myself breathing thanks that, maybe, I finally had a friend.

And over the weeks that turned into months and then years, a friendship grew. It started off with little visits across the street and chats after Bible study. Then it turned into double dates and coffee dates and sometimes just chats on a porch…hers or mine.

A friend in Minnesota had told me, before we moved, that she was specifically praying that God would give me a good friend. I saw the answer to her prayer in Kris.

And in the past four years, it’s been such a sweet friendship. There have been ups and downs…for both of us. We’ve walked and prayed each other through some hard days…and we’ve celebrated a lot, too.

And today…well, it’s a celebration. A BIG one…the kind that starts with a 5 and ends with a 0.


Today my beautiful friend turns 50…and though she might kill me (but only just a little…) for this, I think she deserves to be celebrated. She’s pretty fantastic…and she’s been a gift to me and my family…and a lot of other people, too.

She’s been such a big part of why we call this place home. And why we’re happy to call it that.

The happiest of birthdays to you, sweet friend.

Fifty looks pretty amazing on you.


Finding My Song Again

My heart pounded a little as I walked into the music room that Wednesday night, and there was really no reason for it. I mean, these were my friends, and singing with them was definitely nothing new or scary.

The normal, pre-practice chatter happened, and that was good, but then the singing started and it was a good thing that we were all sitting in a row and I was on the end because I couldn’t believe how fast the tears sprang to my eyes.

I made myself hold them back and sing the words, but it was hard, and I wondered that night if maybe…this season was over.

And I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around it because how does a season that has lasted 36 years just end like that?

How could a single event take such a big piece of me?

I thought it over during the next days as I half-dreaded Sunday morning. I didn’t want to say to anyone, I haven’t sung since before…

The truth is that in my mind, life is defined right now in two ways…Before. and After.

It’s not a conscious choice…it’s just how my brain thinks right now. :)

Certain things bring pain, and I’ve had to find where to draw the line so I can avoid what I need to…I’m not necessarily avoiding everything that’s difficult, but I’m not just throwing myself into all-things-painful, either. Does that make sense? 

I know it sounds crazy, but the night I started spotting, I was wearing this silly, sweet tank top with a giraffe on it. I haven’t worn it since. I can’t.

I also rarely go to Target. It’s too painful, especially walking by the baby section, which is much-too-conveniently located, smack dab, in the middle of the store. Our bank account is doing better thanks to this, but my heart aches over it. I’ve been back twice…once with a friend, once with my hubby. I didn’t make them hold my hand, but I was close. 😉

Same with Chipotle…which I craved up and down during those weeks. I just can’t go.

And there are other things that make the list, too…like the book I was reading that I haven’t picked up again, the song Blessings…and the list can go on and on.

And Sunday morning came because that’s just what happens when days pass…and while I was ok, I couldn’t fight back the tears as I walked into church, wondering what I was even doing.

I really felt like my song was gone. Maybe forever.

And even as I picked up a microphone for the first time in weeks, I had the sudden urge to run…I seem to be good at that, and it was what felt right at the moment, but I stayed.

And I sang.

And while it was no big deal, really, the morning was a scream of Hope that my heart desperately needed.

I needed to know that my song was still there. Somewhere.

And it was. IS.

He’s finding my song for me again.

He’s healing my heart, one little piece at a time.

He’s Good…and I’m so thankful.