Monday, January 6, 2014

Learning from Living

We have enjoyed our time off school work, Christmas get togethers, parties and lots of saying good bye.  We spent more time with family and got to see most of our extended family.  My dad's side didn't get together this year, so we missed them, but we saw everybody else.  Everybody was great, there was no drama for us this year.  It was awesome to leave and feel a positive connection with everybody.  It was my favorite Christmas.  It didn't leave us much time for our usual family traditions and that was fine because we know we won't be here next Christmas.  We did have a nice small Christmas with the kids getting most family gifts for the trip,  tablets to be exact to make the 45 hrs. In the car go a little more smoothly.  Anyway, it was all good but very busy with us getting our van fixed up for the trip and packing in all the spare minutes.

The kids were doing well helping and things were running pretty smoothly except our sweet little dog got sick, she was shaking and trembling a lot, so we finally took her to the vet.  He told us it was a neck injury, gave us some medicine for the inflammation and pain and said she'd be fine in 2-3 weeks. She took her medicine that first day and was doing much better, but the following day we couldn't get her to eat or take her medicine, same the next day, she seemed to need to rest a lot and I thought it was just part of her recovery.  But the reality was that she would not eat and then she stopped drinking too.  The kids also found her outside fallen in the snow being looked at by a big black dog.  They carried her in, but she was super scared.  She never complained once or made a sound.  So we don't know exactly what happened, but by the time we realized she wasn't getting better on New Year's Day when we were busy loading all the heavy stuff and our vet clinic was closed, it was too late.  We ran her over to our neighbor who is our vet, but she was already 10% dehydrated.  He also said for her to go downhill so quickly there must have been something else going on or her neck was hurt much worse than we realized.

We were getting ready to take her to the emergency animal hospital, I ran in for my coat, #1 waited with her in the car, and when I came back, she told me the little dog was gone.  She had taken one last breath, stretched out and made a sound, probably her spirit leaving her body.  We drove a little ways because her heart was still beating, but I had to accept she was gone and we returned home, wrapped her in a blanket and our friend, the vet, came and got her.  Everyone was super distraught and very very sad.  It is terrible without her.  We also gave away our cat that day so it was a very emotional sad time.  It is super weird to not have a single animal to care for.  At one point we had goats, chickens, a cat and a dog.  I thought they were kind of a pain even though the kids do most of the taking care, now I realize all that care and work is so worth it.  Those animals are our friends and they are my kids' friends. 

Some of the kids are still having a hard time with her death, so it has given us the opportunity to talk about death and the grieving process.  Life is rough, and animals just don't live as long as people.  So we just have to remember the good parts and we have to think that it was her time to go,  we needed that dog, she was there for us when my husband started his job where he had to commute a lot, she was there for my daughter when all her friends moved away and our ward was crazy and she was so vulnerable.  The dog was there for me when I sent my babies off to public school for the first time and for when I became isolated this year.  In some ways, I think the dog or The Lord knows that happier times are ahead for our whole family and that it was time for us to face the future alone without our beloved dog, especially #1 who was the main caretaker of the dog and had the closest relationship with her and will be starting full time high school in a brand new place.  So for us the New Year is a fresh start in more ways than one.  

For me, Maple was my first dog, I did not understand dogs at all, I had no idea what we were getting into, this dog was sweet and kind and gentle and good with the kids, otherwise, she wouldn't have lasted.  Now that she is gone we all realize how much she meant to us, sometimes you just don't realize it til they're gone.  It is so much of what education is, learning about life and people and how we interact and now how important animals are to us.  I think even in her death, Maple has taught us a lot and we will all be better and stronger.

Will we get more animals when we move?   I would like to, but I also plan on visiting and seeing places and doing things, so it just may have to wait.  But someday, we will get another dog, not to replace our Maple, but because we understand the value of animals and how they show us what unconditional love really is.

In the midst of all this, we are still trying to move.  I took a day to mourn and rest, and I let the kids be distracted with media, so we are behind.  It looks like that may be OK with these crazy cold temperatures.  We are going through Memphis and up the Atlantic coast so we'll miss the worst of the temperatures, but it is still abnormally cold, there isn't a lot going on on I-40 so it's probably good we're not on the road right now.  We might be able to get out today, but we'll have to see on the weather, we don't want to get stranded somewhere or have it be so cold our van won't start in the morning.  So we'll see.

Lots of changes, learning from life!


  1. So sorry about your dog. I hope your move goes smoothly for you. Wonderful adventures await...


    I just had to send you this link because Drury hotels were by far our favorite on our trip. Not only did they have free breakfast, but they also have free dinner! They call it "snacks," but it was a full-on meal, and it saved us a ton of money. And they're cheap, abut very nice. So, if you happen to find one...

    Good luck with the move, and I'm sorry about little Maple.