I make myself coffee, and start my day, and fill each moment with things I love - cooking, dancing, coaching, creating - so that I don't think so much about the things I have lost. But at the end of the day, when the house is quiet, and I'm turning off all the lights, the vacancy on my red couch is a stark reminder that our life has changed. And we're all sad about it.
Filling the void with another dog is not currently an option, although it has been suggested to us by many people. It's him that we want. It's Forrest that I want to be snuggling on the couch with right now, on this cold rainy East Bay day. I want to smell his Frito feet, and stroke my fingers through his lion's mane. I want to trace the markings of fur on the top of his head in a circular motion, while he fades in and out of sleep. No other dog cuddles with me like he did. He just fit our life so well, that sometimes I wonder if we'll ever find that again, or if we even want to try.
It's been 3 months since we surrounded him in our living room, told him how much we loved him, petted him as he drifted into a deep sleep, draped ourselves over him after he took his final breath, carried him into the nurse's car, and then watched him through the waterfalls of our eyes as he literally rode off into the sunset.
Since then, we've celebrated Christmas in Arizona. We've celebrated Paloma's 7th birthday. We've celebrated Solon's 40th birthday. We've been rehearsing for the kids' annual musical revue at school every weekend. We've started Spring baseball and softball - life has continued to move along. Amidst the pain, there is great joy and love, fellowship and laughter. And then on March 3rd, we lost Gaga, Solon's great-grandmother Alice (Quincy and Paloma's great-great-grandmother), just a few months before her 95th birthday. It saddened us and shocked us when her health started to decline, because she was still driving herself around on Christmas - she had always been so strong.
There's nothing like the death of a loved one to remind you of all the others that came before, and the pain that resides with their absence, while simultaneously celebrating and cherishing every moment you had with them. That is the paradox of our life for the past 2 1/2 years.
There will come a time when this all won't hurt so much, or maybe it still will, but what I am trying to teach our kids is that life is about living with the beauty and the sorrow. Where there is light, there must be dark, where there is day, there must be night - and it's impossible to just live within one part of it. We have to navigate through it all. And sure, I may feel things more than the average person may want to admit for themselves, but I have a feeling my kids will take after me in that regard, and I need to set the example for them on how to process it all in the most authentic, truthful way I can. It is a life lesson that I want to make sure I get right.
* * * * *
We spent 5 days over President's weekend in San Antonio, Texas with family to celebrate Solon's 40th Birthday. I found us a great ranch house property on VRBO that could sleep 22 people comfortably. It had a huge covered patio, basketball court, volleyball net, bonfire pit, and a small lake with a pier that you could fish off of. It was located about 25 minutes south of downtown San Antonio, and it met all our basic needs. It was so great to spend time with each other in a way that we hadn't all done together before. It was an adventure filled with copious pots of coffee, meals around the giant kitchen table, too many Scrabble games to count, hearty laughs, sweet Tres Leches cake, and some gourmet Texas BBQ prepared by our resident chefs, Chad and Holly. I found a photographer through Facebook 6 months before our trip who I hired to take some family photos of our group, and by the time we met in person, I felt like he was an old friend already! He took some spectacular pictures that we will treasure. Thank you Tim!
The weekend involved exploring San Antonio's Riverwalk, visiting the Alamo and the Natural Bridge Caverns, fishing and watching Black Panther!
We toasted Solon, showered him with verbal affections and I had this slideshow prepared for him:
It was a memorable weekend and I can't wait to rent that house again in the near future with another large group!
For the remainder of the Spring, I am looking forward to the many weekends of baseball/softball that lie ahead, the kids' 50th Annual Beach Revue performance next weekend, and celebrating our 13th wedding anniversary. These events turn into beautiful memories that continue to carry us on...
In Loving Memory of our "Gaga", Alice
June 26, 1923 - March 3, 2018