Saturday, January 12, 2013

The longest week (or two) of my life

Four year ago when I adopted Joy at age 11
When I turned off the computer two weeks ago on Saturday night, December 29, I went upstairs and discovered that my little bichon was dead. She was 15 years old, and her health had been deteriorating for the past few months. She was going blind, and her arthritis was getting so bad that I was thinking about calling the vet to see if there was another medication that might help her more than the one she was currently taking. There was an obvious correlation between her ability to get around and her appetite. If she wasn't feeling good enough to walk around, she also wouldn't eat, even if I put food right in front of her. Still, I didn't expect her to be gone so suddenly.

On the afternoon of New Year's Eve, I was furiously working towards my goal of completing 50,000 words on my goat book so that I could celebrate a quiet evening at home with Mike. At 5:00, however, everything changed. My sister-in-law called to say that my mother-in-law had "taken a turn for the worse." She had been diagnosed with lung cancer in the summer, but when we had seen her on Christmas Day, she seemed fine. She was eating well, joking, and playing cards with the family. I found Mike outside and told him we needed to head over to his mother's house as soon as he finished the evening chores. It was the last time I would look at my manuscript for eight days.

We finished up everything at home, got in the car and headed over to her house. My sister-in-law was there, making phone calls to relatives when we arrived at eight o'clock. We hadn't eaten dinner, so we brought some cold meatloaf with us and put it in the kitchen. As soon as I saw my mother-in-law, something in my head said that she would never see 2013. I don't know if she ever knew we were there, but Mike held his mother's hand for the last two hours of her life.

The next six days were spent driving back and forth from home to the Peoria area to help with funeral plans and be with family members as they flew in from across the country and around the world. It was the most beautiful celebration of her life as we all scoured dozens of scrapbooks that chronicled all of her travels and volunteer work. She and her husband, who is now in the final stages of Alzheimer's, had traveled to 44 countries, some for fun and some to do volunteer work, like their trip to Haiti as support staff for doctors who were caring for the people there. Over and over, the words, "a life well lived" kept going through my head.

And every night, as we drove home and I walked into my bedroom, I kept expecting my little Joy to greet me, hobbling across the floor with tail wagging. And then I'd remember that she was gone.

Luckily, my two youngest children were on break from college, so they were able to run the farm when Mike and I were absent. Still, it made me think about what would happen in a similar situation when all of our children have careers of their own in a few years. But I know we can't live our lives based on "what if."

In the midst of all this, my son's car broke down and had to be towed, which was followed by a $600 repair bill. And he and I just got home from a three-day conference. We've also had to get ready for goat kidding to begin. Trips to Memphis and Dallas to do TV shows promoting Ecothrifty had to be canceled. Memphis is rescheduled for March, but I haven't rescheduled Dallas yet. And the elephant in the room, which no one really wanted to discuss, was the fact that Mike's father will probably not be with us much longer either. So I feel like I'm in the middle of a huge life lesson on acceptance and patience.


Mary Ann said...

We lost our youngest dog unexpectedly on Christmas Eve, it was a blow. A sudden death, unavoidable, and entirely natural... and lost my sister at Memorial Day, so I know the feeling of being overwhelmed. I'm praying for your family now, daily, and that your father in law has a peaceful passing.

Jessica @Blessings in the Country said...

That is a lot to go through in a short time. Very sorry for your losses. Will be praying for you all.

(sorry for the double comment. Blogger is acting up for me.)

plaidshoes said...

I am so sorry for your losses. I hope the new year brings you all health, happiness, and sturdy cars.

Velva said...

May the weeks and months ahead be filled with peace, family and laughter.

It has definitely been a tough period for you.


Michelle said...

Hugs to all of you, Deborah.

Debby said...

Deborah, Nothing prepares us for such a period of loss and sadness. God gives us friends and family to get through it. My thoughts and prayers are with you, Michael and your family.

Charlotte Crawley said...

I'm so glad you thought of your mother-in-law's life as a life well lived. That's the best we can hope for. Hopefully you will get some time for yourself and be able to accomplish your goals. I too had a Bicon. I found comfort in getting another dog quickly. I was just to miserable with out my little friend.

Erika said...

My heart goes out to you, and I am so sad for your sudden and tragic losses. You are truly in my thoughts and prayers as you navigate through these days of sorrow. Yet God is good and always there to comfort us when the world cannot. I wish I could have met your delightful parents. Erika

Spinners End Farm said...

Oh is hard to have so much happen all at once. The rhythm of a farm continues though and hopefully that can give you some additional solace. Our thoughts are with you.

Lisa said...

Why does it sometimes seem like 'when it rains, it pours'. I lost my mother in Oct. Seemed 'sudden' though she'd been sick for a time. That began the spiral of one 'big' thing after another here too. Through it all, could somehow see God's hand in every way, even though this 'life' stuff is really hard. My condolences to you and your family.


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