Our Family

Our Family
Our Family: Pops, Me, The Teenager, The Boy, The Freckle Faced Ninja, Miss Priss, Miss Sassy Pants, Madi-Lou-Who, & Dora the Explorer

Friday, November 11, 2011

Cats and Dogs

OK all you doggy types, I am a confirmed cat person.  Always have been.  I don't like slobbery, high maintenance, fur-shedding types.  Love to pet other people's doggies, just never wanted my own.  Cats are low maintenance, fun for the whole family!  Cat box, spot of sunshine, a bowl of food and you're good to go.  Got a flashlight or laser pointer and the cat is fun for the whole family (they will chase that dot for days without figuring out it's not really there).  We had a cat, who each time the toilet flushed, would rush to the bathrooms, put her front paws on the seat and watch the swirling vortex of fun!  

So for years I have fought the family requests from Tony and Gabby, then the littles when they came along, for a dog.  "No, we don't have a fenced yard."  "No we're gone too much."  I knew I was fighting a losing battle when I stopped working.  Home all day.  Uh oh!  

When Tony said, "Look, dog adoptions.  Let's stop in just to 'pet the puppies'."  Right!  The second time we did that, we came home with one.  Surprise, surprise!

Gideon became a part of our family.  And yes we voted on names.  Thankfully "Sharky" didn't win.  Much to certain people's disappointment, neither did "Methuselah" though!   He weighed about 5 pounds and as Tony put it, we don't need a fenced yard for a 5 pound puppy who's ears are too big for his head (little Skippy Jon Jones is what we should have named him!) and can barely make it up and down the porch steps to go potty!  The kids loved the idea that they had adopted him just like we adopted them.  They wondered if he missed his old family and promised to be a good family for him.

From the beginning I was adamant that he belonged in the kitchen (picture Lady and the Tramp), yet on the first night I couldn't look at those little puppy eyes and leave him alone all night!  So off to sleep with us he went.  I actually gloated to Tony if he chose to sleep with me, not him (he did the same thing!).  He'd curl up in this little ball in my underarm and shiver until he got warm.  I took him everywhere I went and called him "my baby".  OK, I was pretty smitten with the little guy!  

That was our first clue some thing wasn't right.  Constant shivering.  He never seemed healthy.  Slept too much, ate too little, too little muscle tone.  After our second vet visit with weird symptoms, we got an antibiotic and anti-inflammatory for fever.  Unfortunately that's how we discovered he had something called "liver shunt".  

He began hallucinating then had a seizure.  Of course these things don't happen in the middle of the day on a Tuesday so we rushed him to a middle of the night vet clinic ($$$$$).  Turns out his liver wasn't working so he was not getting rid of toxins from his shots, meds, etc.  So here I am with a puppy I didn't want, crying in the vet office because to fix this he's gonna need an expensive surgery, IF they can fix it.  So I take him home so we can figure out what's going on.  As soon as the meds they gave him wore off, he started seizing again.  For 12 hours we watched him in constant seizures.  Total agony!

We kept him hidden from the kids so they didn't see what he looked like.  I cried like a baby to both mine and Tony's mom's.  I cried out to God.  How could he let our kids, who had lost so much, suffer more?  This puppy was supposed to be a bonding experience, not a painful one!  I prayed, please Lord don't do this to them!  

What I really was praying was don't do this to me.  Don't take away this precious little joy.  All I could see was what Gideon meant to me and to my family.  

By the end of the day we realized that he was not going to get better and would not survive a surgery.  We had to put him to sleep. We returned to the vet hospital.  It was the most peaceful thing I've ever seen.  He finally calmed and then just fell asleep.  The sweet people at the vet office made us a foot print to keep.  They even carried him to the car for us and called our regular vet who sent us a card.  Wonder if medical doctors act that way ever.

I cried buckets that day and the next.  No matter what I told God about my kids, I was crying for MY lost joy.  Now my prayer was "How could you do this Lord?  He was just a baby!  And we loved him!"  I felt a bit lost in a fog of misunderstanding.  

Gideon's main position...
sleeping on the couch!
Tony and Will went out and spent their grief digging a hole for us to bury him in.  I helped the girls draw pictures for Gideon and held Gabby while she tried to hide her tears.  All the while asking God, "Why?"  Lydia was darn near inconsolable and Madi still thinks Heaven is the white box we brought Gideon home in.  

After we buried him Tony carried, a manly trying to hide his tears, Will and I carried a sobbing Lydia back to the house.  Halfway there Lydia says, "I miss Gideon.  And I miss my old mom and dad."  Ahhh.  The fog began to lift.  I don't believe God reaches His finger down and taps us on the head and says, "This bad thing is going to happen to you now."  Instead, I think he knows the bad things that are coming and He has His reasons that we cannot fathom for allowing certain ones into our lives while He prevents others that don't serve His purposes.  Because its his purpose that all of this is for.

I felt Him telling me, "Here it is.  Here's the reason.  They need to mourn.  To miss.  To understand."  

My children have all lost something, to differing degrees.  For Madi, there is no conscious thought of this yet.  But Gabby, although there is no memory of her birth family, there is the thought of this connection that she cannot touch.  Cannot explore.   Is just beginning to understand.  For Will and Lydia, it's much more present.  Their old family is present in their thoughts at all times.  Their foster family was their "mom and dad" for almost 2 years of their short lives.  

A child's identity is completely wrapped up in who their parents are.  Were.  Confusion there!  They've had 3 distinctly different sets of parents plus 2 sets of grandparents raising them at different times.  And as they attached to one, it was taken away.  Attached to another, taken away.  They have lost, and lost painfully.  Against their will.  Against their desires.  Multiple times.  For them to understand at this point is almost impossible.  But they must continue to mourn and know that mourning is OK.   

Think of a time you were burned by a bad relationship, whether friendship or dating or spouse.  Were you not gun shy the next time?  More hesitant?  The worse the hurt or betrayal, the more hesitation in the future.  For our kids to bond to us, they have to feel so safe and secure that we will never leave them.   They have to believe we are a "forever family".  Second verse, same as the first...they've heard that line before.  And those people are gone.  Not allowed in their life.   
Gabby comforting an
inconsolable Lydia

So, OK God, I get it.  This was an important experience for them.  I cannot heal them.  Time cannot heal them but will bring understanding.  Hopefully one day Madi will realize Heaven isn't a white box buried in the backyard.  All for of them will begin to understand the why of loss and death.  This is something they will always know as a part of them.  If we help don't mourn the loss, it's as if we're saying it didn't happen, wasn't important.

But how do you help someone deal with a loss that, while painful, was for the best?   A loss that is so connected to who think they are.  

This whole experience was one I wish I didn't have.  Yet there's a part of me that knows it was a beautiful thing.  We got such extreme joy out of loving Gideon.  And God gave me such insight into the hearts of my children the day he died.  It's been over a month and sometimes I still expect to see him curled up on the couch.  The kids talk about him less but still say they miss him on occasion.  

Tony asked me one day, if I had to do it over again, would I still get him if I knew then what I know now.  Yes.  No question.  Because as hard as that time was, the joy I remember and the insight gained, far outweighs the cost.  And seeing my kids reaching for us to soothe their hurt hearts, gives me renewed hope for our bonding as a family.  And a seed of hope is all it takes to keep going.  

1 comment:

  1. You and your beautiful family are amazing. Way to keep the lesson and not begrudge it. Love you. Mom