Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Begining of the End

I cried myself to sleep five nights in a row. Actually, I spent those five days on the verge of tears all the time – at home, on the phone, at the computer, in the store. I felt as though there was nowhere I could go to escape my tears. They followed me everywhere: to the kitchen, in the shower, to the closet, on the toilet. I couldn't outrun them, bargain with them or hide from them. I knew I was crying so much because it was the middle of November, and I couldn't stand the thought of spending the holidays without Molly. But mostly, I cried because my heart was still broken.

Just after the Fourth of July, my husband, Mike, and I lost Molly to kidney disease. We didn’t just lose her; we had to make the heart-wrenching decision to end her life. You see, she was our dog, but she was much more than just our dog: she was a cherub.

Molly was a chubby, almost eight-year-old Boston Terrier. Funny and hardheaded, she was truly the sweetest creature I had ever met. My mom nicknamed her Ms. Molly Perfect and she was perfect in that imperfect way. She loved hotdogs, stuffed animal toys, kitty cats, apple orchards, grasshoppers, farmers, men, sleeping in the sun, and so many other things that I took for granted.

She also loved to play hide and seek. You’d be outside with her and one minute she’d be standing next to you and the next minute she’d be gone. She was usually in the neighbor’s yard or just on the other side of the bushes; you couldn’t see her, but believe me she always had her eye on you.
Going for walks with Molly was one of my favorite things—even if it meant walking much further than I wanted to, freezing because she wouldn’t turn around, or being exhausted when we got home because I had to carry her the last half-mile. Like me, Molly loved walks. During our morning outings, she would absolutely refuse to go home. Walks had to include a loop or a turn that would allow us to begin the long journey home. The only problem with this was that after Molly walked a route a couple of times, she knew that the turn or the loop meant we were headed back home, so she would put the breaks on and sit on the ground with her hip stuck out, smiling with her tongue dangling as if to say, “I’m not ready to go back home and you can’t make me. There’s no way you can carry me back home from here, so let’s just keep going.”

And keep going we would.

Finally, I gave up trying to make her turn around or planning long, labyrinth routes. We would walk and walk and walk until she was tired, and then I would call Mike to come pick us up. Fortunately, we lived only a few minutes from Mike’s work so he could swing by, pick us up, and take us home. We affectionately referred to this morning routine as “calling for a pick-up.”

During the spring of 2009, life was perfect. In June, Mike and I returned from our dream vacation of riding the rails in Europe like a couple of college kids. We got lost in Lisbon, startled during our train ride from Barcelona to Madrid when the Spanish police busted into Mike’s cabin at midnight and arrested two of his roommates, accused of stealing a lemon from a lemon farm, met friendly locals, ate amazing food, and hiked in bluffs by the Italian coast. For us, it was everything we’d dreamed about for a decade.

During this time, Molly stayed with my parents, yes, Grandma and Grandpa, and while they swore there was no consumption of ice cream, hotdogs or eggs, there’s one thing you should know about my parents: they lie.

My mother’s favorite line when Molly stayed with them was, “What happens in the kitchen stays in the kitchen.”

I had never been happier. Everything was perfect. My life was exactly what I’d always wanted it to be. Of course that’s usually when the bottom falls out.

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