look what the cat dragged in (welcome back, death & moving)

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Well, well, well……look who finally decided to write again (over three months later.)

My absence is well-founded, I promise. As I shared in the previous post, we traded coasts and in the last three months we packed up our family home, said goodbye to loved ones, and set off for the country.

So much has happened and while I desire to chronicle it in sufficient detail, my sad excuse for a nightstand journal (and Instagram) will have to do. Without sharing every single moment and emotion, I’ll say that it’s been a whirlwind, but a remarkable one. Change on this scale is never without heartache – the old refrain goes that when something new begins, something has to end (or something like that). It’s true, you know. We had many goodbyes to say and many memories to release from our grip. Everyone says that you’ll always have the memories but what they don’t say is that many memories are dependent on location and current circumstance. Sure, they will always live on in your mind and heart, but some things just feel more alive when you are still close to the people and places with which they occurred. Of course you always have them, but they do change. Trust me.

Leaving everything you know is really hard. And really good. There is so much to learn that you can’t possibly predict or hope for. You just let it wash over you. If you resist, the story turns contrived and fake.  I’m glad for the change and know that I will never, ever regret this adventure. All of it has taught me so much about myself and others.

I think everyone should be forced to move away at least once in their lifetime. It’s good for your soul, good for your marriage, good for your children, and good for your faith.

At least, that’s my opinion, with which I know many would disagree.

A month after we arrived on Virginia soil, our beloved dog Molly died. She had been with our family for close to 15 years and she was such a part of us. It’s funny….I never understood the emotions that people displayed, when their pets passed, until Molly left us. It hit me like a ton of bricks and I recalled a memory from my childhood that had been hidden in the recesses of my mind, for decades.

When I was about 8 (approximately the age of my middle child), I was left at the neighbors home for the afternoon. My parents came back to pick me up, both with blotchy, red faces and tear stained collars. I still remember what my mom’s skin look liked – spotted and bizarrely puffy. They had been crying. Both had just stood in the veterinarian’s office where they put down their beloved dog, Boaz. He had been with them since the beginning of their marriage, and the time had come. I remember, as a young child, thinking their response was so overly dramatic and stunning. It was a dog!

Fast forward 30 years and Sean and I (and all the girls) stood on the back of our property, as Sean dug a hole large enough for the body of our sweet, golden labrador. She was wrapped in a cream sheet, with a bandage around her leg, protecting where they had put the lethal injections. She laid there still warm and with a look of serenity. We pet her and Sean lifted her into the hole and followed with gently sprinkling dark red, Virginia soil on her body. Tears bubble just typing this. I felt ill.

My face was red, blotchy and puffy…. just like my mother’s had been, so many years ago.

It’s not just a pet. It’s a memory. It’s a season of marriage, of life. It’s gone. Just like the reality that we are no longer a “young married” couple with our sweet puppy…..we are older. She was older. We have moved on. Nothing is the same.

And it has been ridiculously embarrassing how difficult it has been to look for her (still) each day, or catch myself saving leftovers for her. She’s gone and it’s weird…. just \a reminder that live moves on. You can’t stop it or slow it. It just goes and you’re here for all of it….whether you like it or not.

We realized that not one of our girls know any life without Molly. She’s always been around and we underestimated how difficult it would be for each of them individually. One of my girls is still crying on a near daily basis – always spontaneously. Molly left a huge hole in our lives. In my effort to allow them to feel anything and everything they want to (with Type A personalities we can often not allow much time for emotion – MUST MOVE ON AND GET BACK TO NORMAL! THINGS TO DO!) I introduced them to my two favorite children’s books relating to death and mourning. Both THIS book and THIS book have touched me, are simple, and give kids space to feel very real sadness. They are good for the soul. Neither are able to be read without real tears, even two weeks after her passing. I recommend them to anyone who finds themselves in the same place we are in.

In every difficult thing, there is beautiful light, and things to be learned. Sean loves to remind us all of God’s great timing. Molly could have easily passed in Long Beach, making the transition to Virginia a little harder – never having her be a part of this great journey our family took together. No, he allowed Molly to make the trip all the way out here and enjoy the hills, land and all that our small farm offers. She spent the twilight of her life in a glorious cacophony of barking at birds and running around after small chicks as they chirped uncontrollably. She was so happy here. She had a new resurgence of energy, that undoubtedly was gifted by this unique change in atmosphere.

It was a perfect ending to the long life of a perfect pet.

4 Replies to “look what the cat dragged in (welcome back, death & moving)”

  1. I’m so glad that your cross country move has been good for your family! My family packed up and moved stakes when I was 15 and I can’t say that I would recommend it, but that could have been the age I was when we made the move (and to be honest, I had moved quite a bit before that). I still sometimes think what it would be like to pack it all up and move/have an adventure while my kids are still young, but I also kind of love that my kids have lived in the same town since birth that their dad has lived in since birth since their grandparents have lived in since birth. I didn’t have that experience, but it’s kind of fun to watch.

    And I am so sorry about Molly. I’m so glad she got to be a part of your farm memories too. That’s a special gift. It sounds like she was a really wonderful part of your family and will be missed.

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    1. Hi friend! I completely understand your concerns – we knew that we “needed” to go before K got much older (she is 10) and we also struggled with leaving the place we both grew up in. In the end, we knew God has this for us and we haven’t regretted it once!

      Thank you for your kind words about Molly. It’s so so hard.

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  2. Right there with you. I’m grieving the loss of my constant companion we had to put down on July 4th. She was a mini schnauzer and sat on my lap while I recorded podcasts, slept on my desk as I wrote, and padded along everywhere with me. The word I want to get out to anyone with a schnauzer: they must have a low or no fat diet.

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