Grief and saying goodbye

I’ve been quiet for more then half of this year and haven’t kept up with blogging or following my goals and dreams.  I haven’t had my voice in far to long. 2016 for a lot of people has been a tough year. For me it was a year of EXTREMES. Success and failures, highs and lows. Through this year and this life I have never experienced a loss like I did in June.

For those that know me, or have been following my blog for awhile you know how important my dogs are to me. They are my family. I’ve survived a failed marriage, lost people I’ve loved that weren’t meant to stay, made it through unhealthy relationships, and had some other struggles along they way. I’ve also been blessed with incredible friendships, support of loved ones,  and gotten through challenges that have allowed growth. I’ve experienced great adventures, travelled amazing places, and am filled with gratitude for all the good that is in my life. Until I lost Roxy I hadn’t truly experienced mourning of this kind.

Roxy passed away June of 2016. She was supposed to go in for surgery to remove a large suspicious mass. Things deteriorated quickly and she wasn’t able to have the surgery. The mass had grown internally. It was cancer. It had changed so quickly that my warrior of a dog was suffering. That day has changed me forever. 

My close friend Krista gave me love and support by being at my side with my other dog Presley as we said goodbye to her. We gave her the best last day anyone could ask for. She was spoiled with burgers, ice cream and so many hugs. My friend had experienced the loss of a dog before, and I think going through it with me was really hard on her, but also offered her some healing as she didn’t have the chance to say goodbye to her dog. The support she gave me got me through that day.

 When Roxy left her body, she was in my arms, and her sister Presley by her side. For me, knowing she wasn’t present anymore but her body still physically in the room was such a hard puzzle to work around. I couldn’t believe she wasn’t coming home with me where she belonged. I’ve never experienced a harder day and I haven’t completely thawed from it.

After Roxy’s passing I had many low days. Presley and I had to get reacquainted with one another. We didn’t know how to be a family of two when for so long it had been a family of three. I stopped writing, doing photography, yoga and running. Hobbies that had normally included Roxy by my side. 

During this process I had a man in my life as a close friend. He came to me days before Roxy passed away as a gift to help me grieve, talk and cry through the pain. He disappeared the day I got her ashes back. Funny how the universe works through people in such a touching way. It hurt when he left, but at same time I had been so numb, so full of loss that losing him just felt like an extension of the pain I already had. 

Presley took her time adjusting as well. She cried, and mourned in her own way. She too felt a heavy grief. We had our days of cuddles and bonding, and other days where we didn’t know what to do with each other. I questioned if she even liked me. One thing I know, she made my house less empty, a little more like home, and a reason to fight through the grief. I felt like a stranger had invaded my body and I didn’t know what life was like before Roxy.

Roxy was my dream come true. She was the dog I always wanted but hadn’t been allowed. Then one day a co-worker was giving up her dog. The breed I had only dreamt about. Again the universe had my back, and gave me what I needed. I picked her up at 4 years old and we were inseparable. She went everywhere with me. She was with me when I bought my house, though my marriage, and convinced me that she needed a friend (Presley). They saw me through my divorce and then moved with me across the country to Calgary. She was my shadow, my mirror, and my best friend. She knew when I was happy, and celebrated. She knew when I was sad, and was happy to cuddle up with me through any tears that I needed to shed. I couldn’t walk anywhere in my house without her following. So when she left me, it was felt immeasurably. 

People can say it was just a dog. To me she was family. Those that don’t understand,haven’t been blessed by the loyalty and love a dog can give. If you’ve had the chance to see the beautiful tribute short movie called “Denali ”  by Ben Moon, then you’ll know just what I’m talking about. Please take the time to watch it.  I’ve included the link. He quotes at the end “People can learn a lot from dogs. When someone you love walks through the door you should go totally insane with joy” I think the world would be fuller, better and kinder place if we all lived that way. Just think about that for a moment. How often does your significant other come home and you don’t even step away from the television to welcome them back? 

The best part of my day has always been coming home to the sound of eight paws scurrying to the door with toys in their mouth to say “Welcome Home Mom! We’ve missed you so much!!!” I still take so much pleasure in having Presley welcome me at the door, and will never for a minute take that for granted.

I met a beautiful human awhile after I lost my girl, someone who shaped nearly the last half of this year. He is a dog lover and had experienced the loss of one before. He gave me a gift in Roxy’s memory, artwork in the form of her name. The greater gift I received that night was that he knew how much it would touch me, and he let me break down in his arms. I will never forget that night. He understood, and he didn’t shy away from my emotions. Him and I didn’t get to finish this year together. The months we shared were complicated but deep. Even such, the brief time we had touched my heart in such a way. I’ll always cherish this man and his kind gesture. His absence hasn’t been easy, nor one I could let go of without feeling it deeply, but his presence helped me find myself through it all.

Six months have passed since Roxy’s left and I’m still not the same girl. I guess I’m m not meant to be. It’s taken me this long to be able to speak about it without breaking down completely. I stopped blogging because I couldn’t find my breath. A lot had happened, but I felt too numb to share it. Life comes in ebbs and tides, and we learn and grow. I think that was what 2016 was for me. It was a year of gains, loss and growth. The loss seems to have a bigger percentage then the gains, but I haven’t forgotten all the beauty that also happened this year. In loss we sometimes we find ourselves a little more. To the people that supported me this year through the ups and downs of life, I’m incredibly grateful. 

I wish everyday that Roxy was by my side, and we could go for a run, play at the park, and adventure in the mountains together. Presley and I have been going to  the mountain for fresh air in her honor. We’ve found our balance again and even though we can’t see her, I know she is by my side watching over me. I don’t think the loss will ever feel lighter. It doesn’t have to. I don’t have to feel thankful for losing her. I was the luckiest to have her for as long as I did. I’m thankful for her spending the last six years of her life with me. I’m a better person due to her presence. I hope everyone has the chance to experience life with a dog. It’s a gift that shouldn’t be denied. 

Not a day goes by that I’m not thinking of my girl. I still hear her pitter patter around my condo, and it brings warmth to my heart. Run free sweet girl. Say hi to all the dogs up there, and I hope you found a giant water bowl to quench your thirst. We miss you daily.

 

Thank you for NOT loving me 

To the men in my past, I today am filled with gratitude, nostalgia and sentimental thoughts. I’m thankful that you all didn’t love me enough. Or didn’t want me, or couldn’t stay, whatever the reason.. Thanks.
However these relationships came to end… It gave me courage, taught me kindness, broke me down and built me back up, and most of all showed me just how resilient I really am. I’m not suggesting I’m glad you all hurt me, or that we hurt each other. I’m thankful for how I made it through it gracefully and full of love for my life. So don’t take this as a compliment or that you men should all hurt others. We are all responsible for our actions, and need to be accountable for who we are.  I’m acknowledging the fact that I came through it okay because of who I am, and I’m thankful to be where I am today.

I had a conversation last night with a Man that spent many years together with me. After such an amazing day in Hoi An I agreed to it. I had previously told him due to how heartbreaking our ending had been, and some unfortunate damage done that I didn’t want to communicate or be friends anymore. However I reached out when I was travelling near his hometown. Just to say I’m alive and well and loving Vietnam. He contacted me back and we talked about the hurt we both suffered from such a traumatic ending to a relationship. It was an intense love we shared, but sometimes with that kind of love, the ups and downs are so extreme that it’s a wonder we both made it out… Regardless, we were able to show some kindness and compassion to one another and put some perspective as to why it went wrong. We talked about where we are now in our lives and how we got here, as well as offering some much needed closure and understanding of previous misconceptions. It was a healing conversation. It didn’t take away the things that cut so deep… But it’s helped put a bandage on those wounds left on me. 

“I am a part of all that I have met” 

That quote has been echoing though my head today. Every human interaction has changed me, filled me with joy, made me fall apart,taught me a lesson, or been a beacon of light in my life. Interactions that have made me laugh, cry, afraid, happy or angry. I am thankful for them all.

Because of these moments in my life I am filled with an overwhelming understanding that brings me to tears.

I AM EXACTLY WHERE I AM MEANT TO BE.  

How profound is that? I just want to sit with this thought for a few minutes. We as humans get so accustomed to being busy, distracted, lazy, stressed or simply waiting for the next best thing that we forget to focus on the now. On the moment we currently are in. We take these moments for granted. 

 Because of past interactions, and past relationships, ones that were good, ones that were bad, ones with friends, family, and romantic, they have all shaped me. They have allowed me to be just adventurous and fearless enough to be here in Vietnam experiencing a whole new world. I am exactly where I am meant to be. I’m following my path, and thankful for every moment I’m experiencing.

The days of being lost, of wandering aimlessly, of being afraid or excited. I appreciate them all. These are the moments on this trip that have pushed me, and made me damn proud of myself. They are all blessings. 

There are many ups and downs to travelling solo. But this is an experience I wish more people would allow themselves.  

We are all capable of amazing things. The challenge is to be willing to take the risk. 

So thanks guys, and even thanks for failed friendships and past jobs and “missed” opportunities, for the times I felt regret for not taking the chance on things.  It puts things into perspective. I needed to go through these things, so that today I could stand where I am and think “holy shit! I am meant for this.”

Thank you for these moments, experiences and challenges. It’s brought me here to where I stand today.

I am feeling overwhelmed, blessed, fearless and surrounded with love and protection from the universe and my friends that support me. Today I feel it. 

Love life. Because it’s a beautiful thing.

– Vanessa