Monday, April 23, 2018

I Love Coming Home to Truman

219 days. That's the span of time from my last blog post dated September 17, 2017 to today, April 23, 2018. There's a lot of story in that gap. A couple's ten-day escape, a weekend escape to Florida, eight holidays (Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, Martin Luther King day, Valentine's, Presidents Day, Easter), one family vacation during spring break, too many work days, youngest son home for a week during his term gap, year-end and tax season, three calendar seasons (fall, winter, and spring), road trips to Houston and Tennessee and Florida, traveling to Washington for a week of work, another winter with a case of the flu, lots of every day living, and then the horrible, no good, very bad day in January when I got the 11:07 p.m. phone call that my dad had unexpectedly passed away, and it's twin horror that followed five days later when we laid him to rest at the Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Houston, Texas. Yes, lots of story in that gap.

When I think of the blur that 2018 has been since that terrible phone call received in the remnants of  January 29, there are gaps that I cannot make pieces and parts out of, and there are quiet moments of normalcy where I can shelve the grief and keep the lifetime of memories at bay, and can live in this day - of right here, right now, life is good mode, and then there are moments of deep sorrow where I feel much, and remember much, and then feel even more. This grief thing is organic and raw, and honestly, quite puzzling. My dad always expected much of me, and I dealt well with his expectations, I think. Or at least I was always attempting to deal well with them. We had a rough love, but a real love. As a family of deep faith, we rest in knowing he is now in heaven, and we live out our days here until one by one our family chain that was broken in January begins rebuilding on the other side. I think what bothers me the most is that his participation in family events is over, and life as my extended and immediate family knew it is forever gone. There are so many traditional and cherished things that are now forever no more. And we worry about my mom, being alone, living alone, grieving, and everything we are feeling and thinking and doing and pursuing is quite normal, I suppose.

As I muddle through these days, one thing that has been constant (besides my amazing, tender, loving husband) is Master Truman. 

He's such a funny little human trapped in a fur body. He "talks" to us with any one of his 100 different moans and whimpers and groans he makes, not to mention his many varied barks, or just his wagging tail and his mouth parted in his tooth-showing smile. Saturday I sat for awhile in my living room, with him resting on my lap, both of us staring simultaneously through the wall of windows, and through the panes of glass in the front door. Just a girl and her dog. We both love sitting in the brown leather chair because it affords the total panoramic view of the house - everything downstairs - and through the windows and door, everything outside in the side yard, and everything on the sidewalk and street. What I love most about him is he is content to be. To be himself, to be with, to be left, to be greeted, to be walked, to be adored, to be left to nap, to be loved. To just be.

That message has resonated with me of late, as I have allowed my heart to feel, and my mind to remember, and my soul to ponder. It's okay to just be. To wade through each day with its own challenges, to seek the joy, to process the sorrow, to handle the daily minutiae of the ever pressing life. I had a fairly good weekend. I got some fun and productive things accomplished this weekend, and there were big gaps of time that felt normal and where my heart was light and joyful. And it was palpable. And that made me smile inside. Because I could finally feel some hope through the pain and through the sorrow. Not that in any measure am I done grieving, but that, much like storm clouds breaking to showcase the hidden sun, I could see gaps in the pain, and know that the storm of sorrow is transient and mobile, and this weekend I welcomed the break where I could feel the bright light of whatever it is called when you are grieving that you might call non-sorrow, or the absence of sorrow. Yes, it felt like I could see the sliver of shiny silver sun and feel it's warmth and know some joy, sense some hope of the lift from the weight of grief.

And of many things I have wanted to resume these past many weeks, my blogging has been one of them. And as I thought about where in the world would be an appropriate place to pick up the tattered fragments of my blog, I though about my one temporal and real constant during all of this, my sweet dog that has been with me every moment I've been home, and who has been with me on many of my trips this year, including funeral week to Houston, my sweet little Westie. And it seemed fitting really, to circle back to him, as if in some way to pay homage to dad, who made us a lover of dogs, who always had a dog, or wanted a dog, or fought mom so we kids could have a dog (that chapter did not end well), or who was a part-time dog breeder of more than one breed through the years. There was one segment of life of late where dad, both of my sisters, my brother, and myself all had a dog simultaneously, and many of us have had varied dogs over the decades. {One sister's dog is now gone; the rest of us remain dog homes.} And they are/were all house dogs. We are a family of dog lovers, and I can still recall fondly the litters of puppies that were in our childhood home, and know that way back when, our love of the pup was planted in our hearts.

Dad found out about the Westie breed through me, and he quickly got a Westie not too long after I did, or who even knows or remembers...I think he may even have bought his first Westie before I got Truman. And as I think on it, I believe he did because I think I remember being exasperated that he got his Westie before I got mine, when I had been longing for one since 2006. Dad was that way - impetuous to a fault, and to the end. And as dad battled cancer and fought to recover from it, his dogs were constantly at his side. And as Truman has tended my heart these last 3 months, I know in a small measure how much comfort dad drew from Layla and Belle during the last 13 months of his life. And as Truman has tended my heart, Layla and Belle have tended mom's. Belle is at my sister's now, with a litter of 5. I told my sister that dad would be so jealous that he missed such a big litter, and I know my sister worked hard to get all those pups here, as one final tribute to the dog breeder hat that dad wore.

When we were compiling photos for dad's service, a photo of him with his two fur babies in his lap was unanimously a definite addition.
He did love his dogs, and they loved him. And his Layla is now forging her bond with mom, and I know that they are very good for each other right now, and watching mom care for Layla and talk to Layla rips a hole in my heart, and simultaneously makes me smile so big. 

And I like to think that the love our dogs have for us is a shadow or a glimpse of the unconditional and unfettered and ever forgiving love that God has for us. I am reminded when I see Truman wagging his tail that God adores me just as much. And that's the best thing in the world to come home to at the end of day. Yes, the love of Truman has been such a balm for my heart these past 12 weeks. I just love coming home to this little white fur ball boo. I love coming home to Truman.

I Love You from Your Wet Nose to Your Wagging Tail ~ Master Truman's Life ~ Spring 2017

Sketch Credit: Scrapbook Generation
Paper: Photo Play, Imaginisce, Bo Bunny
Titles: Photo Play journal card