This is what our mantel looks like right now. While there are a few Valentine's Day cards up there, it is mostly filled with sympathy cards from family and friends.
The support we've gotten from everyone in our lives has been overwhelming. On the day we put Dax down a group of friends organized our girls' activities for day, so that they would be out of the house and having fun while things were happening at home.
We had the vet come to our home, a luxury I am grateful we were able to pay for. She was kind, sympathic, patient and wonderful. I am so thankful Dax was able to pass away in his favorite place; in front of a roaring fire, on my lap. What a gift.
A good friend of mine came to be with me when the vet came to our house. Wayne dealt with Dax's passing by going for a long, peaceful run in the hush of new fallen snow. Without my friend being with me, it would have been just the vet and I. I could never have asked her to be there -- she volunteered.
As strange as it seems, a back injury which flared up the day before Dax was put down was a blessing. It gave me an afternoon to myself at home with him, resting on the couch with ice, a laptop, and a snoring dog.
Earlier in the month, I lunched with dear friends of mine. We've known each other for nearly two decades. One friend gave the others a belated Christmas gift of a CD set of "This I Believe," an NPR series of 5-minute essays. Now we don't usually exchange gifts, and I had nothing for my friend, but she had enjoyed this series so much that she wanted to share it.
What a gift that has been! The essays are from famous and not-so-famous Americans, writing from their heart about the beliefs that guide their lives. It's not religious, and some of the essays are downright quirky. Many of them were so appropriate for what our family is feeling at this time.
My favorite essay is the one recorded by Oscar Hammerstein, famed composer of The King and I, The Sound of Music, Oklahoma! and many other classics. His essay is titled "Happy Talk," and my favorite lines are:
Why do I believe I am happy? Death has deprived me of many whom I loved. Dismal failure has followed many of my most earnest efforts. People have disappointed me. I have disappointed them. I have disappointed myself...
..Could I not build up a strong case to prove why I am not happy at all? I could, but it would be a false picture, as false as if I were to describe a tree only as it looks in winter. I would be leaving out a list of people I love, who have not died. I would be leaving out an acknowledgement of the many successes that have sprouted among my many failures. I would be leaving out the blessing of good health, the joy of walking in the sunshine.Ultimately, that's what it comes down to: what we are humans choose to focus on. And as I've written before, I choose joy.
Since Dax's passing, I know of two people in my life who have lost a parent. Another has put her father into hospice care, and one friend's sister is battling breast cancer...again.
There are other people and places for me to put my energy now, for me to support those friends not in grand heroic gestures but in simple acts of kindness. My turn to return to the universe the blessings it has showered on me.