My dog died and my daughter got a tattoo.
So, how are things with you?
Ok, ok, I am not really equating the two events. Obviously, losing Dobby is actually heartbreaking. After almost two weeks, I still find my eyes filling with tears repeatedly throughout the day as I stumble upon another reminder of his absence. As we adjust to our new normal, I am constantly surprised how much our daily schedule revolved around the routines that provided tail-wagging excitement to our little buddy’s day and thus to ours (minus the tail wagging.) Feeding time was the BEST thing that EVER happened twice a day, every single day. Ditto the nightly bedtime treat. Every time I walked back in the door, he was simply DELIGHTED to see me, as if I was his long lost favorite thing in the whole wide world. The rhythms of our days were inextricably entwined with his and he made me smile a hundred times a day.
Dobby lived for food and snuggles, period. However, in his last few months, snuggling became difficult. Arthritic hips made it impossible for him to get comfortable in his usual perch on the closest lap, finally causing him to avoid physical affection altogether. He would mostly sit at my feet and whine, both of us missing our many YEARS together in the big chair. If you’ve read anything I’ve ever written, including my book, you should know that it was likely written with a little furry friend either in my lap or snuggled up beside me. Although we tried every pain medication we could, one morning it became clear it was time to say goodbye. Dobby died three days before his 16th birthday and we will miss him forever.
Our girls were in first and third grades when Dobby joined our family, so he was present for the majority of their childhoods. A few days after we said goodbye, Steve and I pulled out the home movies to reminisce, fast forwarding through dance recitals and beach vacations to find glimpses of Dobby. As we watched Christmas morning footage of our two tow headed girls and their rambunctious constant companion, we felt equal parts melancholy and gratitude. We have had a good run. We weren’t perfect parents, but we provided a beautiful life for all three of them, Dobby included. At 22 and 24, our little girls are now young women, college graduates creating and imagining their own version of what I am certain will be an equally beautiful life as adults.
Which brings me back to the tattoo.
For the record, I am not morally opposed to YOU having a tattoo. I celebrate YOUR freedom to express your creativity, passion and commitment to your cause with permanent artwork on whatever part of YOUR body seems appropriate. I’ve even seen a few tattoos I find inspirational, maybe even beautiful. YOU do YOU, and I will cheer you on!
But I didn’t give birth to you, wash your little chubby fingers and toes, or change your diapers. I didn’t marvel at the precious little birthmark on your foot or repeatedly kiss the folds of perfect skin on the back of your neck. I never tried to memorize the way you smelled wrapped up in a hooded duck towel fresh from the tub, squirmy and giggling as I tried to wrangle your feet into feety pajamas before you got away. I didn’t get teary when you tried on your first bra, your first fancy party dress or your first pair of heels. And I don’t have 16 years of first day of school photos of you.
Here is the thing: apparently, my children no longer need my permission to decorate, mutilate, or adorn their perfect bodies in whatever way they choose. I can certainly have an opinion, but I am no longer in charge. While they often value my input, they ultimately get to choose. They are the deciders. They are adults and, as good as it was, their childhood is over.
Raise your hands if you are also crying at this juncture in our time together today. Geez, this feeling stuff is just exhausting, isn’t it?
As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve recently become fascinated by the Enneagram (if you don’t know what enneagram means, go read that post.) Part of what I am learning about my particular type is that I have a tendency to fast forward through the tough stuff. Like most Sevens, avoiding pain is part of what motivates me. I am skilled at compartmentalizing my feelings and postponing, delaying or avoiding messy stuff like grief, loss or sadness. I am brilliant at finding the silver lining, spinning to the positive, and looking at the bright side. And I mostly like that about myself.
But right now, I am trying to honor the sadness for a minute, despite my desire to make you and me both feel better with a pithy, upbeat phrase or two. For the first time since 1999, this September will not include first day of school photos, like this one. Dobby’s passing and the end of this era in our family feels weighty. Not only was Dobby around for most of the girl’s childhood, but I realized I too have grown up since we picked him out of that litter. I was 38 then, and now I am 54. My life has changed in wonderful and occasionally difficult ways since then. Time is passing, things are changing, and it is healthy to stop for a moment and experience THIS moment before I race too quickly to the next. This time, I am choosing to be HERE now. I will savor this bittersweet moment because it honors what has come before and the journey thus far. I will savor this bittersweet moment because it honors what has come before and the journey thus far. Click To Tweet
My dog died and my daughter got a tattoo. And I feel sad.
(And if you want to know which daughter got a tattoo, stay tuned. I’m sure she will write about it soon enough.)
GROUP COACHING OPPORTUNITY: I am offering a NEW 6 week group coaching class this fall beginning September 18th. It is called Beyond Brave. Click HERE for more information!