Showing posts with label Family. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Family. Show all posts

Friday, April 21, 2023

"how can you just leave me standing/alone in a world so cold"*

We never had pets growing up because my parents thought I was incapable of handling the inevitable reality of pet loss--talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy! (To be fair, this was probably well grounded, because I would do stuff like cry for hours about hurt butterflies and birds and whatnot. I wasn't an easy child.)

This means that when I met Scout, I just fell so hard for him. He was my dream puppy baby and when Huckie came along the next year, they became the perpetual toddlers in the large family I yearned for. Big A and I have always been "Dada" and "Mama" to them.

So these ten years with Scout coincide with some of the most golden years of my parenting life--the mischief and unpredictability and joy and surprise and beauty and busyness--and saying goodbye to Scout feels like saying goodbye to a stage of life I loved so much. It's one of the few periods I'd be happy to live through all over again. Wish you could stay, Scoutie. You're always so wonderful at helping me figure things out.   

Pic: A light saber fight (dance?) from 2013. Scout has the green light saber, he played with it all that summer and chewed off the tip and yes--I still have it. 

Title: Today marks seven years since Prince left us--also too soon.

Thursday, April 20, 2023

it's almost time

This morning I had to pry Scout's wolf mouth open to slide pills hidden in a lump of icecream into him. These last couple of days have been the first time Scout has ever been uninterested in food or the outdoors. Everyone said Scout would let us know when it was time... it feels like he's telling us now.

He's so weary, but still the Scoutie who wants to be as near us and get all the pets as possible though. I want for Scout what I'd want for myself--to pass away at home surrounded by loved ones. We have an appointment with the hospice vet for Monday. 

Pic: One of my favorite pictures of Scout. In the old house, he'd lean on the window sill with his stuffie under one arm and get so excited if he saw any creatures swim past us in the river. He wanted to be friends with every living thing when he was a baby. I first posted this here.

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

photo swap

Thank you for all the good wishes and confidence in my ability to take good photos. The photographer turned out to be the partner of someone I adore in one of my classes, so I felt quite at ease + I wore an Indian scarf and felt grounded and comfortable. 

Despite all that though, I somehow look exceedingly stiff and startled in the picture. Ah. C'est la vie. It's unlikely that this copyrighted, corporate photo will be used for anything other than the press release anyway. 

Pic: The photo that brought me joy today was Nu's picture of Scout and Huck keeping me warm. Their touching butts make a heart shape if you squint just right.

Monday, April 17, 2023


Kind of a slow day over here. Big A did the 36-mile Barry Roubaix this weekend and it seems to have rendered him both sore and silent. At some point on our very long walk, I asked him what he was thinking about:

Big A: Cycling. 

Me: What about it? 

Big A: How to do it faster...

Me: Faster? How?

Big A: I have to pedal faster. 

Scintillating. It was a good day for Scout and us, but we're heavy with dread.

In other news, I panicked because I have to get headshots taken tomorrow. I asked a couple of my networking groups for tips because I can be camera-averse + awkward + preoccupied by Scout. People were so kind and someone posted this YouTube link that really helped

Pic: A turtle sunning itself on a rock. Red Cedar River, walk with Big A.

Sunday, April 16, 2023

"cherry blossoms fill the air"*

It rained all day, but both our cherry trees are in bloom--overnight and within a day of each other.

But At was home for dinner and Big A leaves tomorrow for MKE, so I took the annual cherry blossom family picture today. 

This is weeks earlier than any other year I can remember

Temps had dropped thirty degrees over the course of the day (from 75-35 degrees), and Nu urged me to hurry up with the pictures because they were cold.

I was worried about the tiny sprints Scout broke into a couple of times (the doc has advised against running). But At said something that made me think--"imagine how happy he must be that he feels he can run again." 💗

Pic: Scout, At, Nu, Big A, and Huck between the cherry trees.

*Title: from a song At used to sing to Nu while they were in my belly. Video version here

Saturday, April 15, 2023

I guess I won something...

I attended yesterday's faculty meeting virtually because I wanted to get home to Scoutie. The sound was iffy from the beginning, but completely cut out right as the Prez announced the tenured faculty teaching award. 

I gathered (from chat and texts) that apparently I was the one who won it this year? Yay! Yay? It feels unreal and anti-climatic, because I missed the nice stuff I could see him saying about why I was nominated etc. I can't help noticing how uncharacteristically unexcited I am about this right now.

Usually, my students win awards. Ironically, this year--my students were runners up and I have this award. Honestly, I prefer it the other way--awards definitely mean more to them as they set off on their post-graduate careers. 

Pic: Scout and Huck sniffing spring and deer smells. Good day for Scout, but he just looks so tired in photos lately. 

Friday, April 14, 2023


I got an hour of sleep last night. There are inscrutable little comments and emails from me with time stamps ranging from 1:30 am (when I headed up to bed) to 4:30 am (when I fell asleep) all over the place. 

Then I had a dream where Nicole and StephLove visited me--I lived in a flooding basement apartment, the leak from the street-level windows springing up like tears. Happy times. But I remember smiling because Nicole asked, with gentle curiosity if "the seal would hold"--and I remember thinking how like her to address an issue without alarming everyone.

EM and I did a 40-minute version of our "Hope as a Cognitive Process" workshop for the WGS Consortium out of the U of Wisconsin this morning. It feels like we have enough to turn our spiel into an article. For the first time, editors have been sending us queries for an (as yet) unwritten article. That feels kinda fast track; kinda high pressure. 

My breathless delivery of all this news = my high because Scout is having a good day after the okayest day yesterday. 

Pic: It's spring everywhere and seemingly all at once--on my walk with Big A this morning, both the forsythia and the willow were in rival shades of yellow along the Red Cedar.

Thursday, April 13, 2023


It's no secret that Big A is a more indulgent puppy kid parent than a human kid parent... and it's no surprise that Scout's condition hit him hard. I've had to be the emotionally supportive partner more than I can ever remember being. 

I was kind of depending on Big A because... what do I know--Scout is my first ever pet and all I've ever done is read books. Big A is an emergency physician, he had a lot of pets growing up--he'd know what to do, right? No. Families make end of life decisions not healthcare providers, and all his pets "got given away or run over" and hearing that made me want to cry all over again.

Anyway, last day of classes today and then a wine-and-cheese thing at our college President's house. When Prez A politely asked me how I was, I started telling him about my dying puppy (face palm). He then valiantly saved the conversation by telling me that he and Big A follow each other on Zwift, so we were able to turn back to safer topics before I had a meltdown.

Pic: Big A with Scout and Huck post backyard walk; a glimpse of me in the mirror.

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

tiny, beautiful things

The hospice vet visited this morning--everyone I asked recommended her, and she lives up to all the wonderful things people said about her. We now have a sort of plan: we are to call her when the bad days begin to outnumber the good days. 

Today was a bad day, FTR. On good days, I feel Scout could go on for months; on bad days I wait for the next good day. I was such a mess today; in meetings, I could definitely feel myself bringing people down with my horrible energy.

Also, it's not helping that I've been watching Tiny, Beautiful Things, which is devastating. It's based on the Cheryl Strayed book and I cry through half the show at least. When I peeked at the book, it looks really different in structure, so I'm going to have to get it and read it. And cry some more.

Pic: Scout and Huck love this little dell with its carpet of tiny bluets in April and I'm glad I got this picture of them together so carefully sniffing everything.

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

living in hope

My colleague-friend, who helped me get to Scout and lost her own puppy unexpectedly that same week, thinks Scout died too. It makes sense because Scout's death seemed so imminent ("a matter of hours to days") and also I kind of avoided her question about Scout when we were texting in the aftermath of her loss. It seemed such an unfair allocation of fate.

Anyway, the hospice vet is coming to check on Scout tomorrow. There is no good news (if the internal bleeding doesn't take him out, they say the tumors causing it surely will). But friends tell me their own loves have lived up to a year with similar diagnoses, and so I live in hope. 

Monday, April 10, 2023

playing catch up

I really did take the weekend off for once, so there was a ton of Monday stuff to get through this morning... almost all done now. I worked so single-mindedly that when I got up at the end of that session, I was quite dizzy. I keep thinking I should set a timer for an hour to remind myself to move/drink water/give my eyes a break. I should just do it already.

Scout and Huck are a bit miffed about the end of Easter weekend; Nu has a ton of PSAT testing this week so they're taking things easy; At showed up for dinner with a couple of his labor friends; Big A returns tomorrow; this is the last week of classes for me. There! All caught up.

Pic: Scout! These days I follow him around the way he usually follows me. 

Sunday, April 09, 2023

Happy Easter

A gorgeous day and I got to spend it all with all my babies. 

We did our usual egg hunt in the backyard with rhyming clues.  This year the clue At and Nu found tough was the one that rhymed rains/cranes... they kept getting stuck... "wains?" "brains?" That sounded so zombie-like, it made me laugh. A lot.

My heart is full today. Christmases, birthdays, and Easter make Scout and Huck especially bonkers with happiness--I feel happy we got to do another Easter with Scoutie.

Pic: Can you see all four kids? I thought the tree shadows looked so cool.

Saturday, April 08, 2023

saying yes

Yes, it was a good day for Scout today. He loves a good Easter egg hunt, so I'm extra glad he's with us tomorrow. 

The vet gave us Yunan Baiyao--a Chinese herb cocktail that seems to be helping with the internal bleeding; it won't cure the tumors, but I say yes to whatever extra days Scout can spend with us. 

I checked with the hospice vet that I'm not saying yes at the expense of Scout's well being. They gave us a quality of life and pain scale interpreter, and apart from the very bad days (3/31, 4/1, and 4/6), the other days have been alright... 

I can still see Scout being himself. This morning he saw me after his short ramble in the backyard and started to run towards me the way he always does. I was afraid he would restart his internal bleed and started saying "slowly, Scout, slowly"--but he heard his name and thought I was calling him and ran harder. I watched for his belly to distend all morning, but so far so good.

Pic: EM took this photo of Scout and me this afternoon when she visited. I'll treasure this one. As I'm the official picture taker in the family, there aren't enough pictures of me and Scout together. When people ask if they can take my picture these days, I say yes (even if my face is tear-streaked, my hair is a mess, and my bra strap is showing).

Thursday, April 06, 2023


Honors Day has got to be my favorite; I'm thoroughly impressed by the work student-people do (even when I've seen the work in process and up close for nearly a year). 

Also: everything was this close. The student whose work I had sponsored was the runner up for the Kapp prize, the student whom I had nominated for a Barlow was also a runner up. A certain someone gave a winning introductory speech at the fancy dinner though (it was me!).

If I sound hyper and/or cocky it's because I'm thrilled I get to have another night spooning Scout. When I left him in Big A's care this morning he was doing so badly, we'd decided to call hospice at the end of the day. I had that hanging over my head as I went to student panels--turning on my good energy, going back to my office between panels to panic and cry, then back to panels again. I kind of impressed myself by how well I could fake seeming normal in between crying on the phone to my sister and KB, crying on text to EM and LB etc.

Then Big A texted that Scout had started to rally--he'd even made it outside. It's kind of impressive that Scout has made it to the one-week mark at this point. He's way worse than he was a week ago, and his breathing is sometimes noisy and heartbreakingly labored. But he doesn't seem to be in pain and he's calm, content, and here.  

Pic: Big A's photo of the sibs together.

Wednesday, April 05, 2023

more goodbye

I got greedy. 

At first I was just so grateful Scout was still here when I got back from Denver. Then I wanted more. My return perked him up and Sunday was such a very good day... so I began to feel the docs were wrong, and he'd somehow make it through.  

But after we got the second opinion and Scout got that semi shave, he seems to be declining again and not even I can ignore that everything seems to be a struggle for him right now.

I'm in no way prepared for a life without Scout.

Friends have been coming by to say goodbye...

Pic: BSL with Scout; Huckie sneaks a kiss.

Tuesday, April 04, 2023

favorite child

Pic: I've been thinking of this post from two years ago a lot. It's clear now, despite all my previous protestations, that I do have a favorite child... and Scout is it. 

Monday, April 03, 2023

"yesterday... all my troubles seemed so far away"

(Sounds weird to say it, but...) I had a great day yesterday. 

On Friday, the E.R. doc had said that it was merely a matter of "hours or days" for Scout, so getting home a day and a half later and seeing him wag his tail in greeting and get on his feet for pets from me was terrific in itself.

And then I got to have all my kids at breakfast (two at the counter, the other two on the floor) wanting attention, sharing news, being themselves. Really... it's what I've missed every day since At went away to college. I spent the rest of the morning talking/reading --At's head in my lap; Nu (who's way less touchy-feely) on the sofa next to me, letting me squeeze their shoulder now and then; Scout and Huckie snuggled up on my other side. Then I made lunch for everyone. Then people went off to do their own thing for a while. Then I made dinner for everyone. Then we watched a show and played word games. It was like an ordinary and perfect Sunday.

And maybe I'm only seeing what I want to see, but while Scout does look unwell, he doesn't look like he's at death's door. For hours at a time, I could almost forget that the options we'd been given for Scout were surgery (with a failure rate of 7/10) and "humane euthanasia." 

Today we took Scout to another hospital for a second opinion, because surely those can't be the only options? But no--those are the only options. He's hospitalized for the day so they can do a detailed ultrasound to determine if surgery is even viable, and then we get to have that discussion about whether to put him through surgery all over again. 

I'm not having a great day today. Going this whole day without Scout when our days together are so numbered seems especially stupid. 

Pic: Scout (and Huckie) following me around yesterday.

Sunday, April 02, 2023

Saturday, April 01, 2023

the waiting game

Just waiting to go home to Scout and I'm in that space where everything feels surreal, and other people seem alien.

All I've done today is cry a lot and wish for the day to pass quickly. It didn't, but no matter how slowly... time passes.

At the airport now, waiting to board the flight, which is delayed--but not by much. Fingers crossed.

Friday, March 31, 2023

stuck in Denver...

Big A is with Scout at the E.R. because my baby is not doing well. They see a lot of fluid they think is blood in his ultrasound and... it doesn't look good.

Over the last couple of years, Scout has run into health problems and I've involuntarily imagined the end. In none of those scenarios did I ever imagine that I wouldn't be right there with him. 

I'm scheduled to leave for home at midnight tomorrow. And there are no other available flights that get me in earlier...

I don't know how I'm going to get through the next 36 hours before I see Scout. I hope I see Scout. 

Pic: From the walkway bridge inside the hotel when I didn't know Scout was declining.

reading between the flowers

I think teenager Cass makes a terrific point in  The Bee Sting  when she is irritated with the ubiquitous nature themes in poetry:  “You go ...