goodbye beautiful girl

Wednesday afternoon we had to say goodbye to this beautiful girl.

Charlie was one month shy of her 9th birthday.

Charlie was adopted by my sister when she was just a baby (2007). When my sister, who also had an 8 month old boy, realized just how much work a dog that would grow to be Charlie's size was going to be, she asked me if I knew anyone that might want to adopt her. As it turned out, I did.

My mother in law had a soft spot for great danes. She quite willingly took Charlie when she was just 8 weeks old. When we delivered her to her new home, the little goofball promptly fell in the pool. Twice.

She was my mother in laws dog through and through. Due to a physical disability my mother in law wasn't able to take Charlie for training, so we did. She graduated top of her class. Charlie had a deep and abiding love of my husband and would have done anything he asked of her.

Around the age of 2 Charlie suffered what would be a life altering setback. She developed Wobbler's Syndrome. Wobbler's sounds made up, but it is a condition in which the spinal cord and nerves are compressed by malformed vertebrae. This can cause limb weakness, paralysis, loss of muscle mass, and pain. It looked like Charlie wouldn't make it her 3rd birthday.

Somehow, she persevered. She walked and played. She ran and romped. It was a doggie size miracle.

Then tragedy struck again. My mother in law suffered a series of strokes that landed her in the hospital, then a nursing home. She was barely the same person anymore. Charlie languished without her mommy. After an interminable 8 months my mother in law passed away in September of 2012.

My father in law, now living alone, never wanted a dog. Or any pets for that matter. He worked a lot and began neglecting Charlie. For the next 3 years Charlie spent far too much time outside alone, she had little contact or human stimulation. None of the rest of the family was able to take her in as our places of residence forbade it. We spent as much time with her as we were able, but noticed she was beginning to lose weight. My father in law had been feeding her cheap food that she had no interest in. Charlie had never been a heavy Dane, only ever weighing about 110 pounds, but it looked like she was wasting away. She developed an eye infection that he never even noticed, and the rest of took her to the vet. It was truly deplorable. My mother in law would have kicked his ass for treating her beloved dog like that.

During these three years, he also neglected a beautiful african gray parrot by not keeping the cage clean and feeding him the variety of food he required to maintain his health. Shadow had a stroke. My niece and I had to take him to the vet and make the decision to have him euthanized. I loved that bird and he loved me.

Fast forward. In 2014 my father in law met a new women. He kept her a secret from the family, even though we ALL wanted him to meet someone and move on with life.
His secret obsessive relationship with her affected us all. Mostly Charlie, as it meant he was home even less. He mostly moved in with new woman, even though he didn't tell anyone, leaving Charlie behind. After a WHILE he got he renter for his house, the renter actually took pretty good care of our girl. Charlie put some weight back on and seemed a bit happier. This in no way excuses his treatment of her.

In July of 2015, he married new woman. AND DIDN'T TELL HIS OWN SON. But that is a post for another day. We received a call stating that he was moving in 2 weeks and we had to find Charlie a new home or he was dropping her off at a shelter. Who does that? Charlie had never been socialized properly and didn't like other animals. No one was going to take an animal aggressive geriatric great dane with spinal issues. Not even dane rescues would take her. Our sweet girl had a bleak future.

My sister in law, whom I have often not seen eye to eye with, took Charlie in. Bringing her zoo total to 1 cat, 3 dogs, and 4 rabbits. Charlie finally had the life she deserved. She had a cushy bed in her own room, as much quality food as she could eat, blankets to snuggle in. She learned how to play fetch at 8 years old, she got regular baths and felt silky for the first time in years. My sister in law gave her a good life in what would ultimately end up being hospice care. For that I'll be forever grateful.

Over the past few weeks Charlie's Wobbler's got progressively worse. A family decision was made that if she was suffering, it was time. So on April 20th 2016, we took her in and had our beautiful girl euthanized. We gave her treats, she got lots of scritches and tons of kisses. We sat on the floor with her while she went to sleep, all of our hands petting her and our voices telling her she was a good girl.

I can only imagine how ecstatic she must have been to be with her mommy again. We're going to miss our beautiful girl. I'm going to miss her floppy ears and moose legs, her lopsided gallop and Wookie whine.

Have a better life, free of pain. We miss you.


in the mirror

One day she looked in the mirror
and remembered who she was
Button nose and rounded cheeks
a smattering of fuzz
Eyes of grey with love and life
and everything she'd learned
Only a moment of clarity
before the stranger then returned


the day I conquered my anxiety just so I could meet Jenny Lawson

For the last year or so my anxiety has been getting worse. It isn't social (thankfully), but it doesn't seem to have a cause. I have a horrible combination of a highly overactive imagination and far too much information in my head about all things that can go wrong. 

This being said, let me back up a bit. I'm going to roughly guess that I started reading theBloggess, written by Jenny Lawson, in 2009. In 2011 she published a book called Let's Pretend This Happened. I devoured it. I could see myself in her words. She spoke so openly about her various mental illnesses, and how she kept surviving everyday.

It was amazing to see all the things I felt written down on paper with such humor. It was a SOMEONE GETS ME!!!!! Kind of moment. I kept reading her blog in the intervening years.
Fast forward to 2015. Jenny released another book called Furiously Happy, further detailing her real life struggles, stories about her family, etc... Jenny announced a book tour and she was coming here. I was SO EXCITED. I finallyfelt like I had something to look forward to. But as the time got closer I started to dread it. I felt like I couldn't do it. But I knew, KNEW, that I would forever regret it if I didn't go.
The day before I was such a wreck. I couldn't sit still. I was a tightly wound ball of stress energy. But I went. We got up that sunday morning and went. I went in alone and got a seat, I waited almost 3 hours. As I sat there, hundreds of people began to file in around me. I was already tense but as the minutes dragged on I got shaky. I don't know if it was all me or if it was the energy of the hundreds of messed up misfits (she says proudly) that were crowded around me, but I was barely holding it together.
Jenny showed up and gave us a little speech a did a reading from her book. I cried gently the entire time. I cried for 3 hours straight. I cried with strangers, we hugged and huddled under jackets for safety. I waited my turn and got my books signed, had my picture taken with her, and handed her a letter I had written the night before, thanking her for all the things she didn't know she did for me. For all of us. I got a hug.
Then I went into the pregnancy section of the bookstore (not a plan, just only as far as I was able to make it) and had a breakdown. I sent my husband a text to come rescue me. I felt like I was going to throw up for another 2 hours.
I did it.
I went.
I conquered my own crazy brain, if only for one day.
My profile pic is a raccoon mask with the words Furiously Happy on it. The raccoon is named Rory and he was on the cover of her book. We all got one at the signing. The picture is to remind me that I did something I was terrified of and I survived. That it's worth it to do scary things, to take the leap sometimes even when the voices in my head tell me I can't.


Thank you, again, Jenny. I feel like I can't ever say it enough.


happy to take his own life


Before you jump up and down on me for the title of this post, please read it through.

Last week a dear friend took his own life. I've been struggling with my own very selfish feelings regarding his decision.

Charlie had been my friend for over 20 years. We met in high school, but even then, at 14, he was different. He never seemed to be of this world. He never ever cared what people thought of him. He did exactly what made him happy. We laughed, he held my hand as I cried about one thing or another, we went to the symphony together, lay in the dark and watched the stars, spoke (what felt like endlessly) of bowel movements. He learned Esperanto and tried to teach us all. He explained things so bluntly that you wondered how it was so easy for him. He turned my necklace clasp around and instead of telling me to make a wish, he kissed me just because he wanted to.

During his college years Charlie had a very bad experience with LSD, with a trip lasting for upwards of a few weeks. It changed him. His behavior had all the hallmarks of an activated latent psychosis. He quit school, was homeless, was in and out of mental institutions, and did a short stint in jail when he was convicted of attempted kidnapping.

This is not the person I knew. My brilliant, talented, friend was now living a zero risk life. He would not take any form of transportation as it was considered too much of safety risk. He barely ate enough to keep himself alive, eschewing all forms of animal products. The things you consider parts of everyday life, he considered a risk. His behavior and mode of speech were erratic, his stories were alarming.

Most alarming of all were the constant suicide attempts.

He happily attempted to kill himself 5 times. It is what he wanted more than anything. To leave the meat suit behind and transcend to a higher spiritual plane. He wasn't suicidal because he was sad, there was no trauma in his life that he wished to escape. He wasn't trying to end it all because there was no other way out of some situation. He wanted it. He wanted to go to a place where other people didn't suffer. Where existence was free of peril.

On November 6th he got his wish. He planned carefully, including calculating dosages for maximum effectiveness. The use of anti-emetics so he wouldn't throw up said pills. Use of a laxative so his stomach contents would empty more quickly. And most horrifying, the use of a heavy plastic bag to reduce air supply.

How do I know these things? He posted a suicide not to his blog, complete with pictures. I haven't made it past the pictures.

I probably never will.

I will always miss my friend.

I don't know if I will ever be able to be happy for him. Though, I know it's what he would have wanted.

You never hear of someone who took their own life happily. It is always the tortured soul who sees no other way, who couldn't go on.

Dear friend, I hope you are where you'd hoped to be. I hope you are truly happy and existing without fear. Miss you.