A Big Change

In November of 2002, at my parent’s house on Corona Street in Eugene, Oregon, I packed two big U-Haul boxes. One contained my clothes and some bedding, the other contained supplies for my cat, Max. My dad drove Max and me and my boxes to the Portland airport, where I walked through security with her in my arms and tears in my eyes. Vicki picked us up in Norfolk, Virginia later that same night and thus began my life on the east coast.

Fifteen years later, I’m headed home. Back to Eugene, to that same street on which I packed my boxes all those years ago, albeit a different house. This time, I’ll make the journey with my husband, son, our two dogs, two cats, and a truck full of what-remains-after-the-necessary-downsizing.

It’s incredibly bittersweet. We’re going to be much closer to my family (most of them) and much farther from Giehl’s. Isaiah doesn’t remember living anywhere except Philadelphia, and is pretty crushed to be leaving his friends. I’ve assured him that with relative frequency, he’ll be able to accompany me on work trips back east, and FaceTime was made for situations just like this. We’re leaving behind a church community that felt like home from the first day. I’ll miss hiking and running in the Wissahickon with amazingly supportive neighborhood friends, carpooling with Kristyn, book club, being ladies-who-lunch with Beth, and much, much more (not necessarily in that order).

I’m grateful that I’ll be able to keep my job after the move, that I’ll continue to be able to do work that I love and that is much needed. I’m grateful that the friends I’ve been able to tell in person have been supportive and are making plans to visit. I’m excited to see what new connections I’ll make on the west coast, what people I’ll be able to meet and partner with who might have otherwise flown under my east-coast-focused radar. I’m filled with joy and anticipation knowing I’ll be just an hour away from the Oregon coast, the place at which my heart feels totally at rest. And I’m so, so happy that we’ll be able to share day-to-day life with my mother and brother.

But the joy and gratitude and overwhelm is tempered by a palpable, sharp grief, at least for now.

If we are east coast friends, I hope we can stay connected in a meaningful way. I hope we can have a meal together when I’m in town and that you will text me West Wing gifs in the middle of the day just because. And I hope you know you’ll always have a place to stay on Corona Street.

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Two Things

1) Today, I pulled a long white hair out of a zit on my chin.
2) Bradley is a mini-Clyde. They are food obsessed, chew on sticks, bark at the tiniest thing, etc. When we toss a tasty morsel of food at Clyde, he snaps it out of the air with precision and speed. When I tossed a sliver of orange at Bradley, it hit her between the eyes, stayed there on the bridge of her snout for a couple of seconds, and then fell to the floor.

Emma (sometime in 2005 we think – October 15, 2013)

IMG_3938Emma.

We knew she was the right dog for our household when she and Clyde met for the first time and she snapped at him when he tried to mount her at the skeevy insurance/dog rescue office where we adopted her. She had been adopted as a puppy and returned to the shelter when she got “too big.” But she was perfect.

Emma  was boisterous and playful. A little instigator, who would drag things off of shelves and counters, only to let Clyde do the eating and take the blame.

She loved toys and she didn’t like to share them. After she and Clyde ripped open their Christmas passages, we would soon hear Clyde whining and inevitably find Emma with a stockpile, either on her bed or in her mouth. I think the most she ever fit in there at once was three giant squeaky toys.Emma on Chair 1 (Jun 25, 2006)

She knew how to make herself comfortable.

She loved to give kisses and sniff our faces. Sometimes she’d follow that with a burp, for good measure.

When she played with Clyde or Bradley and was really into it, she made this high-pitched groaning sound, like she was ululating. It was her expression of joy and it grew to be ours, as well.

She kept a close eye on the trees for birds and squirrels.She was always on high alert for potential yard intruders, and let us know with an insistent bark when something wasn’t right. In true herding dog form, she policed conflicts to ensure that all parties pawed the line, even when the cats tussled upstairs, Emma offered her faithful guidance from one or two floors below.

Emma and Isaiah

When we cried, she licked our tears.

She cuddled, within reason. Eventually she’d just up and leave, heaving herself onto the floor with a sigh. She needed her alone time. But when Bradley laid on top of her for hours on end, or buried in behind her on the couch, Emma was a patient pillow.

Emma was a true lady. Sweet and deeply invested in doing the right thing. She never whined to go out (which we wouldn’t have minded at all) and instead relied on Clyde to whine at us on her behalf when she needed to relieve herself. Even on the table at the vet’s office, before that final injection, she crossed her dainty paws as she tried to relax.IMG_2920

Looking back, we can see that her last few weeks were hard, but we didn’t know she was so sick until that last day, when her face and her labored breathing told us it was time. It was as if she hadn’t meant to intrude on our day, but she needed help that only we could provide.

We will miss you, darling girl. You were an amazing, lovely, sweet, and happy dog. Bradley is doing her best to cheer Clyde up, but you have left a hole in our lives and hearts that will take much time and many tears to fill. We love you, and we will see you again.

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