Yes, this is an especially long post, but I have a lot to say and that I want to share. So, bear with me, if you will. I finally have my writing muse back.
So, after a whirlwind couple of weeks, we finally got everything moved out out of my in-laws house and all our stuff moved in. We still have some work to do around the house, but it was expected when we agreed to rent here, and I'm looking forward to it. I love remodeling houses. I have to wait a little bit longer before I can grab the hammer and paint. That earthquake that hit OKC a few weeks ago? We felt it here. And it knocked a crack in the foundation.
Anyway, two weeks after we moved, we took a family trip to Austin to get my baby sister, Spike, married off to the most wonderful man ever (next to DH, of course.) I volunteered to decorate the cake if she could get someone there to bake and ice it. She found a sympathetic baker in town to help her out (under a budget no less!) and I spent several days going to hobby shops looking for the perfect leaf-shaped cookie cutter and making home made fondant from marshmallows. Of course, nothing was prepared as early as we would have liked, and I spent more than 2 hours on Thursday night coloring, rolling, cutting, and preparing 100 little ivy leaves out of fondant. They were beautiful and tasty and I even managed to get them to the wedding in time and in one pieces (well, 100 pieces, but you get my drift.)
The rest of my Thursday evening was spent dress shopping for the girls who were all part of the wedding party. Spike is the absolute coolest bride ever and was so conscious and gracious to think about everyone else and their budget and time constraints. All the Bridesmaids wore a green dress - whatever style or color they wanted, as long as it was green. Spike also bought the flower girls' dresses for EG (a sensible little frock from a local place) and so I only had to buy a similarly colored dress for LH and TD. I had done the window shopping ahead of time, so all we had to do was go in, try on the right size and choose some shoes to match. This seriously was the easiest shopping trip I had ever taken all three girls on. I had a dress already that had been a gift from my mother, and it was the perfect color, style, and even didn't look horrific on me. All was well.
Friday I packed the car, picked the kids up from school a little early, and once DH wrapped up his half day, we hot the road for the 3 hour trip to Austin.
The trip down there was uneventful, and we made it to town in time for the rehearsal (if not the dinner part) and We checked into the hotel rooms before it was too terribly late. Of course, weddings mean fabulous hair, so Friday evening I got to spend quality time with my niece, Monster, straightening out her hair. This is ALWAYS the highlight of my day, because I LOVE playing with Monster's beautiful, bouncy, curly, hair. Instead of a Bachelorette Party we all got some quality girly time while my other sister, Pookie, put another niece's hair (we call her Awesome) in curlers. My three girls were all bouncy and excited about the wedding and totally wired - until three seconds after the lights went out. Traveling with older kids is SO much easier than when they were babies.
Saturday morning, of course, was when everything took longer than it was supposed to, and everything seemed to be running late, and we thought for sure we wouldn't get everything done in time, but of course it all came together at the last moment. I decorated the cake with the help of Pookie, and it came out beautifully, and was delicious. DH was asked to stand in for the Officiant, and he led the ceremony with every bit of class and poise as he always does. Spike was beautiful, radiant, and happy. The groom, Walrus, was sweet, and humble, and everything I wanted for my baby sister. Mom played a set of songs for the father/daughter dance, the mother/groom dance, and the first couples dance. WP cried, because that's what he does. The grooms mother cried even more, because that's what SHE does. The happy couple whispered and laughed, because that is what THEY do.
After the wedding was over and the mess was cleaned up, we all ate a fabulous dinner at a local taco place and then we retired back to the hotel for some rest for the kiddos and the husbands while the sisters gathered in a separate room for some visiting with our mom. Actually, it was more than just the sisters. My only brother was there, too. He brought his new girlfriend along to the wedding to introduce her to the family and it was just so cool to see him happy and in love and giddy. I didn't hang out with them as long as I wanted to, because I was just too tired, but we did get some awesome shots of the five of us kids together. We haven't all been in the same place at the same time in at least 10 years, so this was a very special occasion.
Sunday, we decided to show the kids around the Capital building, both because its really cool and we wanted to wear them out just a little before the long trip home. Mom and her husband D came along with us and it was really cool for the kids to get to know them and spend a little more alone time with them. We all met at a BBQ place for lunch, swung by Spike's apartment for a few things and hit the road.
It was very bittersweet for all of us. Spike and her Walrus are moving out of state in the next day or so. Right before the wedding, Walrus got a big promotion in another state, and since Spike works for the same company the got her a job too, and paid to move them up there. Instead of a honeymoon on an island, the get to move to Arizona. I'm so happy for them to have great jobs and opportunities like this, but I am so very sad that they will be so far away. I'm very thankful that we were able to all be together for a going away party, of sorts.
Getting to see Mom and D, and WP, and all the sibs was really awesome, and it was really the last good thing that happened. Once we got on the road home, everything seemed to fall to pieces. Two hours into our trip home, we blew tire. Not just a little leak, either. A hole ripped in the sidewall more than six inches long. It must have been something in the road, because shortly after that, we saw four more cars pulled over within a few hundred yards of each other.
Our luck was really mixed up for the rest of the night. We didn't have a spare tire with us, which was bad. WP had left Spike's house a few minutes after us, and so he was able to stop and help us within a few minutes, which was good. He had a spare tire - positive. It didn't fit, and actually got stuck on and nearly ripped off the brake drums - negative. We were stopped outside a small town where my best friend lives, so she was able to direct us to the nearest 24 hour store. WP got me there just before the tire section closed, and they were able to mount the tire within 30 minutes. Then, my credit cards wouldn't work, so I didn't know how to pay for it. (I remembered after that about how my bank is changing ownership and all the new bank info is still packed away in a box somewhere in the new house.) The store took a check - and it cleared the electronic system (thank goodness!) - so we took the tire back to DH and we were back on the road.
Two hours later, we pulled up to the house with all of us looking forward to a snuggle from our doggie and good night's sleep. Unfortunately, this is where the evening went from bad to tragic. We left our dog, RO alone this weekend. He had plenty of food and water, a doggie door to go out, and neighbors to look out for him. We've done it before without issue, and we had no reason to think any different this time.
DH was the first one to get to the front door. From the front seat, I saw him stare at the door, grab something from the note there, and start shaking his head in disbelief. All I could make out was, "Oh God, please no."
There, on the door, was an unsigned note from a neighbor. They had found RO in the road. He had been hit by a car. They went to pull him out of the road, but it was too late. He was already gone. Expired, he said. RO's dog tags were taped to the letter so we would know there could be no mistake. We opened the door, praying it was a cruel prank, but there was no big, black dog there to greet. The house was eerily silent.
DH walked in and got halfway across the room before falling to his knees in grief. He was crying as if his heart had truly been ripped from his chest. The girls gathered around me. They understood that something had happened to RO, but it was left to me to explain just exactly what.
God, I never want to have to do that again.
LH went hysterical and started screaming the dog's name. TD broke down completely, crying for the loss of her fuzzy big brother. EG tried to hold it together, but it wasn't long before she was consumed with grief as well. For a long time we all just sat there, huddled together, crying.
Then the doorbell rang. I was confused at first, until I remembered that Mom and D left from Spike's after us and were coming to stay with us for a few nights before going back home to Ohio. As soon as they came in, I told them what was wrong, and they immediately swooped in and helped. They snuggled up the girls and talked softly to them. D was encouraging one, while Mom held another. I was so stricken, myself, I couldn't even think about what to do. Scott was more distraught than anyone. I let him go for a walk by himself while we all sat there in the living room, just crying and wondering what to do.
It wasn't long before I completely shut down. The roller coaster of the weekend and the shock of finding out about RO by a note on the door had just gotten too much. I sat down on the bed and the next thing I remember, I was waking up and it was three hours later. The kids were still sitting in the living room, but everyone had calmed down and the kids were getting ready for bed. We all decided that they could stay home from school the next day and we finally got them to bed and asleep.
Mom and D went to bed on the fold out sofa-bed. I went to bed on my own. DH, however, stayed up. He decided to go through all our pictures and find all the ones of RO and put them together for a memorial slide show. He was up and down all night. By the time morning rolled around, he ended up calling in to work, as well. Normal things just don't seem possible, yet.
Since last night, we have come a long way in our grief. DH found where RO. was hit and was able to say his goodbyes in his own way. EG spent the entire day writing poetry about losing RO and putting each stanza in a Power point slide with pictures and transitions and everything. TD stayed snuggled up next to Mom or D. LH was on the computer all day and alternated between crying and being angry. This afternoon Pookie came by with her found kiddos, Little Man, Awesome, Good Luck, and Baby Face. Baby Face is only five months old, so all of us took every little chance we could to snuggle with the baby.
Having so many people around might not be what I would have planned for something like this, but it really did help. The kids were able to be distracted and so were the adults. Mom and D were able to be sympathetic without actually grieving much themselves, since they never knew our doggie. Having kids and relatives around was good for everyone and I so very thankful for all of them.
We are getting the kids ready for bed now, and tonight I hope they all sleep well. We have to get back to a regular routine tomorrow, even though no one wants to. Of course, a regular routine feels all wrong. All the little things we have to do now, just seem to drive the knife of grief deeper. We have to cancel the pet insurance plan we had.The doggie door that never really fit the sliding door will need to come out so we can close the door properly and not lose so much A/C out of it. The dog food dish is still full, sitting next to the refrigerator. RO's pile of blankets that he used as a bed is still piled up next to the dining table. I'll have to put those things away, but it just doesn't feel right.
I have never been through this, myself. We had pets growing up, but never for very long, and none of them were lost to this kind of tragedy. Over the last few years, I have witnessed several of my friends lose their beloved pets and I only knew a fraction of the pain they were in. We were just talking about how much we wanted to see RO on the way home, and how we should really get a new friend for him. Now, the thought of any other puppy around here just seems wrong. TD and EG are anxious to get a new pet soon. They are already talking about going to the shelter to rescue another dog and save him from "the pound." It isn't that they want to replace RO. They just love animals so much and our family doesn't feel complete without a puppy. I don't know how soon I can go through all of this again. Bringing another pet home, just knowing that someday we will have to say goodbye like this... I don't know if I will EVER be ready to do it again.
It is still early for bed around here but I'm going to be heading there very shortly. every minute of quiet seems eerie without RO snoring or making noise under my feet. He was my little shadow. Everywhere I went, he was right behind me. As I moved from room to room, he would follow me, lie down, and grumble at me when I moved again. In the last few years, he was really beginning to show his age. He was nearly deaf and I believe he was losing his vision as well. I'm sure whoever hit him never saw the big black dog crossing the street in the dark, and I know he never heard or saw them coming. I keep telling myself that it was a blessing not to have to watch him get older and sicker and begin to lose his senses. It feels wrong to find a blessing in any of this at all.
I want to keep remembering that the whole reason we left this weekend was to see my little sister get married. It just reminds me of how guilty I feel. Somehow, we didn't check the back yard well enough and RO found a hole to get through. Had we been more careful he wouldn't have gotten out and he would never had been hit by a car. How crazy is it that I feel responsible because I would take him for walks around the neighborhood. He got used to going out every night, so when we weren't home, he felt he needed to get out anyway.
I am going to put this to rest for now. If you all are the praying type, send me and my family a few.