Oh Shelby … you never really found your voice OR you just made good choices and never used it but I do miss the silence of our life together. The new little one barks, barks and then barks some more. I remember when I used to have workers or the cleaning person come into my home and Shelby would greet them, tail wagging, eager for love and play and then would go about her business. Not little Miss Jasper Lily … she barks and growls and no matter what – will not relax until she has a pig ear firmly in her mouth (yes, I do realize I am rewarding bad behavior but you try listening to barking for over an hour). It is what moms have to do. I totally get why moms reward kids with candy or toys at the store now. In a heartbeat!
Three years ago this month, Shelby lost her leg. It was the worst of times, the best of times, the hardest of times and I found that strength within that I didn’t know I had. I think the amputation was harder on me – not because I was scared to see what Shelby looked like without a leg – but because I was always worried I would hurt her. I put her in a bubble and carried her up and down the stairs, long after the time she needed to. I tried not to panic and freak the F out the first time she lost her footing and toppled over. I tried not to call the vet every 15 minutes once I brought her home (was definitely unsucessful in that endeavor). Tried to manage the line between tough love and real love. I still remember the 3rd or 4th night that she was home and neither of us had really slept and I had worked all day. I was running on fumes and I needed sleep more than I needed food. I was a single parent trying to do it all. So I shut her out of my bedroom – knowing there was nothing in the house she could hurt herself on, turned on some soothing tunes and prayed for sleep. And we both did. And it became our routine. And then she took over the bathroom as her ‘healing den’ and slowly, our new normal became safer, happier, calmer and more loved.
I miss that sweet girl every single day but I am filled with gratitude this new year … almost to her angelversary in April, the third one. I am struck by how time has moved so fast and so slow at the same time. I am struck by the person I am today and the person I was then. I am amazed by the strength that I have and it was probably always there.
When Shelby passed, my life stopped. Things that I loved seemed less important, friendships, running, eating healthy. I went through the motions in life … I existed to get by. And slowly, things came back into focus but not with the same passion. I started to eat healthier because it was what I had always done. I started to hang out with friends again but it always exhausted me – I preferred the solitude and even more so once I got Jasper. And I began to really run. Not just for fitness but for goals. For me. Because I am worth it. I found a new spin class, new spin studio, new teacher that has inspired, motivated, and challenged me in a matter of months. He has helped me find my value again. I am remember who “Alison” was and who she wants to be.
I am now eating for health. Spending time with friends because I really want to enjoy it. And running because I have a goal. Will I hit that goal this year? Maybe not. Will I run marathon #13? Yes. Because at the core of life … I am worth it. Because at the core of it all, my spirit is back. I have love to give. I have a life to live. And Shelby is never far from my side.
She has been tossing pennies right and left as she watches from over the bridge reminding me that she remains the first and best cheerleader of my life. The non-barking but toughest dog I have ever known. She destroyed countless pillows, curtains, shoes. She challenged my patience. She made me the person I am today.
I will never not miss Shelby. It is a part of my soul and part of who I am. You don’t go through your 20s, then 30s and enter your 40s the same person and not recall who was there the entire time. Friends and boyfriends have come and gone but Shelby’s love for me was always the same and always true. The truest love I’ll never know again but as my bond with Jasper grows, I see there is room in my heart for two great loves. Jasper is learning to love and trust more. Shelby seemed to have that down from day one. Jasper is cautious in her affection and her fun. Shelby gave lovies and always had fun. Jasper is reserved with her smiles and Shelby always had her mouth smiling broadly! Shelby had the best smile, the best snuggles, the best time. Jasper is getting there and I know that as our time grows, our love will as well.
It is a different time. I am older and wiser. I am not sure I would have had the patience for a “Jasper” in my 20s. She needed so much to come out of her shell and I was still a bit selfish. Shelby did right in sending her to me. She gave me a purpose and a focus till I could re-focus on me and remember to love myself.
To give love is to accept love. To love yourself – fully – is the greatest gift one can give themselves and yet one of the hardest ones. This year, 2017, is about love. And peace. And gratitude. Because life is a gift. Our time here is so short … not as short as our furry friends but short. We must continue to make it a life worth living and life that we love.
So thank you Shelby. I honor the greatest love story there ever was … the one that we shared. For 13 1/2 amazing years!!! I love you Shelby Lynne… to the moon and back and for all infinity.