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Mom2Shelby

34 Months an Angel and too many months my guardian angel

This is Shelby’s blog but today I want to write about my other angel – my original guardian angel. My daddy passed away 20 years ago today. Twenty years. I need to let that sink in for a little bit because it seems to surreal.

What was I doing 20 years ago? Well I was just 22 years old, having graduated from college the prior May, moving back to Seattle because my father was in ill health from the cancer. We didn’t know how much time he had left but I knew I had to be where he was.

The back story: 

My father was diagnosed with aggressive brain and lung cancers when I was 15 years old. I was in high school and scared to death. Teenagers didn’t deal with death or sick parents. My dad was only 48 years old. He was given one year to live. We started fighting the tumors and the cancer with with radiation and chemotherapy. Treatments back in the 90s were not as advanced as they are today so the memories I have of my father are being sick, tired, in pain. But my God he was a fighter. He was going to fight that cancer with everything he had. And he never, ever, complained.

And so I grew up pretty quickly. My mom, bless her heart, still had to raise me me (very strong-willed as I am today) and became an instant caregiver to her ailing husband. We were a family and we were ALL IN to fight. And we fought in some of the same ways I fought Shelby’s cancer – with positive energy, positive thoughts, and hope. In fact, I recall when going through Shelby’s treatments and vet visits, having flashbacks to what my father and our family went though – in and out of hospitals, doctors visits, medications on a schedule.

And that one year came and went and dad was still with us. He started to get better but the cancer never fully went into remission. We watched it and fought it was it came back in the esophagus.  That was removed and the treatments began – again. My daddy’s body was tired and he was aging but he was still fighting and had the same sense of humor he always had. And the same love for his family. The cancer was a bit dormant for several years and then a fall down the stairs (most likely triggered by a seizure) landed my father in the hospital unconscious. I don’t recall if it was a coma or not but it was serious enough for me to fly home from college.  It was the start of my last semester at college. My dad woke up to the sound of my voice and my touch but he was far from well. At the urging of my mom and family, I went back to college to finish. It was what my dad would have wanted.

My dad recovered – sort of – from the head trauma and while recovering, we discovered the lung and brain cancers were back. This part of the story is a bit fuzzy for my memory as I think my mom tried to shield me from the dark news in order to allow me to focus on my education. When graduation was coming up, it was apparent my father might not be able to travel to see me graduate. I didn’t want to walk at my own graduation. I just wanted to get home to my dad. But a friend of ours agreed to travel with my mom to assist with my father. For that I am forever grateful because my father, ill as he was, was able to see me get my college degree. Something he himself did not have even though he went on to be a high level executive. He was so proud of me. He was always SO proud of me! It would be the last milestone in my life that he would witness.

After graduation, I moved back to Seattle. My dad was still declining in health but fighting hard. But come January of 1997, days after his 55th birthday, things changed for the worse. Within weeks my father was in the hospital, then hospice (where I remained in constant denial about what was happening). And then, on February 7, 1997, my father took his last breaths surrounded by his family and his dog.

Life after death:

To say I was forever changed is an understatement. I was 22 years old – barely an adult. Barely a plan in the world for my life and I got thrown into adulthood really quickly. I had to make adult decisions. My mom did the bulk of the work but I still had to be present and aware. I spent days, weeks, months in a deep depression. I would cry. I was so angry. I turned my back on those close to me. Life was unfair. I wished, on more than one occasion, for the universe to take me too.

See, my dad was my hero. I was the quintessential “daddy’s girl”. I am an only child and I was the apple of his eye. I am of course very close my mom but there is nothing like a girl’s relationship with her daddy. My daddy and I had the best adventures, the private jokes, secrets shared. My dad wrote me notes and letters while I was at college telling me how proud he was of me, how much he loved me. I have all those letters saved.

I am going to be 43 years old at the end of this month. It is a very real reality that I am 5 years shy of how old my father was when he got sick. But I am also very aware that I have a very healthy mom and other longevity in my family. I work hard to be healthy – not only because I live in LA and it is what we do – but to live a long and healthy life. I don’t need to know what caused my dad’s cancer (was it the smoking, the time on a Navy boat with atomic waste, environmental factors???).

Twenty Years Later:

I would like to think my daddy is proud of the woman I have become. I fight for what is right. I fight for those that cannot speak. My father was nice to everyone – no matter who they were. He volunteered at a soup kitchen. He gave back to his church and his community. He was the dad that other girls wanted to be around because he was so inclusive. I would like to think that part of my dedication to a career in philanthropy stems from the examples I witnessed growing up.

I love my dog(s) with my entire heart. My daddy also loved his dogs … his dogs (and me) were his everything. I would like to think he kept Shelby as safe as he could for as long as he could before she went to join him. I like to think that he was there to greet her and help her find her new way. It was in the darkest times when I lost Shelby, I was able to find comfort in knowing in my heart they were together. But it was a familiar journey through grief and with age, I was better able to process and work through my grief. It was not easy. But I knew deep in my heart, I had done it before and I could do it again and I had two angels keeping an eye on me this time.

I will forever miss my father. Like I will forever miss my sweet Shelby. But I will always try and be grateful for what they brought into my life … how enriched my life was because they were in it. The memories fade … I don’t have all the details of our life together but I can always look at the below photos and I can feel and remember the connection.

Forever in my heart … Sam … 1941 – 1997. 

The 80s! A girl with her daddy and her dog!

Daddy with baby Misty (probably the 80s)

Family! 1991 or 1992

When Daddy drove out my new car to college (1994).

Our 2nd to last Christmas. 1995

Me and Dad at my college graduation in 1996

Me and Dad at my college graduation in 1996

 

 

Comments (6)

Shelby … the most unbarking dog – ever!!!

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.

Day 3 home from her amputation … she finally rests!

Carrying her has done amazing things for my biceps! 🙂

Please notice the shredded curtains (Shelby’s fine work).

Baby Shelby!!!

Snuggles .. the best .. ever!

Comments (3)

Happy Birthday over the Bridge

Shelby would have turned 16 today. Able to drive but we all know she was always the driver in our relationship!!! I miss that sweet girl so much. Last year I remember writing a blog about how in my mind, I always thought Shelby would make it to 15 and she did not (she passed at 13 1/2)… young and old at the same time. As I look back on her photos of her amazing life, her travels, her journeys… I can finally see how she aged. When we were together, time stood still. I never saw the grey in her face or the crows feet on my eyes. I never saw anything other than “just in the moment” until those moments became precious and I spent each day of her illness wondering “is today the day”?

And today, I can look back, finally and on most days, and remember the good (when I can remember anything at all – my brain seems use some coping mechanism to block out anything that it perceives as painful). But I am staring at Shelby photos today … willing her to be real again in my eyes.

I am hoping for a sign of some sort but I am sure she is being festive over the bridge with her new pals… those that joined before us and those after. I know Shelby is the welcome girl – with her tiara and always willing to sniff a butt to make a new friend.

Shelby was the kindest, most gentle dog you would ever meet. She loved people and dogs alike. She feared almost nothing. She radiated joy. She was always happy! From day one … when I met her at the shelter, she embraced me with a hug and a tail wag and begged me to bring her home. We had many adventures … not as many as I would like since we discovered the joy of traveling together later in life but we made those trips count. To the wineries, the beach, coffee shops, just out for dinner. I loved spending time with Shelby!

So happy birthday my best girl, the love of my life, my soul mate and heart dog … I will definitely toast in your honor later! I miss you forever and love you to the moon and back and for all infinity!

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Our first outing … “Yappy Hour” … Shelby always let me hold her like a baby!

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Just love … at the dog beach! One of our favorite places!

Shelby Boa-05_2 (1)

Mommy … is green my color?!

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Oh mommy… but why? Why, why, why??

Baby Shelby ... her first day home.

Baby Shelby … her first day home.

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this face!!! This is the face I fell madly in love with over 17 years ago and who rescued me!

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I can’t even tell if this is a Tripawd Shelby or not but either way … this was our life … toys, more toys and fluff!

Comments (7)

29 months an angel

WOW … it’s been a couple months since I’ve updated Shelby’s blog. And it’s not for not missing her but rather being worried about saying the same thing over and over. How much I miss those velvet ears. Miss that cute and curious face. Miss our snuggles, cuddles, adventures, laughter and tears. Shelby was the ultimate in what a soul-mate should be. She was always up for an adventure, she lived like a dog – truly in the moment, every day. She was SO happy. I swear she smiled and laughed. It was a simpler time when I adopted Shelby as a young 20-something. I never thought our story would ever end. Three years ago this month, Shelby got really sick. We got the diagnosis we didn’t want to get. Hemangiosarcoma. One of the ugliest and most aggressive cancers out there. One to two month survival. Chemo would maybe buy us a month.

We got EIGHT more amazing months together. My fighter girl. She took her chemo like a champ. And in the middle of all this, we finally amputated that broken leg that never seemed right again.

Shoulda, coulda, woulda… I work SO hard each day to not live with this in the back of my mind.  Some days are harder than others.

Lately, I have had a really hard time with not having Shelby in my world. The last couple of weeks have been really tough; maybe it is summer coming to an end, coming off the vacation with the sidekick and knowing how much Shelby would have loved that particular adventure, processing some underlying guilt about my life with Shelby and how we never did enough until it was too late. How I wasn’t always there for her in my desire to “hit the town” and “have a life” and she was always patiently waiting at home. I am beating myself up SO much and over-compensating with the sidekick in that I rarely go out so I don’t waste one precious minute of her life.

Shelby tossed me a shiny new penny and dime a couple weeks ago on my run. It’s been a while since she has sent me a sign so I know she knows and feels how much I am missing her. They say the pain comes in waves and oh my goodness is that true. I haven’t felt this kind of pain in my heart since Shelby passed. It has been hard for me to be supportive and a valuable member of this community that I love so much because my grief is back and it is raw again.

I know this too shall pass… as well as I know that Shelby really comes to me when she knows or sees that I am struggling with something. It is the price we pay for loving so hard. I also feel memories of Shelby slipping away and that pains me as well. There are days I can stare deep into her eyes in the many photos I have or watch the limited videos I have of her and she feels like a stranger. It is hard to explain but I also have this same challenge with memories of my father that passed away almost 20 years ago. I guess it is how my brain and heart choose to cope with the pain but it seems truly unfair to me. I want to remember more of the good and less of the bad and for some reason, the bad is was pushes to the forefront. Perhaps because I truly am a “glass half empty” kind of girl!

All I know today … on her angelvesary day … is that I miss her SO terribly much. I miss a simple time. I miss the innocence of our youth. I miss who I was.

I love my little sidekick – more than I know what to do with – but I also fear for the day that she and I have to say goodbye and she gets to meet her big sister in heaven. But I know that love lives forever in my heart. That love never dies. That true love, the once in a lifetime love that I had with Shelby, is eternal. Still the love of my life, my soulmate, my best friend. I miss you sweet Shelbs… don’t be a stranger! Mommy needs you!

Beach Girls Always!

My silly girl!

Who Dat!?! Geaux Saints!

Comments (6)

26 Months An Angel

And two years since Shelby broke her leg and our journey began …

Oh June … will I always hate you? Will I always hate the reminders and the guilt that I STILL sometimes feel about how Shelby broke her leg? How I go back and forth (STILL) second guessing the choices that I made about her leg (fix or keep, cancer or not cancer)? I don’t know. I do know that I will do my best to honor and celebrate her life on the 8th as I do every month since we are bound for infinity.

And I will try and reconcile that you don’t visit as often since you are busy playing, being healthy and strong, over the bridge. I know you keep an eye out on the little sidekick and probably roll over laughing at her antics. She is a silly one for sure.

I miss ALL the fun we had!  Shelby was always up for a good time; that smile of hers was infectious. She was always such a happy dog and loved riding in the car (I miss that… I really do – Jasper hates the car  no matter what). Shelby always wanted an adventure! And she got them. Beach trips. Road trips. Just because trips! We had the best time – always!

I miss how things were easy and we really did live in the moment until we had to stop and think about things and look forward into the future – the great unknown. Now all my days are spent thinking about the future and not living in the moment. What will tomorrow bring? Will it be good? Will it be bad? Constant state of chaos sometimes.

I miss the days of me and my BFF… my best girl, the love of my life. I miss those simpler times SO much. Sometimes more than others. As much as I miss Shelby (and I do – every day of my life) I also miss the life that I used to have. Grief changes you and while they say you can’t go backward, sometimes moving forward is just as hard. Because if you can stay right where you are – you can sometimes maintain that comfortable “numb” feeling. It becomes your new reality and your fear of moving past because things could be worse (or they could be better but it is not worth the risk) holds  you back.

But that is not a life and I try and channel my “inner Shelby” and work through the challenges … With my best girl as my angel co-pilot and the little sidekick that tries to make me smile (and always succeeds) daily. Over two years an angel and some days I feel like I have not moved an inch in the forward direction but I have. I allowed love back into my heart again (albeit only in canine form) and I try and get out of my comfort zone from time to time. I feel Shelby’s spirit guiding me.

Until we meet again my sweet angel … and I can kiss those velvet ears! I love you to the moon and back and for all infinity!

 

Comments (7)

25 months an angel

Dear Shelby,

Today is your angelversary. I was going to try and be brave and not do a blog but you’ve been on my mind – a lot – lately. I guess I’ve been missing you a lot.

As you know, Elvis crossed the bridge late last month. I know you were there to welcome him. His mama is having a really hard time (like I did) so make sure to tell Elvis to send her lots and lots of signs like you did for me.

Today is Mother’s Day. I was always ambivalent on being a mom to human kids but fur-babies … that I always knew would be part of my life. I guess I just never anticipated what my life would look like when you passed. That thought never occurred to me and I think our life was full of so much bliss, adventures, free-spiritness … We never thought our time would end. I never thought there would be a day when I wasn’t your mom with you by my side. I know I am fur-ever your mom and you will always be my “first born” but it’s different with the new dog. She tries SO hard and I do love her very much as she was a hand-picked gift from YOU but she isn’t you. And I know she will not outlive me. And that scares me. That I will have to go through that raw, unrelenting, forever pain… again.

Everything I learned about being a mom, I learned from you. You taught me to love unconditionally, play lots, laugh lots, smile lots and be selfless. Being a mom is the hardest job in the world – especially when your child can’t speak or tell you what hurts but you did your best to always communicate that to me and you trusted me with your life. For that I am forever grateful. I knew when you looked into my eyes, you knew how much I loved you and how I would always be there for you. My hope is that little Jasper gets there some day.

I miss you Shelby Lynne! I saw a penny at the store today and knew it was for me. Thank you for the signs … when I need them the most. There is nothing like a mothers love for her child … that is the gift you gave me … yesterday, today and tomorrow.

I love you Shelby Lynne!

Your mommy … always and forever!

Snuggles and kisses!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our first outing as a family! Best day ever! I loved how Shelby would let me hold her like a baby!

My girl wasn’t feeling great here but she knew her mommy loved her and was there for her.

Paws and feet … together forever!

Comments (7)

4.8.14 – 4.8.16: Two Years An Angel

Two years. Twenty four months. Two winters, two springs, two summers, two falls. It just seems unfathomable to me. It is crazy how time moves so fast but moves so slow at the same time. I miss Shelby every day with every fiber of my being but life is less sad, less heartbreaking, less lonely. I do have the sidekick but I also have more peace.

Pam (Harmony’s mom) posted on the forums today about the chaos that cancer brings us and then the catastrophic stop to our journey when our fur-baby loses their cancer battle. I think that most accurately describes the journey with me and Shelby.

In the past two years, I have had plenty time to process, remember (more than I ever wanted to) every second of our cancer journey. It was indeed chaos. From the day Shelby broke her leg, our life really was forever changed even though we didn’t learn of the cancer for three more months. As a mom, I knew something was terribly wrong but since we  didn’t find the cancer then, I didn’t want to believe it. I have spent close to 2 years beating myself up for “shoulda, woulda, coulda” about that damn leg. Did I make the right decisions to plate not amputate? Did I wait too long once we found the cancer? Did I make a bad decision? Those questions can rock a person at their very core and cause the worst case of doubt and insecurity that filters into their normal life.

My life was on hold during our journey – I forgot how many events/ invitations / emails I turned down or ignored. My entire focus was Shelby and helping her heal while that evil cancer was fighting hard to take her from me.

And when she lost her battle – in what felt like a matter of 72 hours – we went from fine to not fine to really super not fine – I felt like I  had been hit by a train. And what was left was the dissolution of my former shell. Who was I without Shelby? What did that world look like? How could I go on?

How did I go on? I just did. I took each moment of each day by each second. I relearned to breathe. I still find myself holding my breath so hard as to not shake the balance of my life.

And then I was guided to the sidekick. And as we all know, love didn’t come easy for either of us. And I felt myself protecting her in ways I did with Shelby in the end. Putting her in a glass bubble as to try and make sure she was never injured, hurt, sick. The journey of cancer is never predictable and for someone who prides themselves on having a routine, that can throw a person’s whole world so out of whack, you think it will never level out again.

But here we are … two years have passed. While I cry less, I don’t love any less. I try and always remember the little things about Shelby that brought me so many smiles. We had such an easy love. There was never a question about our love story. It was just us. I find myself fiercely protective of her all the time but I defend our love less because I feel more secure. I know I did all that I could for her and she wants me to love and to smile and to be happy. That’s why she sent the sidekick.

Two years is a very long time but when I look back to where I was a year ago or even a month ago, I can see how far my grief process. I changed – 100% I changed. My appearance, my personality, my outlooks on life … but the core that is “ME” is still there. And the love and trust and compassion that I once had is coming out again. I know I will continue to heal. I know that my heart will continue to be open to give and receive love because I am guided by the spirit of Shelby.

In a perfect world, I would have the sidekick and Shelby by my side … but life is not perfect. Life is a process, a dance, a journey – not a destination. And when I get to that destination, that is the Rainbow Bridge where Shelby will leap and bound and jump into my arms and let me know that I am home. And I will hold her tight and never, ever let her go again.

So my darling Shelby … thank you for sending me love, light, energy every day for the last two years. I might update your blog a little less as my heart needs to open itself up for other things but know that I always love you and you are always with me. The 8th of each month will always be our day … because we are bounded by infinity. I love you, my sweet angel, my first baby, the love of my life, my best girl, forever in my heart and for all infinity.

My mom had this orb made for me. It was made with Shelby’s ashes in her signature purple!

Love this face so much! This was her “play with me mommy” face.

Mommy was injured and no running allowed but we could hike so we did!~ Taking a rest with my best girl. God I love that little face.

At this point, we had taken so many selfies… people started to think we looked the same! She was beautiful so I didn’t mind!

Beach girls .. always and forever!

Patient dog… she rocked the tiara – always!

Laughing girls~ Shelby was always smiling, always laughing, always happy!!!!

She loved all her toys! She was so spoiled and it showed.

Comments (11)

23 months an angel

WOW … just wow. How did we get to 23 months; almost 2 years? Where has the time gone my sweet Shelby? I miss you but you know that. You visit MUCH less. You send less signs. I think you know I am doing better. Almost 2 years and that sparkle has come back to my life, that will to live has come back, the sidekick brings more joy vs guilt. Life moves on. Yet life stands still.

Death and grief are a funny thing. You realize how strong and weak you are all in the same. I just got over the flu and it was a doozy! I remember how you were the best nurse. You just rested with me. And we had snuggles. And it was great for healing. Nothing like a dog’s love.

You were the mom sometimes … even when I had to be the mom and be brave, you were always the brave and strong one. You guide so much of what I do to this day.

I feel more of a peace in knowing that you are my angel … I wish you were still here – in a perfect world – but knowing you keep me safe and keep a watch out for me soothes my heart. As each new soul here earns their wings, the memories of your passing come back fresh and raw. But I wouldn’t change one day of our life together for anything. We did everything we needed to do when we needed to.

I feel less guilt about the things we didn’t do now. I know that our entire life together prepared me for the life I am living now. It isn’t a perfect life but it’s a more peaceful life than it was last year at this time.

There is a degree of sadness that surrounds me at all times and I assume that eventually will fade as it already has. I love to look back on our photos of all the great times we shared … our Santa Barbara trips were the best. I wish I had the courage to go back since it’s a beautiful place and one that brings me peace AND joy but I’m not ready. It was our place and our first vacation and our last vacation together. But these photos from spring break years ago are able to bring smiles instead of tears and for that, I celebrate your day.

I miss you my sweet angel … love of my life … soul mate ….  always and together and for all infinity. Don’t be a stranger! Mama misses and loves you!

At the wineries … one of my favorite photos of Shelby!

Snuggles! At our dog friendly hotel!

Shelby got her sea-legs!

One of my most favorite photos of me and Shelby – ever! I have this framed in my office at work.

Comments (7)

22 Months an angel

Another angelversary? Oh Shelby Lynne…. where has the time gone!?! You visit me so much less. But that doesn’t make me miss you less!!!

February will always be a double shot of grief since Feb 7 is the day that my darling daddy passed away from a long battle with cancer as well. This year was 19 years since he had passed. That seems unfathomable to me. I was a baby when he passed – only 22. I couldn’t even wrap my head around what that meant. And like the grieving process with Shelby, I just kind of became a zombie for years. As I get further away from his passing and further from Shelby’s, I do see a lot of similarities in that grief process. I have experienced romantic heartbreak but nothing compares to the loss of someone you love, admire, respect and strive to be more like – both my father AND Shelby. Neither let their disease define them – in part, some could argue that Shelby was a dog and didn’t know but I don’t really believe that. I believe with my heart and soul that Shelby knew something was wrong but she fought hard and strong since she knew she had to get me to a place of true strength. And when it came down it, I didn’t feel strong at the time, making those end of life decisions for her, but in retrospect, it was the strongest I had been in a long time.

So on Shelby’s day (the 8th) and on Daddy’s day (Feb. 7), I take a lot of comfort in thinking they were together. My daddy LOVED animals – so much so. We always had dogs growing up and in the end, his dogs were of great comfort to him while I was away at college. They were a perfect pack. Kind of like the pack I am creating with Jasper Lily, in that I much prefer to spend time with her other than humans.

Daddy and Shelby also LOVED the beach so to honor them, we went to the off-leash dog beach (forcing Jasper to embrace the beach lifestyle which she doesn’t love but humors me). Jasper had a blast! Divine intervention?!? I think yes.

My daddy loved the beach, the sea, the water … he was a Navy man back in the day. And I remember, as a child, romping around the beach with my parents and the dogs at our beach home. The beach life is in my blood, in my soul.  I am so grateful to live near the beach now.

And Shelby … she loved the beach too. I think she liked to have the fresh air in her nose. She always perked up at the beach – even when she wasn’t feeling the greatest after her chemo, she would definitely get a little boost from our beach time. The Long Beach dog beach was one of the best things that Shelby and I discovered while she was still healthy.

And so it made sense that I would honor them both yesterday with a trip to the beach (along with the new sidekick).

Happy Angelversary you two… I hope you are celebrating together and I know you both watch over me (and the sidekick) all the time. I love and miss you both – always and forever – to the moon and back and for all infinity!

Mother’s Love

Beach therapy!

Pre- cancer … Shelby at the dog beach!

Me and my daddy … Christmas 1995 – our 2nd to last Christmas together. I love and miss this man SO, so much! He was my hero – always

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21 Months an angel

But heck… who’s counting?!? I cannot believe it. Two years ago today I had dropped my sweet angel off to remove that tired old leg and we began our journey as a tripawd. And became introduced to this amazing community. I can still remember, being new, being petrified, already battling cancer (we kind of did things backward in removing the spleen first, starting chemo and then finally taking the tired leg). This community – I cannot state this enough – is amazing. You all embraced us. Talked me through the highs and lows of the surgery day (we had lots of complications and almost didn’t amputate). And calmed me while Shelby was under the knife.

You celebrated with me, read through my rambling stream of consciousness posts and helped me remember that I was doing this FOR Shelby and that I was a GREAT dog mom and I had more strength in me than I thought.

And thus… here we are today. Celebrating ‘Shelby / infinity’ day. As someone shared with me… an eight on its side is infinity and that is the love that Shelby and I have forever. The pain has definitely gotten less. It is still very real and I still talk to Shelby every single day. I still wait for signs that she is with me.

We got two signs over the last couple of weeks. One, at my mom’s house, my mom brought me a heart charm she had found on the floor and asked if it had fallen off one of my earrings. It was not mine and my first thought – it’s from Shelby. Now admittedly, my mom supports and loves me to the moon and back but I also think she thinks I am a little nutty when it comes to these signs. But just the night before, there was absolutely NO explanation for my mom being awakened by rattling chains … see that as you may but I believe Shelby was visiting in the wee hours of the night and only my mom heard her.

Then as soon as we arrived home from our trip, I noticed the new little dog licking something on the floor. Never knowing what is in her mouth when I can’t see it, I reached for her and it was the little coin with three paws that the Tripawds had sent to us after our first Tripawd Foundation donation. There is NO way Jasper could have reached that as it’s on Shelby’s shelf so I can only assume, in true Shelby form, she tossed it on the floor for me to see. As she did with the Christmas ornaments earlier in the holiday season by having 3 jingle and rattle and fall to the floor.

It doesn’t scare me to have the ghost of Shelby in my space. In fact, I love having her there.

I am only sorry that Shelby’s earthly story ended four months after her amputation.  But her story didn’t end there. I truly believe it continues on today; in me, in Jasper, in the life we live. We honor Shelby everyday. We talk to her. We visit her favorite places.

And the bonds … the friendships, the lifelines I have made through this wonderful community. Some days it is so hard to log-in, not knowing what has happened overnight but then I see that we have lots to celebrate. There is so much joy that can and does come from so much sadness.

Shelby did a really great job – protecting her mommy – looking out for me over the bridge, knowing when to visit, sending me Jasper to love. I never thought I would love again after Shelby. I really didn’t. I knew I would have a dog again since that’s who I am but the love and the bond that Jasper and I have formed … thank you my sweet angel girl. You sent me a pretty and photogenic girl, who loves to travel, who is 50 shades of crazy, who has unpacked her baggage in my heart and my home – all the while honoring you.

I love you Shelby … to the moon and back and for all infinity!

Basking in the sunlight after a hike in the hollywood hills (2013)

Mommy went on vacation and all I got was this lousy boa?!? (2013)

First night home after her amputation. Jan 2014

Did someone say dinner?!? A couple hours post-amp and look who was hungry?! So proud of my best girl. January 2014

Honoring Shelby in one of our favorite parks in Seattle. December 2015.

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