Mom to 13 year old Shelby - Jack Russell/Shiba Inu mix. A rescue dog that was born in New Orleans. Shelby is a spirited, smart and happy little dog who loves to run, play, go to the beach (we live in LA) and ride in the car! She is my best friend and the true love of my life!
My darling Shelby … I miss you SO much. With each month that passes it just means it’s been even longer since I have kissed those velvet ears. I find it odd that I can be two steps forward and three steps back in this journey. I know the grief of your passing is something that I will live with forever. And that is OK. We love hard and we grieve hard.
I was out of town this year on the “Day of the Dead”. I thought about you and wanted to honor you in some way but it wasn’t possible. But know you were in my heart ALL day long!
Right before I went out of town, and had to leave Jasper for the first time (which was the hardest thing I have done in a really, really long time) was so thankful to get the shiny penny from you. And the other coin that we found on our walk. Thank you! Thank you for sending me TWO signs that you were OK and that I was going to be OK (and so was Jasper in her first long boarding situation).
There are so many ‘shoulda, woulda, coulda’ moments that go through my mind. It’s such a waste of energy to live in the past and I strive to live more in the present. Which is why I think leaving Jasper was SO hard on me. I never want to miss one minute of her life as I missed too many of yours as I was learning about myself, growing up and trying to figure out who I was and where I wanted to be in life. I am a work in progress!
We walked down by the beach today. It’s still “our spot” as Jasper tolerates it. She prefers the woods.
And finally, today I was driving home and was behind a car from Tennessee. I rarely notice these things but today I took note. They were from “Shelby”. That was my sign! Thank you my love … I know you are always with me. I strive to do you proud!
I miss you. I love you. I love you to the moon and back and for all infinity! My best girl. The love of my life. My soul-mate. XOXO
Happy Birthday my best girl! You would have been 15 today. Somewhere along the line as you started to get older, I had in my mind that you would live to 15 (not the 13 1/2 you made it too). When you were 8 or 9, people said you were getting to be a senior even though you had showed NO signs of slowing down and still looked and acted like a puppy! I told people, Shelby will live to 15. She’s a little dog and little dogs live longer.
But alas, we all know how the story ends and that we cannot control what the universe has in store for us. So I hope with ALL my heart they are celebrating over the bridge for you today – complete with your tiara and cupcakes and lots of sprinkles and glitter.
Little Jasper looked up at your “shrine” last night and I know she was sending you love and birthday wishes because I know she can feel your presence. I don’t always feel it but I know she does.
But I know you are ALWAYS with me. So I hope you heard me sing to you this morning, and tell you “happy birthday” and that I loved you and missed you.
Enjoy your special day that I had picked for you when you picked me all those years ago … I love you, my little princess… cuddles, snuggles, hugs and kisses … to the moon and back and for all infinity!
I actually had to stop and count on my fingers how many months you have been an angel. I miss you, sweet Shelby Lynne. Every minute of every day. BUT today we celebrate you and your life and your legacy since today is the “8th”.
Thank you for the quarter (you big spender you). I have a little jar with all the items you have sent to me, pennies, dimes, the dollar … I won’t spend them but save them so I can always see how much you love and still think about me. It makes me feel closer to you.
It is your BIRTHDAY month so I hope they celebrate BIG up over the bridge. You always loved your birthday (like your mama). You got a special dinner (sometimes with a candle), lots of presents and lots of cuddles.
I see your beautiful photo on my Tripawds calendar right now… your sweet little smiling face as you balanced so well on three legs. You did SO amazing as a Tripawd. I am forever proud of the strength and courage with which you fought that ugly cancer.
But I miss you – that is the theme that permeates my life right now. I do love the little dog you sent me to bring me smiles instead of frowns and the life that she and I have built together. Sometimes we still act like strangers and two lost souls trying to find our way in this world but then we come together and remember that you put us together because you knew we needed that love and support.
So today, we honor you, little Miss Shelby Lynne and all the lessons about strength, courage and love and living in the moment that you taught us. I strive to remember the happy times. I strive to remember the fun that we had. I strive to never lose sight of the battle we fought and how we beat those odds – if even for one month longer than what they said – we beat them. My soulmate, my angel, the love of my life. You taught me SO much and I feel your paws on my shoulder all the time. I feel your energy by my side and in our home. I love you! I miss you. I honor you.
For the first time in almost 2 years, I laced up my running shoes to run an actual race – not just run on my own for fitness and general health. I haven’t felt the desire to train for anything since my last marathon over 2 years ago. They say when tragedy affects your life, your priorities change. Before Shelby got sick, running was a way of life for me; it was my zen, it was fun, I was always motivated to run faster, further, stronger. I dedicated three marathons, trying to break 4 hours and qualify for Boston. I did it in winter of 2011 and ran the Boston Marathon in 2013. Everyone knows what happened at Boston that year and I was determined to re-qualify to get back there and run that race without the same ending.
But in the fall of 2013, Shelby was diagnosed with cancer and all the training I had done for a fall marathon just kind of fell by the wayside. I didn’t care anymore. I ran that marathon in Salt Lake City but my heart wasn’t in it. I only wanted to get home to Shelby. So I didn’t qualify – I don’t even think I broke 4 hours. I simply didn’t care.
For the next 8 months, I ran to stay fit and to compensate for the wine I was drinking to manage the stress and sadness surrounding Shelby’s illness. While I knew we were beating the odds, I knew deep down our time on earth together was limited.
After Shelby passed, it was almost 2 weeks before I went for a run. It was too much time in my head – alone with my thoughts. Shelby passed on the beach by our home and I couldn’t bear to run past that spot which limited places I could run since I’ve always run by the beach. I could barely make it through a short run without massive crocodile tears and feeling like I would pass out from the crying and emotional pain. Eventually, I got through it and I was able to resume my normal running routine – a couple days a week, no more than 5 – 12 miles at a time and for fitness. No need for speed. No desire to train.
I put together training schedules and lost interest in them all. I am by no means out of shape but I am far from my peak levels of fitness. When did a 14 mile run become so hard? When did it become acceptable for me to bargain my way (in my head) out of running the entire distance I planned to run? When did I become lazy?
Yesterday, to support a friend for charity, I laced up my shoes for a 5K. It’s only three miles (well 3.1) and I run 4 – 5 miles before work a couple days a week so hard could that be? It wasn’t the distance or difficulty level – it was the pride thing. I used to be fast. I used to blaze through a 5K in no time. It’s almost not even worth getting sweaty for less than 25 min. So I went all out. I fired up my legs and said no matter what – I was going to run the whole thing and run it fast. I was going to get it done. And I did. And it felt great. To be surrounded by other runners, competing, racing, running … and for the first time in over two years, I pushed myself and I did it.
I completed the 5K in a little over 22 min and placed 2nd in my age division. (it was a small race). And I felt inspired. I felt like this was something I could do again. I could get this part of my life back.
I know I have a long way to go before I can even thinking of running another 3:35 marathon but that I even want to think abut it is a huge plus.
So I thought about little miss Shelby a lot yesterday. I felt her spirit riding alongside me on the run. I felt connected. And then I had an unsettling dream. I dreamt that Shelby was alive and well but not living with me. She was living with a former acquaintance of mine and she was older and doing well, recovered from her broken leg. I asked if she missed me and thought about me and he said she did. But she saw that I had moved on with Jasper.
My heart broke and I woke up sobbing. It doesn’t make sense. The grief shouldn’t be this intense still. Does my desire to run again mean something? Does having Jasper in my life mean that Shelby thinks I’ve moved on? The mind is the most powerful thing and it can work for and against you. I woke up unsettled and 6 hours later, I still feel “off”. I need my spirit girl to know that she is still the love of my life and her strength DOES guide me daily.
The thing about this journey – while we say the pain lessons – the life we are left with is every changing. I am a work in progress for sure … one step forward, two steps back. Inspired. Hopeful. Optimistic. And still grief stricken…
It’s been a month since I last updated your blog. I miss you. This time of year will always be a bit rough for me since it was when we got the definitive diagnosis of your hemangiosarcoma cancer. I remember when I couldn’t even pronounce this cancer let alone spell it and sadly, it quickly became part of my normal vernacular.
You have been gone 17 months! It feels like a lifetime since I felt and kissed those little velvet ears. I look at photos of you and just miss that sweet little face SO much! You always “got me”. And as time goes by … I realize even more how much the “alpha” in our relationship you were. Little Jasper Lily definitely knows that I am in charge (yet that doesn’t seem to stop her from making some bad choices but she always feels guilty).
Thank you for placing that shiny penny under the rock this weekend. You knew I would find it and think of you! Always sending me money around your angel-versary.
A lot has happened over the past month; as you know we went on the trip up north to Portland and your favorite place, Cannon Beach. It was a great trip and I hope you enjoyed the ride. We thought about and talked about you – a lot! You would have loved that journey.
I am so thankful you found me a great little traveling companion in Jasper Lily. The world would be perfect with the both of you but it has been so much fun getting to know Jasper and seeing her grow. I know you are helping guide her.
It’s almost football season. We LOVED to watch the Saints together. My little Cajun pooch!
There is just so much I always miss about you and how much more healing I need to do … I don’t know that I will ever completely heal and that is OK. I focused last year on Jasper’s issues and getting her to a good place and now it’s time to work on healing me. I moved your photos to one wall and we call it “Shelby’s Corner”. It warms my heart and soothes my soul to look at your corner while I am sitting on the couch.
I am hoping that since last year, I survived all the “firsts” … this year will be easier … I know what to expect, I know what we went through and as much as I do love little Jasper Lily (and I really do), I will always think of my soul-mate, my heart dog, the love of my life!
Mommy misses you … be good sweet girl and remember, I love you to the moon and back and for all infinity!
I miss you, sweet angel. I miss you every day of my life. I wish you could / would visit me in my dreams but you must be busy over the bridge. I found your shiny new penny you left for me last weekend on a long walk with Jasper. It was so bright there was NO way I could miss it. It shines like you always did.
We’re going on a road trip so I’ll be on the road on your angelversary. I remember our road trips. We had SO much FUN! You always were so excited to go. You would embrace each ride in the car with excitement – never fear – even in the end when our trips were more often to the vet.
We would walk, talk (well, mostly me) and relax. I miss those days. Jasper is getting better at the beach. She still is fearful of the car but she’s embracing the coast more and more. But it still is “our” place. I still think about you each time we go down there.
Things have been hard, Shelbs. I feel lost (more than I should) and I don’t know where my place in this world is. I don’t know if I love LA anymore but it is where I said goodbye to you so I don’t know if I can leave. I don’t know if I am strong enough to start over – again. I am getting to old for this but somehow “this” isn’t the life I was meant to live. It simply cannot be. I am definitely more sad than glad most of the time. It has been a rough couple of years and I think that is all wearing me down.
I think if I had you by my side, things would be easier. I adore little Jasper and I thank you for sending her to me. She has come out of her shell and I could not be more proud.
I wish you two had met … I could imagine you two together … you would be the best of friends for sure. You would love and mentor her. She would snuggle up with you. In a perfect world…
Well, my sweet girl, I need to run. You are in my heart … the 8th of every month will always be “Shelby Day”. So … forever and all eternity, I love you to the moon and back and for all infinity. I know you’re coming on the road with us … enjoy the ride and toss me a penny if you have the time. I love you Shelby Lynne!
How is that it’s 15 months and yet it feels like yesterday? And how is that Shelby ALWAYS knows to visit more around her angel-versary?
I found a penny over the weekend … on the beach. Jasper and I were walking and since Jasper usually knows where to turn to go up the hill to our home, I was surprised when she stopped in her tracks and refused to move. Surprised that she wanted to keep walking on the beach that she barely loves (at least not as much as Shelby did). So we keep walking and there it is – a penny – in the sand! Jasper helped guide me to Shelby’s message.
Walking home with the penny firmly in my hand, I swear I felt that paw on my back. And I was just coming off the 4th of July in which Jasper was beside herself and I was missing the days of fireworks when Shelby was fearless and afraid of nothing. Shelby wasn’t afraid of the many vets we visited. She didn’t mind the exams. She took it all like the strong champ that she was.
Then last night I was outside w/Jasper and again, another penny. And then the pennies I found all over the place last week. I feel like Shelby is showering me with pennies… telling me that it is OK and that she is always with me and that she still loves me and that she is OK. She knows how much I miss her and those velvet ears. How much I miss our cuddles, our road trips, our experiences. We had the best life together. And those memories bring me comfort all the time.
I think about the life lessons I have learned from Shelby. About how to be more dog and if you don’t like something, move or change. How every day that we wake-up is a gift. And every day can and should be met with optimism, laughter and joy.
And then I think about what the number 8 means … the 8th of each month will forever be etched in my memory as the day I said goodbye to Shelby. It was also the day she lost her leg. And the day we found out about her cancer. And we took each day with hope, optimism and strength. Because our love will never die. Our love lives on forever – in infinity. Which, if you turn the number 8 around, it is.
So today (and every other “8th”) will be known as “infinity” day. The day that our love shines the largest and our spirits are molded together as close as they possibly can.
I love you, little Shelby Lynne. I talk to you every day. I miss you every day. But I also smile every day for the amazing time we had together. You brought me more joy in our 13+ years together than most people know in a lifetime. I honor your soul, your spirit, your memory in every action, every step, everything that I do.
So today…. on infinity day, remember my special princess that “mommy loves you to the moon and back and for all infinity”.
Oh my sweet Shelby … do you feel how much I miss you? Will June always be the hardest month for us? Will those memories of you breaking your leg ever leave my conscious?
I am so tuned in to how I can “block out” painful memories and yet when I woke up this morning and remembered it was the “8th” and the “8th of June” I was all too aware of what that mean. Two years ago on June 8 you broke your leg and thus began our long journey to where I am today – sitting without the love of my life and my best friend.
Fourteen months ago, you earned your wings. I released your tired body from the fight that you would have fought forever for me and that if money could have cured you, you would have lived forever … but I said goodbye on the grassy park at the beach.
I walked past that park this weekend with the new little dog. I wanted to look for a sign or something from you. There was nothing. But I now realize you were busy over the bridge greeting and getting ready to greet two new tripawd heroes/warriors – Charley and Nixon.
I ran this morning, like I do almost every morning. It clears my mind, sets my intentions for the day and soothes my soul. It’s often dark but I can always see clearly what is in front of me. No matter how much I try to use music to drown out the thoughts in my head, they are still there. I long for a day when I can completely clear my mind of any doubt, regret, pain and just feel joy for the time we had together.
But today, I felt different. I was better able to see what has been hard to see (even though I have said it, I haven’t believed it). That your breaking of your leg was a blessing in disguise. It brought me to Advanced Critical Care. It allowed me to be even MORE connected to what you were feeling (and not feeling) – perhaps that is why I knew instantly something was horribly wrong when your spleen became inflamed and didn’t just say “I’ll wait until the morning”. Maybe that broken leg months before your spleen was removed was our early warning sign that something internally was amiss – even if we didn’t find it. And perhaps, your breaking your leg and my finding this website, this forum, this group of amazing people, was another blessing in disguise.
How could I possibly know that I would need and rely so heavily on people I have never met and dogs that I have never met? How could I possibly know that I would think I could handle the pain alone but in reality, 14 months later, it still hurts like it was yesterday?
The universe works in mysterious ways … I look at photos of you now and sometimes it feels like a stranger looking back at me and I stare, stare, stare and long to feel that connection and other days, it’s like you are still there. I expect to see you when my eyes open in the morning from a deep sleep. I will fight so that your spirit, your memory, you earthly journey lives on forever. I will love you till the day we meet again and then I will love you even more!
I miss you every second of every day …. I think about you all the time and yet I am able to love, laugh and smile …. and I am strong. And that is the final gift that you gave me. I vow every day to count my blessings, be thankful for the time I have here and enjoy everything – I vow to “be more dog”. I love you Shelby Lynne! Always and forever … to the moon and back and for all eternity!
I miss you like it was just yesterday that you left earth. I miss you every second of every day – still. Yet I love, appreciate and find happiness with the “new dog”. She makes me laugh and smile and I feel your spirit pulling further from me and I long to have you come back. I long to have you visit. I long to feel those velvet ears, kiss those sweet cheeks, drink in your senior dog scent. I long for lazy nap filled weekends. I long for our road trips to the beach and wherever. You always loved riding in the car and just “going”.
I long to relive our first days in New Orleans. I don’t long to relive your many ‘bad’ dog moments (trips to the ER for the chocolate, red vines, etc. that you consumed).
I long for the memories to be the present again. I know all to well you can’t “live in the past” or the saying that says “don’t look back, that’s not the way you are going” but looking forward to simply too scary right now. Shelby, I am lost without you by my side. You were the strong one. You were the one that had all the answers.
I don’t know where I want to be. It’s been a long time since I have felt this lost and this incapable of making decisions about where I want to live, work, exist… this life… Shelby… it isn’t working right now and I don’t know how to fix it. So my angel, please send me some strength to make things right. Or some sort of message so that I know that you are OK and that all will work out OK and I will come stronger than ever.
I miss you, my angel. I posted your video a year ago today. I still can’t get through it without massive tears but sometimes a good cry is a healthy way to cleanse the soul. I love you. Please know that I love you more than my own life and I will forever miss you every single day and I long for the day we are together again. And even though I have the new dog that you sent me, we talk about you every single day! Thank you for helping guide her to be a “good girl” and leave all the “bad dog” things in your court!
I don’t even know how to start this post. I cannot believe an entire year has gone by since I last felt those velvet ears against my face. Listened to that soft snore. Snuggled up with the love of my life. Kissed that face, those paws, that booty…
It’s been a long year. It’s been a challenging year and I have felt the inner strength of Shelby time and time again. When I didn’t want to go on, I felt her angel paws pushing me forward.
It was a long summer … filled with happy new memories but still that bittersweet ache of missing beach time, happy hour time, late night cuddles. Summer also brought a new fur-baby home to get to know and to love (something I struggled with and still do on occasion).
Fall came quickly and I survived the first anniversary of what would have been her 14th birthday – October 15. I celebrated with cake and wine and in true Shelby fashion, glitter and tiaras!
Fall also brought the memories of extensive ER visits, the cancer diagnosis, our last trip to Santa Barbara, chemotherapy visits… It was also mixed with the celebration of a marriage of two of my dearest friends and a nice long trip to Seattle over Thanksgiving with the new fur-baby.
Winter came with the first Christmas without Shelby – desperate to create new happy memories and rely on Shelby’s strength, I put up a mini tree for the first time in years. Santa Photos at Petco simply were not the same without the beautiful outfits and doggy antlers.
January marked what would have been Shelby’s one-year ampuversary. I couldn’t believe a whole year passed. So much felt different and yet so much felt the same.
As I relived the past four months of her life as a Tripawd, I felt her guiding me, directing me, healing me… Shelby comes to me in my dreams. Not as much as before but definitely often. I feel her sitting next to me on the couch or on the bed. I know it is her and not the new fur-baby since I can see the new fur-baby on the other side of the room. I feel Shelby’s spirit in our home daily and I know the new fur-baby feels it to. Thankfully it spooks her less and she growls less.
Some days the waves of sadness are over-powering, still, after a year. I think about Shelby the most when I am alone in my car. I talk to Shelby every single day. She is the first thing I think about in the morning and the last thing at night. I know she hears me talking to her. Sometimes when I am sleeping so soundly, I wake up and am startled to see the new fur-baby and not Shelby on the bed.
I am thankful that Shelby guided me to my new fur-baby, Jasper Lily. Her little antics and quirks brought laughter back into my life. Her willingness to accept and love me – with all my baggage – warms my heart and soul. Dogs love without abandon and it is a trait I desire to have. There will never be another “love of my life”. There doesn’t need to be. When you’ve had the greatest love and spent 13+ years with your soul mate… how can anything possibly get better?
I do cry less … maybe not every day. I have given myself a full year to grieve and take in all the emotions that come with grief – the highs and lows.
Last week, I was on vacation in Cannon Beach, OR at our family’s cabin. When I lived in Seattle, it was the location of many weekend get-aways with Shelby. So to honor her and the love we both have/had for the beach, I brought some of her ashes with me. I waited till the tide was low and walked out to a rock. I said a simple good-bye and told her how much I loved her and missed her. As I opened the bottle, filled with her remains, I struggled to keep myself composed, reminding myself that this was just a shell; that her true spirit lives within me every day. As I set her free, I watched her ashes float away from me but slowly. As if they didn’t really want to leave but knew they had to begin their new journey. The very next day, I found a single pink shell on the beach. The only whole shell I found the whole trip. It was from Shelby.
I have given myself this year to grieve, the mourn, to feel every bit of the pain associated with such tremendous loss. I have been guided by the universe and Shelby. I know that we have experienced all the ‘firsts’ and that time will move on, as it has. My heart and life will never be the same. My eyes are still terribly sad when you look deep into them, all the little tear lines remain (although I’ve been told they are starting to heal). They are my badge of honor. They remind me of the price we pay for loving so hard.
I have no regrets when it comes to our cancer journey. I have made peace with the self-doubt and questioning of my choices. I know that I released Shelby in the right fashion when she made it crystal clear to me. I can look back on her photos of our last 48 hours together and finally see it … see what I couldn’t see at the time … that she was sick and her body was tired and she was ready to be released. I could see what the doctors who lovingly guided me to the final decision could see when I could not.
Our story doesn’t end though … not today, 4.8.15, a year after her soul left earth. It just began it’s new chapter. Because a love like ours has no ending … a love that is true and real and filled with such intensity never leaves the soul. We remain #shelbystrong
I love you, Shelby Lynne, to the moon and back and for all infinity. I miss you my sweet angel and I know you will always remain by side, when I need you most. I thank you, forever, for the gift of strength, compassion and kindness. Forever in my heart, the love of my life. I thank you for the most amazing, wonderful, spirited 13 1/2 years we shared together. And I know our eternal souls will meet again.