In this post we will attempt to do something we have never done before. We will merge our two voices. Our voices are so very different at times and yet our thoughts can be very similar. I think it is the pulse and resonance of our individual voices that really set us apart. I suppose you could say I am her sweet as she is my savory. Very different but I hope meaningful to each to our own.

Life Is Change

Without pauses in the rush to get things done, sometimes we don’t allow ourselves time or perspective to reflect, grow, to evolve past the busyness… to appreciate the moment. Last month we were forced to pause, to stop, and say goodbye for the second time in four months to a family member, a soul we have loved deeply, cared for, laughed with, cried for. Some say that our furry friends don’t laugh, but I would disagree. I have felt a bubbling warmth through a doggy grin, a wagging tail, slurping kisses, and playful grunts and growls as heartfelt as any human belly laugh. Recently we said goodbye to our sweet Guinness followed by our big red guy Foster, souls as big as any being we have ever known.

Foster and Guinness in the spotlight

The emptiness we have in our hearts is hollow, quiet, and still. There is not a day that goes by where I don’t feel a lump in my throat and a longing for something that we know will forever be missing.

We will be writing the next chapter of our story within a household that isn’t graced by their presence, who have warmed our hearts, our lives, and our home for so long.

Guinness, in her younger years, before the gray

 

 

 

The Dogful Years

The previous chapter, the dogful one, was pretty long – it started in 2004, the year we got married. 2004 was full of so many promises that would bear fruit for years to come. It was filled with warm laps, food-free floors, furry blankets, loyalty as thick and sweet as honey, and pure companionship. As with many relationships, it was also forged and tempered in the fire of challenges. It was filled with lots of vet visits, cone heads, stomachs pumped, surgeries, and worrying while they spent time in animal hospitals. To offset that, they made us laugh so often, with honks and snorts, and provided enormous heartwarming comfort with their morning huggies.

Foster and Guinness teaching Ethan how to go outside

When we embarked upon these dogful adventures all those years ago, we never expected how those fur babies would impact and enrich our lives for years to come. We feel their loss now with the simplest reminders that follow us through our home-like shadows that are so close but without substance, untouchable, empty. We no longer take strolls around the courtyard or sit down on the couch in the evenings to spend time with Foster and Guinness in our laps. Their blankets are gone where they were once heaped on the couch, nor is there a fluffy bed in front of the fireplace. Sometimes we even miss the noises of elderly dogs that would invariably wake us up in the middle of the night. That light has faded from our lives but not our thoughts, our memories. At times I can almost sense them if I close my eyes and reach out with my heart. It is still too soon and the loss is painful yet bittersweet. Bitter for the loss, and sweet to know they will suffer pain no longer, they are free.

Foster soaking in the sun

With their memories tucked close to our hearts, it is our new adventures that carry us forward.

The New Norm

This change in family makeup forced some much-needed reflection. There are new pages before us, some we have outlined in pencil as they are still in the making, some we have scribbled in ink as they are well underway, many we will write as we go. Through all of them we try to live in the moment as we wait for all the pieces to begin to fit into place. Recently it occurred to Deanna that we had spent some of our last 4-5 months thinking of our current situation as a mere stopover, a temporary place to wait until the pieces become more clear and the REAL adventure begins. This brings to mind Dr. Seuss’s inspirational book about the journey of life and its challenges Oh, the Places You’ll Go! which warns about “The Waiting Place… for people just waiting.” We definitely don’t want to be stuck in the languid grey of that place. While waiting is neither productive, fulfilling, nor renewing, waiting can include value – it just requires a conscious decision to achieve that value.

And that’s where we are today. We are waiting less than 3 months before we move aboard our boat in the San Francisco Bay area, and we are more determined than ever to prepare and be ready, both for the move and also for the lifestyle change. We long to wake in the morning to hear waves lapping against the hull, see wildlife thriving around us, and feel purpose… wagging its tail before us like the two souls that we will forever carry in our hearts

, their spirits with us to in all the places we will go.

Our last family photo with both Foster and Guinness, September 2020

Our routine these days is focused on learning, planning, packing, practicing, sharing, maintaining and improving Erin Skye, and winding down our lives here in the Denver area. A new purpose awaits us and we can feel the promise coursing through our veins.

  • By the end of the month, we will make a decision about where Ethan will go to high school
  • Near the end of April, Deanna will likely decide whether or not to seek employment in her career field of project management, transition from a part-time to full-time role exploring the story of our world with Erin Skye, or identify an appropriate mixture of both. Whatever is decided in that space will need to be balanced with leadership in Project Managers Without Borders, PMI, and of course family time.
  • We will also be identifying how to close out chapters here in Denver: How to bid adieu to friends accumulated over 25 years in this state, finalizing what to do with stuff that isn’t going on the boat, completing the middle school experience, and making the most of what we have here in this state, all during a pandemic. It’s not the way we envisioned it, but as it is with all things in this new life we will live, we will adjust and move forward.

Point Conception in the distance, near Santa Barbara, CA

There’s excitement in that agility, in not having a complete plan but knowing we can react and adjust with the preparations we’ve made. Fate will have its part too, fate and the weather. We can anticipate the wind, read the skies. Yet it is through experience and planning that we will control our destiny. From where we are now, we have a horizon full of possibilities.

Deanna started crafting the bones for these thoughts during a snowstorm, one of the last we expect to experience in a very long time. The scaffolding and the purpose is all hers.  The instrument is of her design, some of the coloring and of course, the chorus from the heartstrings is my doing. We were apart during the time she gave breath to this article while I was prepping Erin Skye for the next leg of her journey north. As the snow continued to fall and she wrapped up the first draft of this story, she passed on these thoughts to me so she and Ethan could be in the moment and not in the waiting place. Outside they went bundled for the storm to build a snowman together, perhaps for the last time in Colorado. We are moving on to create and explore the story of our world. The best place to start is where we are, and the best time is now.

With heartiest of regards,

James

Ethan’s last snowman for a while

 

Acknowledgments

Special thanks go to Jordan who treated our pups as her own and made them feel special when we were away, Dr. Deanna Miller and her practice Rising Sun Animal Care, who recognized that our dogs were family members and treated them that way, and to BJ and Brenda who hugged us (first time in a year!) despite the pandemic, the hour before we said goodbye to Foster. The heartiest of thanks go to James for holding every one of our canine children when they were freed from suffering, and providing the utmost of care and support, and to Ethan for the idea to give Foster the chance to have his previously-off-limits favorite treats one last time.

Deanna

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Written by James