"Never put off tomorrow what you can do today." The saying is everywhere. Even in my daughter's Berenstain Bears book there's reference to it. Today I feel like it has many meanings, beyond just getting tasks done.
Yesterday we said good-bye to my first (fur) baby, Rani. I got her in 2007 when I was in college and she's been my shadow ever-since. Literally she was next to me, glued to my feet, for everything. Many called her a "velcro-dog" because she thought it was her duty to keep an eye on me. It's bred in her as a Shetland Sheepdog to guard the flock of sheep and move them according to what the master asks for. Guess that would make me her master, although sometimes she would "herd" me as if I was a farm animal. That would tend to happen if she wasn't sure if I knew it was her dinner time and she'd circle and nudge me towards her food bowl, or if I was on the phone she'd nip at my heels to make sure I was aware she was there. I even had a dog trainer in college come to the my home and help me understand all this behavior and how to cope with it. I knew someday I would miss all that, but I thought we had a bit longer together. We did agility together, she witnessed several heartbreaks, my father's death, a marriage, and 2 babies being born. She was with me through it all.
On our last night together Rani got me up at 2:30am. I had just set everything up so that both kids would sleep well considering we had had a few restless nights lately. Calm activities before bed, lavender essential oil in the defuser, and me in bed by 9. I was going to bed each night with blood-shot eyes because of a lack of sleep. In all my training as a nutrition coach, sleep was very heavily talked about. I knew it was important for my well-being, but as a mom that's hard to come by sometimes. So I was on a mission to get a few extra hours that night. When Rani was out of her bed, circling on our wood floor, making tapping noises nonstop, I was annoyed. I put her on our bed hoping she'd settle down, but she couldn't stop breathing heavily. The. breathing was so hard it was shaking our bed. I figured she was hot so I turned up the air in the house. It still didn't stop. Frustrated, I got up and let her outside for her duties. She came back in and acted as though she'd go back to sleep. About an hour later it was the same thing, so I put her on our bed. She laid next to my face, getting into her little curve she used to do when she slept with me, but still she couldn't settle. Then the baby woke up and I was even more furious. I took her with me to check on him and while in his room I could hear her relieving herself uncontrollably on the carpet. How could she go on the brand new carpet? That's not going to be easy to clean up! Why did I bring her with me instead of letting her out first? Now I am never going to get back to bed. I let her out and then stayed up through 1 episode of a show on the couch before I noticed her settle finally on the floor. I headed back to bed with her and she calmed a bit in her own dog bed. We were able to get a few more hours of sleep before the day would start.
Little did I know this would be our last day together. I dropped her at the vet's office and had a dreaded phone call telling me given all her health concerns: pale gums, rapid heart beat, lack of oxygen, no appetite, no strength to walk let alone stand, and possible nerve damage, it might be time to put her out of her misery. I brought her home to say goodbye to the kiddos and let her have a few last bites of a hamburger patty and some vanilla ice cream. I had always said if she's going to go, she's not going without having a bit of a favorite meal. I held her in my arms as she took her last few breaths and promised her I would never forget her and all the things she did for me. Thanked her for her unconditional love and told her she did her job overly well. I told her I was so sorry for all the changes in the last few years and for sometimes blaming her when things got tough.
Now, as I lay in bed on my first sleepless night without her, I feel like all I am left with are loads of memories, sadness, and guilt. Why am I able to get up today early in the morning, with my coffee and watch a show? Had I known she was going to pass yesterday, I would have stayed up with her and cuddled on the couch. I was warned by my best friend that when she goes I will miss all those things that annoyed me so much- circles around me, tap dancing in the hall when I was trying to get a baby to sleep, barking at the back door, and never leaving my side. Lately all I had been saying in my head was "why isn't there someplace I can put her sometimes so I can get a minute to myself?" Well, now I have those moments as long as the other wild ones are asleep.
It's said time and time again we are not going to get moments back so it's better to just embrace them and make the most of it. As moms we sometimes get so wound up and frustrated because we are sleep-deprived, craving moments without someone tapping us on our shoulder, and wanting to have quiet time to think. We have to remember this is not forever. There's going to be a day when loved ones are no longer with us or kids are moved out and we are going to crave the hectic seasons again. We can't go back once they are gone.
I can't help but ask myself, "what would I do differently now knowing what I know today?" Well, for one I would have a designated spot for a pup to be when the owner needs a break. There's nothing wrong with needing that as a human. Or a doggy daycare for the pup to play at so you can get a few things done. More importantly I would involve the dog a bit more in family activities so you're not left with Lady and the Tramp visions in your head. I can still hear Rusty say, "When the baby moves in, the dog moves out." I know I didn't completely dismiss Rani, but things definitely did change.
The same goes for the human family in our life- we don't know what tomorrow brings. Arguments happen, words are said that we truly don't mean, phone calls aren't made, time isn't spent together and we are going to crave that when it's not there anymore. When times are tough, we have to have a way to let it out, but help ourselves come back to realizing it's just one wave in the sea and calm waters will come back again. For me it's been a wake up call to realizing I need to have an anchor, breathing exercise, or mantra to go to when waters are rough. That way we aren't left with this feeling when our loved ones are no longer with us.
If you find yourself caught up in moments of frustration such as this, join me in the journey to explore what we can do to reset ourselves. Mindfulness exercises will help, but finding the right one takes time. I am happy to be your sounding board for this when you're ready. We deserve this, as much as those around us (fur and human.)