A Unique Baptism and a Special Gift this Holiday Season
Posted Nov 28 2008 10:07am
Prepare for life’s major stressors. That’s what I had set my sights on. It made sense. Stress, or more specifically in my personal case, emotional stress, can trigger major M.S. relapses. So, one year ago when I was first officially diagnosed with M.S. we evaluated that first year ahead of me. We planned –as best as we could – to make it as non-emotionally stressful as possible. We vowed to avoid the triggers, like extreme heat and cancelled our upcoming vacation to Cancun. I put myself on a consistent and solid sleep regimen, vowed to find the right treatment and follow that treatment religiously, and became what I thought to be the epitome of a ‘good’ M.S. patient. The goal was to make it through one year without ending up back in the hospital. If that goal was reached, I guess the hubby and I thought the future would be more certain.
So, one year – no huge emotional stresses – or at least we’d plan and prepare for those that could rear their ugly heads. So what do I do? I switch jobs. I decide to sell my home (it goes on the market officially next week by the way –probably on the one year anniversary of hearing those magic words, “You have Multiple Sclerosis”) and we began the process of saying goodbye to Oboe pup. The year has been filled with emotional stress, although well-planned and gently handled, and we made it through. One, small relapse occurred about six months into our new life, but no additional hospital stays followed. A transition between M.S. treatment therapies was necessary, but I believe the transition was actually fortunate for me. I’d say we’ve reached our first year goal.
However, what was I thinking? Somehow I guess I thought that if I planned for Oboe’s passing that it would be somewhat easier. I’m extremely grateful this Thanksgiving weekend that we had this past year to ease into his transition. So many puppy parents aren’t as lucky. I’m even more grateful that we’ve had these last ten days since making the decision to develop some closure, to allow ourselves some precious moments to create new and everlasting memories. But easy? No way. This farewell to my pup comes without ease as well.
I woke at 5 a.m. today, still filled to the brim with turkey and stuffing and committed to spending as much quality time as possible with Oboe on his last, full day with us. I think the pup knows what’s coming and honestly I think he’s relieved. It’s as if – for months – that he’s been begging us to fix what’s wrong with him. In the past, whenever he was sick, we’d notice right away and make it better. This time there was no solution and I truly believe Oboe’s been wondering why we haven’t done anything to make him feel like new again. While he can sense our deep sorrow, I know he understands that he’ll feel better very soon.
On the way to be with family for Turkey Day yesterday, the reality of ‘everything happens for a reason’ hit home with me. Everything continues to be part of a path, part of a journey. I was struggling about having to sell our precious home to move closer to my new job – until this week. Now that Oboe won’t be with us, it’s time to go; it’s time to move on, it’s time for a new life and new memories. I’m ready to move. Now.
It’s as if all the stars have aligned for us this past year. A diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis could have been life-ending (not literally, but certainly emotionally). Instead, the diagnosis has brought a renewed sense of ‘joi de vive’ to both the hubby and me. We’ve made decisions to move our lives forward, to fulfill some of our dreams, to tackle challenges instead of running from them and it seems that all the stars aligned appropriately to put us on the path to where we’re meant to be. A new and fulfilling career, a new home, healthy and happy children, happy and relatively healthy parents, an acceptance of the ‘new normal’ and how to maneuver through life with an incurable disease – all of it has been part of ending one, long chapter and beginning a whole new part of life to come.
Throughout the week I’ve been reflecting on life with Oboe. I thought I taught the pup how to love like a human, but I’m wrong. Oboe has taught me how to love, without condition, better than any human ever could. The stories about him are innumerable and would take days to recount here. For those who have never ‘met’ the Oboemeister here in the Sunshine, a list of web links are below – the stories of the past year will give you a sense of his spirit, of his specialness. They will also selfishly spare me the necessity of writing stories – that while memorable and special – will break my heart into additional pieces this morning. They shall serve as my tribute to my baby.
The hubby baptized the pup earlier this week. I wasn’t home at the time but he recounted the story for me. Apparently our Bible (or maybe every Bible) contains directions for Baptism. He followed the directions, said the appropriate prayers and poured a good amount of water on the pup’s head. The hubby told me that Oboe just sat there with his head bent down, and didn’t fight the waterfall. And, when done, he licked Tom as if to say “Thank you.” The hubby told me that he’s made peace with our decision because during this holiday season and for this first time in his life he’s about to give Jesus a birthday present – the best possible gift in the world. Our Oboe.
To honor that gift, today I make a promise. I’ll honor Oboe’s memory by trying to live my life like he lived his: full of love and honesty, remembering to play a little every day, loving food and music and time with family, giving kisses to people who really don’t want them, with wide eyes and an open heart. We’ll never have another pup (and readers — don’t try to tell us differently). Our decision is made and it’s the right one. There will never be another Oboe and all other pups would fall immeasurably short. It wouldn’t be fair to them. It wouldn’t be fair to us. We had our time together in the Sun. Memories of those times will carry us through.
I leave this entry today with a song my mom sang to me every night as a little child. I never had a baby of my own to pass the song along to. Instead, I’ve sung it every night to Oboe these past eleven years. I will sing it to him tomorrow, one last time, as the pain and sickness leaves his body.
“Mama loves you, yes she does. Mama loves and misses you. Sleepy good and be a good [puppy]. Nappy time is happy time.” I’ll miss you, my Oboe, but you will never be forgotten.