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Life Goes On

It sounds a little cliché to say that, I realize, but sometimes it really sums it up. This past week, life has been moving on in our little household, without our sweet Penny. And amazingly enough, we’re doing pretty well. Up until the day of her appointment, I was a wreck. I felt torn inside – questioning if we were doing the right thing, if there was more that we could have done. I felt horrible, knowing what was coming. Even though we did our best to make those last few days and moments happy and full of love – at the same time my heart was breaking for Penny. And then, after she was gone, I grieved for the loss – but I felt so much more peaceful about the decision. I couldn’t help but think back on the past year and how much she had deteriorated. It had been a long time since her spunky, playful side was able to be free. She struggled so much, getting up and walking to the door…and even standing to eat her food was a challenge. She had to have been in a tremendous amount of pain – though she rarely made a peep. I realized that these past few months, as I watched her progressively get worse, I was feeling sorry for her. Every time I saw her I’d think ‘oh, poor Penny’…and give her some love. It suddenly dawned on me – that my sense of peace might even be a little relief. She was finally out of pain – free to run and play like she did in her younger years. I knew we had done the right thing.

As we lay in bed the first night without Penny, we decided we’d like to plant a tree in the back yard and bury her ashes there. It would be a loving tribute to her and just felt right to us both. So Saturday morning we picked up her ashes and did a little tree shopping. You should realize, taking Matt out in his chair to peruse trees at various nurseries is no easy task. The terrain is uneven, gravel or grass often, and the aisles are narrow and crowded. And yet – there we were…discussing what type of tree to plant as though we were any normal couple out on a Saturday afternoon looking at trees. We made our way to a small local nursery and wandered around the trees with the salesperson until we found the perfect one – a crimson king maple. It would be different than any other tree in our yard – special for Penny. It will grow big and tall and give us shade and beauty all year long. We knew right away it was the one for us. The helpful sales lady rung up our order and made arrangements to have it delivered. Driving home, Matt turns to me and says that sometimes he thinks he brings out the best in people. We’d had such a good experience at this little nursery – the sales lady was so nice, helpful, and genuine. Matt said he thought people were extra nice to him sometimes, because of his situation. I agreed, but I think it’s more than that. I think it’s how he LIVES despite his situation. You have to wonder, how often does a salesperson at a nursery work with a couple like us? How often does anyone, really, come in to contact with a couple like us? We just sort of take it for granted sometimes – it has become our new normal…and especially in the past few years we’ve really put ourselves out there even more despite the physical difficulties. I’m sure it makes an impression on people, when they see us in certain situations…like trudging through thick pea gravel to look at trees together on a hot summer afternoon. It’s not easy, and yet…there we are. Smiling, laughing, making plans. Making the most out of our life.

We’d been through this sad time in our marriage, losing a companion who’d been by our sides through all the good and bad of our journey, but we were going to be ok – we had each other. And that is a lot…I realize. Ours is a marriage that I know others envy. Our bond is unique and unbreakable. We are so blessed to have each other. Earlier in the week – as we were preparing to say goodbye to Penny, I realized that I was grieving for more than just losing Penny. It felt as though I was losing our former lives all over again, somehow. Because she had been there in our early days together as a married couple, she was such an integral part of our life together. All the memories of our ‘fat, happy days’ – she was there. I longed for those simple days of our youth…and cried for how drastically different our lives are today. But then…Matt says to me that he feels the happiest he has ever felt…NOW. While yes, our former life was great – that now there are so many wonderful things about our life. Our families, friends, our awesome house, and fun cars, our life is FULL of blessings and our faith is strong. God has seen us through the worst of times and we’ve come out the other side new, different, better somehow. While we will always think fondly of our younger years, we surely can’t deny how blessed we are today. That isn’t to say it hasn’t been a struggle at times. I go back and re-read early blog posts and I can’t fight the flood of emotions that overwhelm me. There was so much confusion, frustration, anger, fear, and oh…the deep sadness we felt. I’m grateful those days are behind us. I’m grateful for the broken relationships that have since mended. I’m grateful that Matt has slowly found his way to peace and acceptance. I’m grateful that Matt’s heart has opened itself to new opportunities and a fresh perspective on things. I’m grateful that I get to be his wife – his chosen partner – to laugh at his jokes, and snuggle into his chest, and eat lunches on the deck together, and visit friends and family together…the list goes on and on. Much like life, I suppose. In the end, though it will not be what I had thought it might be, our life together has been and I have no doubt will continue to be, amazing.

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