Wednesday, August 9, 2017

A month ago today I woke up and realized something was seriously wrong with Clancy because for the first time in months and months and months, he didn't wake me up throughout the night to go to the bathroom. At first I basked in the glory of being able to sleep for six hours without being interrupted, but then I got a really uncomfortable feeling in the pit of my stomach when I realized that was. So I got up out of bed and went into the living room, only to find Clancy had dragged himself halfway across the living room (evident by the track marks left by his hiking sneakers), was bleeding under his chin, and couldn't get up on his own.

We were experiencing a heatwave and I hadn't made him sleep in the bedroom with me the night before. I wanted him to be comfortable. But I don't think he was that night- it was hot and he couldn't move. And I feel awful that I wasn't there to help him in the ways he likely needed. I crouched down in front of him, looked him in the eyes and said "What's going on bud?" And I just knew.

Everyone always says you know when you know. And I really didn't know until I knew. And in that moment I knew.

I knew that a life in which Clancy couldn't get up unassisted wasn't one I wanted for him. And it wasn't one I wanted for me. It wasn't realistic or kind. And so after conversations with Katie, Steve-o, my mom and our vet, we came to the conclusion that in two day's time, we'd be saying our goodbyes to Clancy. My heart quickly started breaking but I put all my time and energy and emotion into being with Clancy and making him feel nothing but love for every bit of time we had remaining.

So most of those three days was spent like this:

Last night as I went to bed, I marveled at how I went the whole day without crying. I couldn't believe it, but was also grateful that the intensity of my grief had shifted. And then I woke up this morning with a tightness in my throat and a heaviness in the pit of my stomach as I realized it had been just a month ago when I knew. And the tears came easily as I thought back to the difficulty of that day and making that decision.

I'm grateful that I've never once felt regret over making that decision. A very good friend shared her experience in having to say goodbye to her beloved dog with me. She talked about wanting to pass off the responsibility to someone who knew what she was doing. And I get that. It's an insane responsibility to be the one to determine when someone should no longer be alive. And if I were to dwell on that for too long, I do think I'd likely go a little bananas. More than anything, I did feel like I was giving Clancy the gift of not suffering for any longer than was necessary. If anything, I'd kinda wished we could have said our goodbyes on Monday instead of Tuesday. But we spent that extra day cuddling, loving, touching and being as present as possible (sometimes that was hard for me).

I miss Clancy. I will miss Clancy forever. I know that to be true. And while I know it won't always hurt like it does now when I think of him, I am honoring my feelings and this painful process. Because I deserve it. And most importantly, my love story with Clancy deserves it too.


Thursday, July 27, 2017

Steve finally comes home in a couple of hours and I'm equal parts apprehensive and looking forward to his return.

I know we will grieve our sweet Clancy in new ways together.
I know Steve will grieve Clancy's absence in ways I've just barely begun to adjust to and that makes my heart hurt for him.
I know that it will be hard.
I know that we will cry.
I know that it will hurt.
And I know that all of that will be necessary...and normal.

Three weeks ago, Clancy and I dropped Steve off at the airport. And he had a feeling that Clancy wasn't going to be around. I thought he was crazy. Dr. George thought he was crazy. But as it turns out, Steve was right.

Because I'm me, I took a million photos (okay, maybe a little less than that) as Steve was curbside at LAX. And as it turns out, this was the very last photo taken of Clancy and Steve:

Steve will return and things will be very, very different:

  • There will be no dog cover on the back seat of the car.
  • There is no dog to love on when he walks in the door. (Clancy wasn't necessarily getting up to greet us when we walked in the door towards the end.)
  • There isn't a single leash, harness or collar visible inside the apartment.
  • There is no basket of toys by the front door. 
  • There is no diaper, pad, wrap or doggie bags. 
  • My office has been rearranged. 
  • There is no crate inside our bedroom.
  • There is no dog bowl stand inside the kitchen, no cottage cheese or white rice inside the fridge, freezer or cabinets. No trace of Clancy's food anywhere. (I made sure to toss the one piece of kibble that was stuck inside the measuring cup that I found about a week ago...which of course made me cry). 
  • There are no tarps protecting the floors in the living room from the various accidents that were happening on a regular basis. 
And most painful of all, in place of our sweet boy, there's a fucking box of ashes that make up the contents of what used to be Clancy's body.

Steve and I have been grieving separately for 2 1/2 weeks. And now it's time for us to grieve together. We need to figure out how to go from a family of three to a family of two. How to adjust to the enormous emptiness left behind by Clancy's absence. How to fill the void and patch ourselves together again.

My hope is we can learn from Clancy's  example and provide each other with unconditional love and unwavering companionship as we need it most. 


Sunday, July 23, 2017

Two weeks ago today, I knew.

I woke up to find my sweet boy had dragged himself across the carpet, because he could no longer get himself up on his own, possibly attempting to get into the kitchen for the cool floor. Or maybe he was thirsty. Or maybe he just wanted to move from the spot he had been sleeping in over night. Who knows. What I do know is it was evident because his red hiking boots left tracks in the carpet and it broke my heart when I came out into the living room 14 days ago.

When I crouched down on the floor in front of him and put my face right in front of his and said "Oh buddy. What's going on?" he had blood under his chin- a faint stain already accumulating on the carpet. Maybe from his chin also being dragged across the carpet? Maybe from something else. I just know that there was a blood spot from where he had been resting his chin. And that I was sad. And that he was sad.

He was different.
He was tired.
He looked over it.

I wanted to blame it on the heat. The stupid f'n heat wave that made him more lethargic than normal. The one that made me not force him to sleep in the bedroom with me the night before. The one that caused Cyrena to get up about 15 minutes before me to place the fan directly in front of him.

But it wasn't the heat.

I can't believe it's been two weeks. Because in some ways it feels like forever ago. In three minutes it'll be two weeks and one day since I made the hardest easiest (or was it the easiest hardest) decision of my life. The decision that it was time to let Clancy go. Not being able to get up on his own was a game changer.

It's 11:57 p.m. and I almost made it through the entire day without crying. But then I got home to an empty, dark home and felt Clancy's absence.


And now with tears streaming down my face and a heaviness on my heart, I know that this is not the day where I will not cry.

Because I wanted Clancy to have greeted me when I got home- even if he didn't get off the couch. Because I wanted to have the responsibility of taking him out- even if he had already gone to the bathroom in his diaper.
Because I wanted the comfort of having his company inside our home.
Because I wanted to look over as I fell asleep and say "night night" as he went to sleep just beside me.

But these things are no longer to be.
Because Clancy is no longer with me.


Monday, December 5, 2016

2016 Photography Challenge: Monthly Themes. November = Family

November is a month that reminds us about the importance of family, and I was so grateful to be able to spend it with all sorts of family- my work family, two of my three sisters, quality time with Clancy. Not to mention Thanksgiving with so much of my chosen family friends and some of my actual family. But two moments in particular stood out that I've captured below.

The first is a photo I took just after my sister Kara finished the 2016 Susan G. Komen San Diego 3-Day. After losing two childhood best friends (both 44 and with five children between the two of them), Kara and her friend Trish decided to participate in the Komen 3-Day. Due to months of dedicated training (and an amazing fundraising performance which landed Kara in the top 25 fundraisers out of 2,600 walkers and with $12,000), Kara and Trish easily completed the event. Their training more than payed off, and it was so fun to have them on the last 3-Day of the season.

Here's a photo of Kara and I shortly after they crossed the finish line. For the record, I'm proudly wearing a hat that was gifted to one of their friends who passed away, Linda.

The second photo was taken the day after Thanksgiving. Steve and I spent the holiday apart for a few reasons, but mostly because he's playing the main role in helping out with his father (whose declining health and broken elbow requires a lot of hands-on care these days). We took a quiet moment to watch the sunset and catch up. 

I know just how much is resting on those shoulders right now and I love that I caught Steve deep in thought as the sun was setting.


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

2016 Photography Challenge: Monthly Themes. October = Autumn Colors

October was another really busy month with work travel. I was gone 19/31 days. It was rough. But also really nice because I got to have a lot of fun with my work friends and family, reconnect with a lot of my friends in the places I traveled to (Atlanta, Philadelphia and New York City) and have some short, but quality time with family.

For the two weekends that I was home, Steve and I went off in search of autumn colors. Because I've been wicked jealous of all the fall foliage photos I've seen from New England (and New Hampshire in particular), I was really hoping to get some photos of trees with beautifully changing leaves. We went off in search of them in Westwood and Beverly Hills and had little luck. Then this past weekend, we ventured farther east and went to La CaƱada Flintridge to check out Descanso Gardens where I heard there may actually be some fall-like foliage.

While I liked getting out and exploring and seeing new things (and having an excuse to eat at Din Tai Fung), I was disappointed that we didn't find the kind of fall foliage I had in mind. I did manage to find some autumn colors in some of the flowers that I saw while wandering around the peaceful and beautiful grounds of Descanso Gardens:

While not the kind of autumn colors I was going for, I love this photo of Steve surrounded by the fallen leaves.
A product of Beverly Hills leaf peeping

Check out Cyrena and Sarah's photos coming soon!


Saturday, October 1, 2016

2016 Photography Challenge: Monthly Themes. September = Expressions

While I was only home for 14/30 days in the month of September, Steve and I managed to escape for a quick weekend to Portland, Oregon before I had to continue onto Seattle for the Susan G. Komen Seattle 3-Day.

We'd been talking about going to Portland for a while and I'm glad we squeezed it in. We ate some delicious food (my favorite was the cookies and cream ice cream from Ruby Jewel). I found some killer stairs. And Steve got lost over and over again for hours and hours at Powell's Books.

While he was looking around and concentrating hard on finding some new books, I walked around trying to find some fun cards and socks. If you've ever been to Powell's, then you know the place is like a maze. There are two different places to enter and exit the store, there are multiple levels, and so many nooks and crannies all throughout the massive bookstore. One point while I was walking around, I peered over to see the floor below, and was surprised to see Steve there studiously looking at book titles. I love his look of total concentration and how furrowed his brow is in this photo I snapped without him knowing:

Check out Cyrena and Sarah's photos below:


Thursday, September 1, 2016

2016 Photography Challenge: Monthly Themes. August = Summer Golden Hours

I've been traveling a lot for work- Michigan, Dallas and Minnesota- so I knew Steve and I would need to be intentional with our time together in the month of August. Because even when I was home, we had lots of plans (rehearsal dinner, wedding, Adele with friends- me, not Steve). And most importantly, Summer Steve turned back into School Steve in August.

A few nights ago, we went on a family walk in Palisades Park (what I like to call our backyard) and I brought my camera and set up my tripod and got some cute photos of Steve and Clancy and the sun as it was setting. But I ultimately liked this photo of Steve looking out at the ocean with the Santa Monica Pier in the background.

The lighting really was perfect and I love the peacefulness that was captured as Steve looked out to the ocean. This photo reminds me of how much I have to be grateful for including this man and this place we get to call home!

Check out Cyrena and Sarah's photos coming soon!


Sunday, August 28, 2016

2016 Photography Challenge: Monthly Themes. July = Summer Fun

July was all about Summer Fun for Summer Steve and post-Ireland, I got to get in on some of the fun too. I also traveled a bit for work- one quick trip to Dallas and I spent six days in Valencia doing some event prep- but Summer Steve and I managed to find some fun together.

The photo I chose for my July Summer Fun theme is from our July 4th get together at my father-in-law's house in Pacific Palisades. We've been going there nearly every year for the 4th of July (since I came into the picture) because the view is incredible. While the traffic getting home from there is no fun, the fireworks display over the Pacific Ocean makes it well worth it.

I brought my tripod and fooled around with the various camera settings for nighttime photography and got such an epic photo that I'm so excited about:

While it's not crystal-clear, I'm so happy with how it came out and that you can see so many different fireworks going off in the background and the plane landing at LAX (that's the streak). I was hoping to take more photos of the fireworks, but- rookie mistake- I didn't have my back-up battery charged. Buzzkill!

Check out Cyrena (coming soon) and Sarah's photos:


Friday, August 26, 2016

12 Years Later...

Dear Dad,

It's hard to believe that it's been 12 years since you died. I remember bits and pieces of that day clearly. But as it's been so long, other parts of it have certainly faded with the passage of time. Just as people said would happen. (I didn't believe them at the time since you were all I could think about.)

I remember when you died- just after 7:00 p.m. and not long after we withdrew all support and told you that it was okay to let go. I remember calling Amy to tell her you died and she said "Really?" And I still found time to joke and say, "No. I'm just kidding." And we laughed.

I remember how strange- and wrong- it felt to walk out of Dartmouth without you. Without even as much as a brochure of how to deal with the death of a loved one. I remember how awful it was to walk into 22 Winter Street knowing you would never, ever be there again. And how much it hurt every time we saw your things- yet how relieved we were that someone (George probably) did a sweep of the house and removed every single thing that would remind us of you being sick.

I feel like I've needed a father more in these past 12 years than I did ever before. And it hurts so badly to not have you to turn to or to help guide me when I need it. And while I've never really reached for the phone wanting to call you after you died (thank you for never actually answering the phone when you were alive, even when it was sitting right next to you, or for passing it directly to mom in those rare cases when you did pick it up), there have been so many moments over the past 12 years where I wished you had been here. For the good times, but more so for the hard times.

Over the past 12 years I've learned that the sadness and grief I experience on days like today are so hard to navigate. Some times this day passes easily. I can eat pizza and some Ben & Jerry's and think of you with a smile on my face (and a bit of shaking of my head, like many people who knew you) and be grateful for the time we had together. Those years are a gift. But then there are some years, like this one, where I just know it's going to hurt and the day will pass by with some pizza and some Ben & Jerry's. But there will also be a lot of tears and sadness and wishing for what will never be or never was. And that feels shitty. But I suppose that's a gift too. What people tell us, to help us feel better about the sadness, is that feeling this way makes us lucky because it means we had a real and special relationship with you. I get the sentiment, I really do. still sucks. And you dying only six months after being diagnosed with esophageal cancer- at the young age of 55- will never feel or be okay.

I think this year is harder than others because one of the greatest (maybe the greatest) gifts you left behind, Clancy, is aging in ways I really wish he weren't. I've already made peace- begrudgingly- with the fact that we have way more time behind than ahead of us. But every day he seems to get more gray hair and move a little slower. At 13 1/2 I know that our time with him is limited. And this four-legged, big-hearted, lovable goofball you left behind that I've had the good fortune of calling mine since March of 2006, is a constant reminder of you. And I'm so sad to think of how that connection with you will change when Clancy's no longer here. I know, I know. I shouldn't get ahead of myself. But sometimes I just can't help it.

Our relationship was complicated. You weren't an easy man- even though you told us, repeatedly, that your middle name was "Flexible." But I don't think I'll ever get over knowing that our sense of "home" would leave when you died. Turns out you were the glue that kept us all together.

I miss you every day, Dad. And wherever you are, I hope you're smiling, laughing, telling great stories and looking down on all of us knowing that you are never far from our thoughts.

I love you,


Sunday, July 10, 2016

2016 Photography Challenge: Monthly Themes. June = Travel

June is the only month in which there will be a departure from the theme of Molly & Steve Adventures. The reason being that I was in Ireland and Steve was home in Santa Monica. And there's no way I'm not sharing a photo from Ireland!

When we chose our themes for each month, I knew that June would be a photo from my annual trip to Ireland. If you haven't read about my trip and want to, my part one recap is up here. I'm working on part standby for that. And if you want to know all about how I met Gene. You can read about that here. And then if you're still not sick of my Irish adventures, you can read more about my shenanigans with Gene over the years here.

So yeah. Ireland. Picking just one photo has been really, really hard. Which is why we're 10 days into the month and I'm just now doing this blog post. I saw so many beautiful things and took hundreds and hundreds of photos while I was back home in Ireland. But the photo I've chosen represents a lot to me.

First. Here's the photo:

It's taken from the top of Croagh Patrick. An insanely challenging hike I did by myself on my fourth day in Ireland. I had every intention of doing this hike with my friend Brittany, but she had to work. And while part of me figured "Eh. I don't have to still do this." I'm so glad I persevered and went ahead and did it regardless. I shared this in my first trip recap, but I tried to do this hike in 2008 and I turned around after 10 minutes. To know that I'm stronger physically and mentally eight years later is something I'm so, so proud of. And to be rewarded with such a beautiful view of Clew Bay with all the blues and greens of the ocean and the fields was such a cherry on top.

To me this photo equates to determination, strength and progress. And not only does it make me smile when I look at it, but I feel accomplished.

Now. I couldn't just pick just one photo. The second photo is also really representative of my trip to Ireland. It was the first time that I wasn't meeting someone over there or traveling over to Ireland with someone. I had plans to meet up with my friend Robin (hi Robin!) who lives in Galway. And that was wonderful- as always. And as mentioned earlier, I met up with my friend Brittany (who is living in Austin but working in Ireland temporarily). But other than that, my trip was my own.

I spent a LOT of time by myself. It's not something I do when I'm home in Santa Monica. I replenish my energy by being around other people and since I work from home alone (well, Clancy's there but...), I tend to crave being in the company of people whenever I can. But it was a really good experience for me to be more comfortable being on my own. I found that I loved not having a set plan and while there were places I wanted to explore far away from Gene's, I opted to chill and stick close to home vs. travel all over Ireland. Because I was on my own, I felt no pressure to do anything other than what I felt like each day. This photo is taken on my eighth or ninth day in Ireland when I went to do a hike I did during my New Year's Eve trip back in 2013.

To me this photo represents the solitude of a lot of my time in Ireland. Yet it also shows how beautiful it was and how you never know what's around the corner. I needed that reminder while I was there and I loved not having every inch of my trip planned. It opened me up to a lot of unexpected adventures that unfolded each day naturally.

And then I couldn't resist including this photo I took on the hike to Carrowkeel. It shows how totally happy I was in that moment with the wind whipping about, on my own, surrounded by so much beauty in a place that truly feels like another home to me.

Check out Cyrena and Sarah's photos!


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