Reflections on Reflection; Our Babies

“Give sorrow words. The grief that does not speak whispers the o'er-fraught heart, and bids it break.”

(William Shakespeare)

This Blog started as a way to share my zillion puppy pictures from the F and then G Litters, and it continued by many requests. The Blog has two goals -- the first is to provide updates about our Kaibab Community, and the second is simply to reflect about life through -- and with -- dogs.

This reflection is not offered as truth -- it is simply one person sharing some of her inside self with the outside world. And I do it because for whatever reasons, I have come to know that it matters to some -- and that is reason enough.

But life with and through dogs is not all puppies and blue ribbons -- sometimes it is achingly awful heartbreak and loss. I know better than most how hard it is to stand still and bear witness to the pain and devastation of grief -- what I have always said about staying present when parents get news of a terrible outcome for a child is that it is like watching a tsunami come over them and break their souls into a million small pieces.

I know why people want to run and hide, avoiding having to watch such devastation -- because it is awful in a way that cannot be captured in words. But how much more awful to be required to bear it alone, without the company of loving people who can stand firm and therefore provide an anchor so that one does not drift off into the despair or stay broken forever.

This Blog will sometimes be hard to read, and some won't be able to bear it -- I know that and it is okay. But those who can become anchors for me, in the same way I have extended that gift to others. And I know from experience that it is hard and painful, but that being present in the face of something so profoundly "real" is also an invitation to find what is authentic and genuine inside of ourselves.

A few years ago I was invited to deliver a talk at the funeral of a child -- the parents specifically asked me to educate their family and friends about how to most effectively provide grief support. It is not helpful to compare losses -- I won't do that. But I will say that grief -- while very personal -- is something we all experience following significant losses.

In the spirit of making meaning out of devastation -- and to perhaps provide tools for those brave enough to be anchors for others -- I invite you to read Bree-Elle's Talk:

Today I am meeting with Mikelle, our wonderful veterinarian. I need to debrief about what happened at the Pet ER, and ask questions; I will share what I learn, although it may not be today. We are relatively certain that Cadi had a rather common cancer -- a hemangiosarcoma -- on her heart. Because it matters to me, I asked that a necropsy be performed and tissue sent to CSU for confirmation of the diagnosis. So I do not need to talk about that -- I need to talk about the process of Sunday -- and I am fortunate to have someone I trust to do that with it.

The trouble with grief (well, one of many troubles) is that it exists within the context of normal life -- and it is unseen by others. And so we must carry on in the "normal" world when nothing feels normal anymore -- and when nothing seems like it really matters. But I know I won't always feel this way and so I rally the wounded troops -- and soldier on through the fog.

And part of that is embracing what is still wonderful and good -- and there is a lot. One of the things is to share good news -- please join me in congratulating my wonderful friend, Kathy, whose sweet girl, Hannah, earned her UD on Sunday. Hannah is Kathy's first berner -- her Novice A dog -- and they have done so many excellent things together. I know Cadi's death put a long shadow on that day but it would never be her wish to cause unhappiness -- so we need to celebrate and be happy, as Cadi would want for Kathy -- she loved Kathy so. So HUGE Congratulations to Kathy and Hannah -- fantastic work, friends!!!

And we move on to our day to celebrate KaiBaby and Heidi2 -- John sends this update:

"We are having a hard time writing this week and don't really feel like it.  But, in honor of one of my favorite dogs -- and her daughter (and granddaughter) that we love so much -- we are just going to say we will miss her.  And have included photos of a powerful legacy.

And baby Kai, who went to a baby shower with Kristine, my mom and sister, for a very good friend of mine (and wife) who I grew up with.  In the picture is my friend Will's mom.  She is a very excited soon-to-be grandmother.  Our Kai seems to light up every place and face he visits.  What a gift."

Thank you, John! The girls are lovely -- as is Kai -- and both babies are growing up quickly! We appreciate your expressions of shared sorrow and also your appreciation that Cadi's family is her gift and her legacy. And thank you for sharing Kai with all of us :)


by Ruth on Wed, 03/28/2012 - 07:09

It is an honor to share your grief and process...thank you for inviting each of us who continue to each day, sometimes many times a day, come here to learn, cry, laugh, smile ...

by Kris Bazzano on Wed, 03/28/2012 - 07:24

Thank you Ruth for expressing my feelings too. I feel privileged to be part of this Kaibab blog community and I'm grateful for the many ways it has helped/changed my life.

by Debby Lyon on Wed, 03/28/2012 - 07:23

What a difficult time of grief you are having this year Mary-Ann. Although your feelings are raw, take comfort in your friends and your dogs. Even though we can't know exactly how you are affected by two losses so close to each other, we all know what it is like to be blessed with the unconditional love of a Berner, to feel their special companionship and what a void is left in the aftermath of their deaths. My most healing thoughts are with you.

by Lois on Wed, 03/28/2012 - 07:53

With remembrance to Cadi and her legacy we too are so very grateful for the gift she and Maize have given us. We see and feel her presence every day in our little guy. It is too soon for you to deal with another loss like this and my heart goes out to you every time I think about this. Be gentle with yourself.

by Elizabeth on Wed, 03/28/2012 - 07:59

I especially appreciated your Shakespeare quote... For every loss, anticipated and at last actual, I have tended to bleed words all over the place, because a shared burden is a little bit lighter... So thanks for adding a slew of your own, thus confirming that that is an appropriate thing to do... Indeed, it is a privilege to be allowed to share your grief. And I hope your soldiers aren't required to march anywhere today.

by Carmen K. on Wed, 03/28/2012 - 08:07

Today's blog entry is true and timely. I logged on yesterday many times and cried, and I thought how so much easier it is for me (and probably others) to turn away from reading the blog and to resume my daily life. But you are living your loss and experiencing feelings and emotions and thoughts every day, every hour, every minute about sweet Cadi, and I wanted to let you know that I continue to tune in despite knowing that it will not be all about sweet puppy breaths and waggy tails, and that what I will encounter on the blog might not be easy. I think this is true for many of us. Know that your Kaibab family and community will continue to reach out to support you and your family. Know that you are loved, and we ache and cry with you.

by Alex's Dad on Wed, 03/28/2012 - 09:36

You and your family (two and four legged) have given us so much happiness and so many good times that it's only fitting we share in the pain too. It's part of the deal when you call someone friend. I know we're not alone here when we say call on us any time. We (Jen, Alex and crew) have some spare soldiers sitting around with nothing to do, I'm sure.

by Marti Simons on Wed, 03/28/2012 - 09:49

Sometimes there are no words. Know that we share your grief and have spent time howling at the moon about the unfairness of it. Cancer sucks, there is no PC way to put it. Remember that soldiers shared can multiply faster then soldiers alone. Hugs and love to you my friend.

by Toby E. on Wed, 03/28/2012 - 11:15

M-A thank you so much for the eloquence of your words and the grace of your actions.

by Jennifer Z on Wed, 03/28/2012 - 11:29

Mary-Ann, your writing and wisdom insprire those of us who read the blog regularly. There is a 'pay it forward' effect happening here, as every comment today is so eloquent and so right. Beginning with Ruth, and on down the line, I can only say "What they said". John and Kristine, thank you for sharing Kai baby with us. He radiates joy, and one cannot help but smile (albeit through tears lately) when seeing his happy face. Congratulations to Kathy and Hannah (my dearest departed Ti's niece and mini-me) on a job very well done. A UD is a huge accomplishment.

by Mary on Wed, 03/28/2012 - 11:57

With the death of Mrs Maize, you have lived with a large hole in your life, the edges of which were still very raw and bleeding. And now, Cadi is gone and any little bits of healing scabs that might have begun to appear have been ripped off and that hole has been made bigger with no warning. Words can't describe the depth of such loss and sadness.

Although that empty space left by the deaths of your beloved Mrs Maize and Cadi will always be there, I pray that you might find some comfort in knowing that we stand with you, as once again, you face this assault on your very being - both physical and emotional. May the raw and bleeding edges of that awful hole slowly begin to heal, perhaps helped along by visualizing them being embroidered with the blanket stitch of our caring and support for you and your family.

The many physical miles between us cannot diminish the depth of our caring. We are with you in spirit.

by Heidi on Wed, 03/28/2012 - 19:31

... is that there are just times that, having no words, it just doesn't feel right, not being able to reach across a shared silence and take a hand to hold.

But in my heart, I am.



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