The One-Two Punch

My dad is/was a boxer (the human kind -- you know, involving gloves), and perhaps that is why I think the best way to describe how I feel is this:

The One-Two Punch: "A combination of two blows delivered in rapid succession in boxing, especially a left lead followed by a right cross" (

And so perhaps you can understand why I feel the need to sit in the corner of the ring - dazed and confused, throwing up, and wondering what the hell just happened.

But there is that bell again -- and that means I head back out into the ring, trying hard to just stay upright until the round is over and I can once again retreat to the safety of the little corner stool. Bruised and bloodied, every blow hurts now -- but I absolutely refuse to be knocked out.

I won't let that bully opponent known as "Misfortune" win. He took my beloved girls -- and snatched Cadi in the most cruel way -- but I refuse to willingly hand over any more of myself to the bastard. In the business of shattering souls, Misfortune doesn't get mine.

Everything takes effort, nothing feels important -- but I know I will not always feel this way. I know that the human spirit cannot be destroyed -- only handed over -- and I won't do that. So I will take my respite in the corner as I can, and then stagger out into the ring and go through the motions when I must, knowing that it will get easier.

Yesterday I honored my commitment to do Career Day at the local high school; I spent the morning talking about the work I do/have done. I knew it would be hard -- talking about end of life stuff and grief when one has just had a rather traumatic end of life experience and is actively grieving -- well, whose stupid idea is that?! And yet my week has been filled with it. Next week is Spring Break -- could this have waited a week?!!!!

No -- of course not. So I gathered up my Therapy Dog (aka Sydney) and we did it. I explained to the students that Sydney has all the attributes one needs to be a good social worker -- and she does and she put it all on display with those kids. She was kind to all, gifting each with unconditional positive regard -- truly a natural Therapy Dog.

But grief is exhausting -- and so are high school students -- so with the wounded Little Soldiers piled on stretchers, Sydney and I went home for a bit before the bell rang again, signaling another round.

I met with Mikelle, our vet. I am not ready to share all of that but will say how much it matters to know that I work with a professional who cares for and about my dogs, and whose heart has room for shared sorrow.

More resting in the corner before the next bell -- back to Missoula for a class -- with the ever present Sydney in tow (and Harper B).

I take the days in chunks because a whole day is too much. And I leave things undone because I know the Little Soldiers are already overtaxed, and I have certain things that must get done --  I cannot expect those bloodied Little Soldiers to vacuum when I need them to read student papers, for example.

Knowing so much about grief makes all this slightly less horrific in two ways. First, I know what to expect from grief, and that helps a lot. I don't try to do everything, I cut myself a lot of slack, and I recognize that my fury at every annoyance is really my rage over having my sweet dog snatched from me in one day -- and therefore I have not hit anyone yet, although I have been tempted.

The second way my expertise in grief helps is that I absolutely know I will be okay again -- in other words, I have hope. I will not always feel this way -- I know this with certainty, and I hang tight to that knowledge and let it save me when I feel like I am just drowning. I want you to remember that when it is your turn -- never, ever let go of Hope.

It was just a week ago that Cadi played with Harper and Zoey and the blue toy -- looking at her pictures makes us sad, I am sure, but how much sadder to try and push her out of our minds?

Crying the zillions and zillions of tears that Cadi-Bug is worth, trying hard not to slug random annoying people, and staying upright when I must -- that is my life right now -- well, that and clutching desperately to Hope...


by Greg R Peirce on Thu, 03/29/2012 - 07:05

Tears are necessary and sometimes a great way to remember to wash your face when everything around you seems to be falling apart (please remember my weird humor right now Mary Ann). Also, always hold on to Hope for it will get you through to the next hour (and then eventually the next day). Love from Bend.

by Marietta Ehrich on Thu, 03/29/2012 - 07:17

Oh Mary-Ann...I'm so very sorry! I just checked in to catch up and read about your sudden loss of Cadi. Hang in there and take care of yourself as much as possible. Sending little soldiers from Illinois to help where ever they can!


by Elizabeth on Thu, 03/29/2012 - 07:38

... Hasn't been much of a problem here, for sure... Bravo for having the strength to even get out of bed, never mind fulfill your particular obligations this week. Good girl, Sydney, for being the dog your mom needs right now! She sounds like she's taking over for all your soldiers.

by Jim Sontag on Thu, 03/29/2012 - 08:31

Watch out for the left hook coming behind the right hand.

Your ability to feel, as painful as it must be, makes you so much better at your work, as as a loving and wonderful person.

by Carol Kracht on Thu, 03/29/2012 - 09:36

I love hope....hope helps us us a light at the end of a very dark tunnel...without hope we cannot go on....always believe in hope and for me in faith...Hope and Faith- my two favorite names for girls....Wishing you hope, faith that you will get through this and strength for each day ahead.....and know we are thinking of you as you do this....Carol

by cindy Heintzberger on Thu, 03/29/2012 - 09:49

How I love your writing!! So many important emotions are shared in your blogs, and I treasure all of them... Hoping for more soldiers and more good luck for you! Wish I could send LOTS of lottery tickets your way:)

by Heidi on Thu, 03/29/2012 - 18:15

It's amazing that someone who is in the pathos of grieving can even then give gifts like beautiful writing to people, isn't it? I'm humbled.

by cousin Julie on Thu, 03/29/2012 - 10:17

I agree with everthing Cindy said. Your written word is healing. Thank you. For now, remember, inhale... are loved. We are holding on to hope for you and with you.

by Kay Morrow on Thu, 03/29/2012 - 12:51

I had my one-two punch almost 2 years ago as I said goodbye to Maize's brother Riley and Cadi's brother Dillon one after another. It was difficult and I think of them often as I watch Ruben and Micah playing in the backyard. But life has gone on and unpleasant memories are morphing into pleasant thoughts of the fun I had with my boys. It will take time but your soldiers will recover with the help of Syd and company. Hang in there.

by Jill on Thu, 03/29/2012 - 12:56

Mary-Ann, I just got on line to get my Kaibab Blog updates only to find out that Dear, Sweet, Beautiful Cadi is gone.
When I read it, I said 'No, no, no,' as if saying no would change things. I wish I could change things and bring her back for you.
Big Hugs to you and your family, and my deepest sorrow for all of you. Sorry, sorry, sorry.

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