When Kenan meets you tomorrow, I need you to make me a few promises.
Be kind. He is a very special dog, full of quirks and bad habits. He is mixed with grizzly bear and teddy bear. He moves with the speed of lightning and the stubbornness of a thousand mules. It is easy to shout and push. But Kenan deserves so much more than forcefulness. He deserves hugs and snuggles, loving words and mountains of praise. And, when you feel like you have given all the love and encouragement that you can give, he will surprise you with the nuzzle of his nose, the soft touch of his ears, and the most grateful look in his eyes.
Be patient. I’ve always said that Kenan is the kind of dog that only his mother can love. While some people might describe him as annoying, I would describe him as interesting. He talks and he cries. He will never let you watch your favorite show. And he makes sure that everyone in the house knows what he wants and when he wants it. But he is loyal and sweet. He can sense when you are upset or hurting. And he knows just when to lay his head, ever so gently, right in your lap so you might be distracted, just for a few minutes, from whatever is causing you pain. You just have to be patient enough to give him the chance.
Be a protector. Kenan is so used to guarding us that he often forgets to watch out for himself. He wore a dirt path in our yard along the fence line, and yet, he never once asked for protection in return. He barked every time someone rang the doorbell or pulled in to the driveway. And on the random nights that I was home alone and Matt was away, Kenan stood guard by my bedside, without sleeping, just to make sure that I was safe. Yet, as I watched so vigilantly over him, he still developed this terrible disease. I watched as his toes began to curl under as he walked. I looked away as he began to get up more slowly every morning. And I denied that this was more than just arthritis in an old and tired dog. And now, as I sit, cuddled up beside him on the night before we take him to the vet to take his final breaths, I blame myself for not protecting him.
Be fun. He loves to run and chase. He loves to be mischievous and impish. I can’t count the hours that we played outside, playing a one-sided version of fetch. I would throw the ball, he would run and get it, bring it back, and then refuse to give it to me so I could throw it again. Instead, he wanted to play tug, and jump, and wrestle. We had to put blockades under the deck because of the number of times he crawled under there to hide and couldn’t get out. And then there’s the time he caught the ground hog…
Be still. He doesn’t really like it when you move, or when you’re too loud, or when you disrupt him in any way. In fact, when he used to sleep under the bed, he would growl if you happened to turn over while on top of the bed. And, if he snuggles up next to you, don’t move, or shift, or itch your leg. That also bothers him.
And, as I am not positive if dogs go to doggy heaven or people heaven, please, whichever heaven Kenan manages to smuggle his way into, please help him to find friends. Help him to discover again how amazing he is. Help him to be able to come and go back into our lives as we need him. Help him to remind us that we are not infallible human beings and that we must be grateful for what we have. Help us to be able to sense him when he visits and be able to love and support him, even in spirit.
I have this ridiculous fear that he won’t fit in when he gets to heaven. No matter what dog park we went to here on Earth, he was always the outcast. He was always louder and more vocal than any other dog. He always ran faster without looking than any other dog. And he could never quite take the social cues that the other dogs put off. I hope heaven would be different. I hope in heaven, there are other dogs with curly tails, loud, boisterous voices, and wildly rambunctious crazy runs. I need him to know that he is the king of dogs, in heaven, and in our lives.
I’m desperately afraid that we have made the wrong decision. And I am even more afraid that we have made the right one. Kenan, I love you… More than you could ever know. Thank you for being the best dog, the worst dog, and the most amazing friend I could ask for. I only hope that you can say the same for me.
Three years ago today, was Noah’s due date. It did not, however, end up being his birthday. For some unknown, cruel, and un-Godly reason, doctors think it is appropriate to set a “deadline” of sorts on your pregnancy.
They have some fancy 40-week calendar based on your last period as to when you are expected to have your baby. But babies don’t give a flying flip about this calendar. Babies don’t know when your last period was. Yet, instead of giving a range of dates or a goal to shoot for or even a healthy window of time, doctors give you a flat-out, no nonsense, in your face due date of which you are considered abnormal if you are under or over.
So me, being the freakishly type-A, over-controlling, and detailed-oriented person that I am, now have 9 months (which would turn out to be much longer) to plan for, worry about, and obsess over this very specific date.
Well, as I would learn later (and I am still being reminded of on a daily basis), Noah laughs in the face of deadlines. And July 28th, three years ago, was just another day in the uterus for him.
July 28, 2010 started out as a very exciting day for me. Why, you ask? Because I am good at deadlines and my baby was coming that day. My hospital bag was packed. I had just finished reading “Ina Mae’s Guide to Natural Childbirth” (along with the other 30-some pregnancy books on my nightstand). Baby’s room was good-to-go. All of the onesies had been washed and organized according to size. I was ready.
Noah was not.
July 29, 2010 started out optimistically. I was still prepared but I began googling ways to naturally induce labor. I was still pleasant and exciting when people asked me about my impending family addition.
By July 30th, I was hot (95 degrees in North Carolina summer with 80% plus humidity every day almost killed me), grumpy, and aggravated that I was still pregnant. I had decided that the only thing that would get this baby out of me was to exercise. I went to the gym twice a day and ran 3-4 miles on the elliptical. I couldn’t do the treadmill anymore because my belly stuck out so far that it banged into the front of the machine. The worst part was watching all of the people’s faces as they cautiously tip-toed around me waiting on me to go into labor at any moment.
By the first few days of August, I had basically just accepted the fact that I was going to be pregnant forever. I started snapping at people when they would ask me questions. Even questions totally unrelated to my pregnancy got a hateful response. I was over it.
By August 5th, I had made a list of things people were not allowed to say to me (which basically meant that I stopped answering my phone all together). The list included:
1. Wow! You look like you’re about to pop! (You’ll think “pop” when I punch you in the face.)
2. So, how pregnant are you? (I am just as pregnant as I was 10 minutes ago, ass!)
3. I can’t believe they let you go this long. (It is none of “their” business just like it is none of yours!)
4. I would’ve just scheduled the C-section already. (Really?!?)
5. You better sleep now while you can. (Yeah, it’s really easy to sleep when you have a giant belly, raging hormones, you pee every 13 minutes.)
6. He’ll come when he’s ready. (This just made me angry- no elaboration needed.)
August 6th, my mother-in-law felt really bad for me so she came to town and took me and Matt out to lunch (although I couldn’t eat because there was no more room inside my body because it was full of baby and amniotic fluid). We went on an adventure to Replacements Limited (where a random lady asked me, “So, when’s your due date?” to which I replied (in a voice that probably sounded a little like Satan), “It was 2 weeks ago. Thanks for asking”). It was, however, a nice change of pace.
On August 8th, I went in for an ultrasound and a good cry with my midwife. She assured me that I was still on track and she did a few “midwifery” tricks to help kick start my labor. I woke up at 4am with contractions 2 minutes apart and Noah was born 5 hours later on August 9th.
So, today, on July 28th, I do not celebrate what was assigned to him as his “due date.”
I choose to celebrate:
1. Appreciation and patience- as the best things are truly worth waiting for,
2. Perseverance and Strength- as it would have been so much easier to just give in,
3. Understanding- as I think my husband seriously thought about divorce at least twice, and