Finding the Little Gifts

As it happens in life, I had a week that began at a very low point and then climbed to a high point. Last Sunday I shed many tears. I hugged goodbye my dear friends who had traveled coast to coast to ron de vous with us at our son’s college football game. While we enjoyed our time together (despite the 63-3 loss), our weekend visit was cut short. We needed to return home to be with our very ill Kitty. My heart was torn, pulled toward wanting to spend time with old friends we rarely get the chance to see, and desperately needing to comfort Kitty and assess her declining condition.

The moment we got home reality set in that no amount of petting and cuddling was going to take away her pain. All we could do is just be with her, tell her how much we love her, and then do the right thing. Monday was the excruciating day that my husband and I brought Kitty to the vet. Exhausted from an emotional night and morning, we napped in the afternoon. I looked at the clock and it was time to pick up the puppies from the groomer. I had barely even groomed myself, no makeup or shower that day. I knew the moment that I picked up the dogs, the energy would change. The thought of snuggling their soft clean furry faces in my hands made me drive just a little bit faster.

As I waited in the front lobby I made the decision to share the sad news about Kitty passing with the people at the front desk. I choked on the words, just as the pair of perfectly coifed black aussiedoodles pitter pattered out the door. One look at me and they jumped up onto my legs, leaving all previous training aside. They were as happy to see me, as I was to see them. Grabbing their leashes, holding in my tears, I trotted them out to the parking lot. We sat there exchanging kisses and cuddles much longer than I usually do at pickups.

That night my family also felt the need for more affection from the pups. Koda and Summer gave us all that we were seeking. They even climbed up onto the sofa and nudged their noses against my lap where Kitty usually sat. I ran my hand back and forth over their soft curls. The emptiness in my heart on Monday was the worst. Each following day, my strength and resilience grew. Koda and Summer played a critical part in that healing.

On Wednesday night a rare and special thing happened. I had all four of my kids here under the same roof. We did not get the chance to sit together for a meal as everyone had different schedules. But the fact that my son came home from college for fall break, and my other children were home was enough to give me that MamaBear feeling of contentment. The storm came through our area, we remained unaffected aside from some cancelled plans. Then our weekend highlight was celebrating our youngest’s 19th birthday with friends at our cabin. Laughter, music, and fun ended a week that began so differently.

I spoke with my mother on the phone during the week. As daughters do, I tearfully took her through the tough days I had just experienced. The words of wisdom she shared on this call from California stuck with me. She acknowledged the heartbreak I was suffering, and then brought to my attention the “gifts” of this time. Gifts? That made me stop and think.

We got to spend several days laughing, crying, and sharing stories with our lifelong friends. They got to visit with my children, and see our son live out his dream of playing college football. That special time together was certainly a gift.

Then seeing my children comfort one another in such loving ways as we prepared to say goodbye to Kitty. That too was a gift.

Bringing home Koda and Summer, who we added into our family just about 6 months ago. Their love for us and our attachment to them in this short time is also quite a gift.

My family under the same roof, this is always a gift.

Finally our week came to an end with our baby celebrating his 19th birthday with a dozen friends at our cabin. All who came care about our son, were happy to meet the puppies, and turned out to be our last gift of this difficult week.

Maybe the one gift I left out is the loving message about finding gifts during challenging times that came from my 78 year old mother over the telephone. I am so grateful for her in my life. She was right. It was a difficult week for our family, but there were little gifts along the way.

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