Don’t live as if you have the time

I can’t believe I am about to say this…but…I might have actually taken a very deep learning point away from a cheesy reality show yesterday afternoon.  While watching one of the many Real Housewives sagas, I observed an older couple visiting a cemetery monument store, where they picked out the headstone for the woman’s recently deceased parents.  Both parents died within the prior seven months and during the headstone selection process, the woman talked about hoping she would have another twenty years with her own husband.

I sat and processed the moment.  I reflected on my own life.  Most people are living as if they have unlimited time left on this earth.  Time to be with the ones they love, which usually results in taking people for granted.  A lot of people (myself most definitely included) put off major changes they want to make because we feel as if we can tackle certain issues tomorrow, or the next day, or the next year.  I don’t think I am alone in that but the mere fact that I acknowledge it allows for improvement.  Also, days drift along and we are all sometimes guilty of wanting time to rush by, in order to get closer to a vacation or a promotion.  Sitting here writing, I realize how precious time is.  My most recent reminder came from my neighbor Mark’s cancer battle.  Although he was initially told he wouldn’t live past Christmas of 2018, he is still above ground and fighting.  He is self-admittedly living day by day and I truly believe there is a lot to be learned from that style of appreciation for our loved ones, our experiences and our beautiful planet.

As the woman on the RHOP (Potomac series, the true Real Housewives fans get it) said about her own relationship, I too have the same recurring thought from time to time about having my spouse around for the remainder of my life.  Hugo is the most wonderful person I know and love and I sincerely hope that we have at least fifty years or more left together on this crazy planet.  I can’t imagine what life would be like without him so he better be there to keep me centered ♥

Familial friendship

Just because you are family, doesn’t mean you are friends.

My mom and I have uttered that phrase many times throughout the years.  We normally mention it when we are chatting about the fact that we are such close friends and how we find our tight relationship to be quite a rarity among family members.  Among all of my friends, coworkers and outlying family, none of those people share the love and bond that my mom and I have.  We see a lot of surface-level interactions, where people are cordial, polite and relatively kind to one another, but nothing that remotely exhibits real friendship.  Maybe it is just our family, although I believe these types of things occur in a lot of other family circles, but I see more fake bullshit, jealousy, arrogance and rude behavior than I see genuine kindness and love from some of my aunts and uncles, not only to myself but more so to my mother.

Throughout the years, I have seen several of my aunts and uncles, including my mother’s only sister and her dorky husband, treat my mother as if she was less than in every respect.  Despite my mom being the older sibling, who has always cared for and loved her little sister, my aunt has routinely spoken condescendingly and disrespectfully both to and about my mother.  As my mother’s daughter, I hate this.  I am really sickened by anyone who mistreats my mother, who is such a kind and loving woman.  My mother would give you the shirt off of her back (in fact she has with children in need in South America) and she exudes love and happiness every day that she walks through life.  She greets all those she comes in contact with on a daily basis with a smile, generosity, friendliness and a feeling of genuine realness that is too often lacking in human interactions these days.  I believe that my aunt acts the way she does because she is an insecure person who is unhappy with herself and jealous of the beautiful relationship that I have with my mother.

Despite the lack of relationships that I have observed in both my own family and countless others, I am so thankful for the lovely mother that I have.  From the love, guidance, grace and endless support she gave me as a growing girl, to the friendship and pure fun we have during our visits throughout the year, I am so grateful for her in my life.  As both of my parents are in Poland right now, and I am even further from them geographically than I normally am cross-country, I am sending love to those two wonderful people in my life.  May their bellies be full with fresh perogies and their hearts full of happiness…and should they choose to order the pig cheek from the room service menu for a late-night snack, I hope it brings a smile to their face.

 

*6:59pm update:  I almost forgot.  My intention with this blog post of the next was to make a commitment to write a little more and to truly make this one of my more important and present priorities.  Now that school is done and the pups are getting older, and therefore mildly more independent, I have a little more free time that I want and need to devote to this passion project.  So join me on this journey as I pledge to write more frequently – don’t hold me to it if I miss a day or two though, ok?

 

Thank you and I love you

A thank you letter to the men in my life:

Dad – Thank you for loving your only daughter so wholly and fully, without judgement towards me as a woman or pressure to be something else.  Thank you for allowing and encouraging me to dream big and about whatever I wanted.  Those dreams ranged from being an orthopedic surgeon to being a police officer and you supported all of them in their own right.  Never once did you say that since I am a female, maybe I would be better suited for this or that.  I can’t tell you how much that eternal belief in my ability to succeed and do whatever I wanted has impacted me in every aspect of my life.  I wouldn’t be as strong, independent and proud to be female without having had you as my father.

Hugo – Thank you for loving me as your wife and, more importantly, as your friend and equal partner.  Since joining our lives together at twenty years old, you always look at me as we stand, side by side, as equals.  I was never a woman in your eyes, I was a person who you loved.  As I dreamed of how to proceed professionally in my life, you supported it all, without missing a beat or questioning if I could handle it.  You pushed me to push myself and I thank you for your love and friendship.  As we have watched friends condescend on their spouses through the years, my heart is whole knowing that you have always spoken so proudly of me as your wife and encouraged my success as a strong female in the world.  You are a shining example of how men should treat women and you do it every day without even trying.

To the two men who have loved me for the entirety of my thirty-four years on Earth – one of you picked up where the other one left off.  After Dad raised me, Hugo became my partner in crime after moving out of my childhood home.  Your similarities are great, in that you both have pure, generous hearts, and your love knows no bounds.  I’m not sure how I got so lucky to have the two of you in my circle but I must have done something right in my prior life.

Love, K

You might wonder where all of my thankful, female rambles originated from tonight…well, here is a little back story.  After Hugo and I finished watching The Haunting of Hill House, which is absolutely wonderful by the way, another #MeToo movement moment flashed on the news feed.  We chatted briefly about this never-ending phenomenon and it occurred to me that I have been extraordinarily lucky to have been raised and loved by such genuinely wonderful men.  As I watch so many other women be demeaned, belittled and degraded by those close to them and predators alike, I am grateful for the love and support I have always received.  I only hope that men and women continue to raise their children with a remarkable sense of love, support and purpose.  Then, one day, they can hand their children, now all grown up, off to someone who will continue the good work those parents have done.

With love in my heart and all around me, goodnight ♥

I spoke too soon…

Just as fast as I posted my last thoughts today, Hugo agreed to getting a second puppy!!  We will now be getting the first pick male (boy pick of the litter, if you will) from the next batch of puppies slated to be whelped in late December with our breeder.  Our girl will now have a best friend for life, permanent wrestling opponent and partner in crime as it relates to chewing on our newly renovated kitchen cabinets.  I can’t wait to see what fun and joy the next chapter brings ♥

Adjust as needed

In my line of work, there is a phrase used as a catch-all on a routine basis.  Adjust as needed is commonly slapped on the tail-end of our project plans, in order to cover the contingency aspect if things happen to change.  Supervisors alike will say, “Just adjust as needed, depending on circumstances,” making the act of changing plans on the fly sound like a simple task.

Over these past two months, life as Hugo and I know it has changed drastically.  Things, most of which were out of our control, have changed and we are desperately trying to adjust as best we can.  Our house is quiet and lacking energy after the passing of sweet Kaiser and Nala.  We miss them so incredibly much and the feelings make me sick.  Every time I look at my cell phone, Nala’s precious black and white photo adorns the lock screen.  She is staring back at me as if to say, “I’m right here.”  It’s just that she’s not right here with me and I wish she was.  I might have needed her more than she needed me in life and I feel a little lost without my two little love bugs.  Thank God and the Perseids that I have Hugo as my best friend and partner in crime.  I can’t imagine the sickening state I would be in if he ever left my life.

Two nights ago I emailed five different breeders, as well as the Rottweiler Rescue of Los Angeles.  Simple inquiries about puppy availability and the age of some rescues, that’s all.  I feel guilty for even having considered new puppies to join our family.  Nala and Kaiser won’t be replaced though.  In due time, however, we will find someone, or someones, to bring into our family again.  We have a lot of love to give and it would be a shame to waste that.  Even when we have had dogs, we still have more love to give.  One day we plan to build a barn and fill it with a couple of horses, chickens and whoever else strikes our fancy.  Hugo has suggested an emu or rescue pig so who knows.  Whomever joins our ever-expanding family will most surely be met with open arms and a warm heart.

As we lose those we love, I realize just how much we have learned from and grown with the animals that spent all of their years in our lives.  Hugo and I got Kaiser as soon as we returned from our wedding party in Costa Rica.  Prior to getting married in Los Angeles and flying to Costa Rica to celebrate with our family, there was Marley Bear.  Marley was our first Rottweiler, who drove cross-country with us during our big move and occupied our first 800 sq. ft. apartment.  We were three peas in a pod until she passed away from kidney failure while we were out of the country.  Marley was only five years old when she passed away – her death didn’t hit me in exactly the same way because we never saw her suffer badly, she died suddenly, without warning, and we weren’t present for any of it since she was staying with our neighbor in our absence.  Marley was a tough girl who lived in frigid northern Vermont, wearing gortex booties on the frozen asphalt for walks, and lived in three different states as I bounced around during my college years.  She taught me to be flexible and to let some things go.  Most importantly, Marley showed us how to live in the moment because you never know when all of this bright and sparkly reality will disappear.

Nala and Kaiser gave us nine beautiful years as a family of four.  Hugo and I realized the other day that they grew with us so beautifully as we all evolved into adults together.  We almost made it one decade, during that time Hugo and I accomplished a lot, matured into adults and forged an even stronger bond and clearer path with one another.  We bought and sold houses, advanced tremendously with our careers, and grew to love one another on a surreal level.  And when it was all said and done, we couldn’t have done it without Nala and Kaiser’s love.

How quickly things change

Not even twenty-four hours ago, I was sitting here writing about Nala’s resilience.  Well, today, just after noon, her time finally came to an end.  As I stood in the kitchen cleaning the grounds out of our coffee grinder, I heard a shrill cry come from Nala as she speedily ascended our brick stairs.  I ran over to her as she was standing, weakly balancing on three legs, in the living room.  Her body was shaking and she looked miserable.  I yelled for Hugo, who ran over to us, and we both knew that it was time.  Nala’s cancerous shoulder had finally snapped and she was suffering.  We loaded her into the Jeep and off we went to the vet to put our second puppy down in less than two months.

What a miserable experience this has been.  She was in such pain at the vet’s office, I asked them if there was anything they could give her to relax her and ease her discomfort.  The vet returned with a shot that ended up almost knocking her out, because when they wheeled her back into the room after inserting her catheter for euthanasia, her eyes were in a hard, fixed position, as her tongue flopped two inches out of her mouth without care.  We hated to see her like this but at least she was out of pain.

As the vet administered the two-shot series, Hugo and I hugged her and cried as she parted with us.  I pet the single white hair that sat just to the left of her eye.  That white hair sprouted up months ago and refused to fall out.  It was just as resilient as her spirit, that literally fought to the bitter end.

 

Pound cake for Tootie

I picked up the remains of Kaiser today and brought him home.  His ashes, tucked safely away in a little wooden box, sat quietly on my front seat – one last car ride together as I sobbed uncontrollably.  When Hugo came home from an early morning fishing trip, we hugged and sobbed once more together.  Prior to his arrival, I set the bag from the vet, containing Kaiser and his clay paw print, down on the rug in our living room right where he used to lay.  This spot was loved by Kaiser, where he routinely lied down and flipped over onto his back, by gripping the side of the couch with his strong paw and leveraging his body weight to flop over into his most favorite, comfortable position.  Anyways, call me a little crazy, but it felt right to set him down there for a few minutes.  Nala came over and smelled the bag intently – she knew it was her old pal.  He had come home.

For some reason, I wanted to do a little baking this afternoon, almost as a final gift for Kaiser to celebrate how much we loved him.  I am not sure if that makes sense and quite frankly, I don’t really care.  We had leftover buttermilk that didn’t have a use to us, after Hugo bought it for cast-iron pan cornbread last week (absolutely delicious).  A quick Google search produced this gem of a recipe – Buttermilk Pound Cake.  I sliced some strawberries and dusted our slices with powdered sugar.  Hugo and I ate two fat pieces each and didn’t have one guilty feeling between us.  We cheers’ed with our fork and spoon, as a nod to our beloved Tootie (Kaiser’s silly nickname), and I gave Nala a tiny morsel so she could partake in the happy moment.  We decided that the pound cake satisfied our dinner void and called it a night.