Her name was Lola

When I pull into my driveway, I grab my belongings in a hurry, knowing that my dog, Lola, is barking her head off, losing her mind, waiting for me. Except she’s not.

I was her favorite person, her main person. When she came home to us, prancing out of her travel crate like she owned us already, she was just a fluffy puppy, only eight weeks old. I worked from home and she was my constant companion. She slept at the side of my bed. She sprawled in the kitchen while I cooked dinner. She laid under my desk while I worked. She nosed her face under my elbow while I tried to type.

In March, she started limping. It wasn’t unusual for her to limp on occasion. She’d sometimes limp after a long walk or for no reason at all. The vet told me she had arthritis. So I didn’t think too much of it. She was seven years old, an old lady in dog years.

But she didn’t improve. A month later, she had a lump on her wrist. It doubled in size over the course of a weekend, so I took her to the vet on Monday, April 8. After a round of x-rays, the vet told me that Lola had osteosarcoma. Cancer.

“How long?” I asked.

Maybe a week. Maybe six weeks. Probably not more than six weeks. The vet gave me pain medications, two kinds. Our goal was to keep her comfortable.

The first week, my husband said, “I think she’s going to make it longer than six weeks! She’s doing so well!” and it was true. She leaped with joy when I came home. She barked and followed me around. She clearly felt better.

A week later, we had the flood. (See previous post.) The noise and calamity freaked her out. Besides that, though, she was slowing down. My mom reported that Lola just slept all day, waiting for me to get home. When I got home, Lola slept by my bed. She was losing her spark. She panted. I could tell she was in increasing pain.

So, on Friday, April 19, we made an appointment. On Monday, April 22, after work, I drove home with heavy heart, knowing that the end was at hand.

Lola greeted me with joy. I second-guessed myself. Maybe she was fine. Maybe another week. But I knew that I couldn’t allow her to suffer any longer. I began to cry. I hated that she didn’t know what was going to happen–she was so happy I was home–but glad she didn’t know. I felt like a traitor, though.

My husband went with me.

In the waiting room, other people remarked–as they always did–at her beauty. She was anxious and panting. They quickly called us to a room and the vet tech took her back to insert an i.v. and start some sedation. They returned her to us and she sat on my feet. She started to calm down somewhat.

The vet came in. There was paperwork to fill out. Instructions. The vet told me she’d give her something more to relax her. They put a comforter on the floor for her to lie on. The vet left to give us more time.

When she came back, Lola was still standing. She would not lie down. The vet said, “Oh, I know you are feeling it. Just lie down.” I knew she wouldn’t leave me, so I crawled onto the floor, onto the comforter.

“Come here,” I said and she came over, of course, and backed herself onto me until she was sitting on my lap, essentially, the way she always liked to do.

I dug my fingers into her thick fur, stroking her while the vet plunged the needle into the i.v. port. She told me it would be very quick and it was. I felt Lola’s body sag as her spirit left. She vet cradled her head and gently laid it down so she could check for a heartbeat.

Lola was gone.

We fled the room even though they told us we could stay as long as we wanted. I hated leaving her there but I knew she wasn’t there anyway.

I still think she’s waiting for me when I get home.

I miss her.

My name is Lola and I’m waiting for my mom to get home.
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Her name was Lola

The Great Flood of 2019

I was exhausted and thinking about sleep when she knocked lightly on my bedroom door.

“Come in.”

“Mom, there’s water in the bathroom.” Her panicked expression told me more than her words did.

I jumped from bed and ran the few feet to the main bathroom located between the two kids’ bedrooms. I heard the water before I saw it pouring from the cabinet beneath the sink.

I grabbed the handle under the sink and cranked it until the spraying water slowed and finally stopped. Then I assessed the situation. (In other words, I completely freaked out.)

I immediately began grabbing towels–big, small, dirty, clean–soaking up the inches of water on the tile floor and tossing them into the tub.

Though it’s a blur now, it was a blur then, too. I believe I was chanting something like, “OH NO! OH NO! OH NO!” Only hours earlier, our handyman had finished painting the patched drywall on my office ceiling, the site of a previous water leak six months ago.

My daughter watched, asking, “What can I do? What should I do?” and I said, “Towels. Towels. Oh no. Oh no. Oh no.”

Eventually, we drew a crowd–my husband, one of my sons. My son began soaking up water from the carpet. We ran out of towels. Then my daughter appeared again and said, “There’s water coming out of the smoke detector in your office.”

OH NO. I ran downstairs and found a steady stream of water flowing from the smoke detector. I grabbed a giant metal bowl from the kitchen and stood under the stream, catching the water. Now I was completely immobilized and freaking out in place. About that time, my son asked what he should do and I said, “Get a ladder?”

He did and soon I was standing on the metal rungs of a ladder, barefooted, collecting the streaming water. I felt like I was on a Survivor Immunity Challenge. I was sweaty and wet and my feet were in agony.

Then the smoke detector started shrieking. I yanked out the battery while water ran down my arms and the shrieking continued. In fact, every smoke detector in our house joined the mad chorus, blaring and freaking out our poor dog, Lola.

I tried to disconnect the wires from the smoke detector and got a little shock and decided not to electrocute myself.

Eventually, we called a friend–at 9 PM on a Sunday night–and he came over and turned off all the power to the whole house and finally, blessed silence.

But still, water everywhere.

We did what we could–crawling over the floor to use the Wet-Vac and eventually, at midnight, we went to bed.

At 3 AM my husband woke me and told me to come downstairs. That’s when I found water dripping from various spots in the office ceiling and family room ceiling. An entire row of books on my bookshelf were soaking up water like literary sponges.

When the day dawned, I called our homeowner’s insurance and made a claim. I’d had to do this one time before.

This time, it seemed less efficient but two weeks later, we received a substantial check in the mail.

And that’s why I spent the last week packing up my office, packing up books in bedroom bookshelves, moving everything from everywhere so new carpet could be installed. We still have ceiling repairs to do but the house looks pretty great.

I’m not exactly thankful for the Great Flood of 2019, but I am super grateful for insurance and for the beautiful new carpet that I wished I could afford before but never could.

I’m also completely exhausted.

The Great Flood of 2019

I can’t see clearly now (the rain is gone)*

I remember the day, decades ago, when I placed someone’s glasses on my face and saw individually outlined leaves on a tree in the back yard. I hadn’t known I wasn’t seeing clearly.

I can see perfectly now without contacts or glasses but only to read. I’ve spent the last year squinting into the distance, covering one eye and then the next, wondering why I can’t see. It’s made me crabby. I struggle to see my computer screen at work.

My eye doctor has me wearing one contact lens for distances and one for up-close and supposedly my brain will compensate and somehow I will see both near and far.

Nobody told my brain, though. In the distance, I see blurs. Up close, I am squinting and letters float together in a haze. I can’t see here and I can’t see there.

Contacts and glasses used to do the trick. I could see the horizon, across the room and letters in a book. Now I hold a prescription bottle and look hopelessly at the words. There’s no possible way I can read small print unless I have naked eyeballs.

I have to choose. I can either see far away, or across the room or . . . without any correction, twelve inches away.

This feels like life, somehow. I have no clear vision. I don’t see what’s in the distance. I can’t scan the room. If I am blind to everything else, I can read.

Vision for me, was one of those things I took for granted, not ever thinking this day of blurriness would come.

(My new eye doctor, by the way, is convinced he can help but I am convinced that I will soon be wearing contact lenses and “readers” . . . it’s not going to be possible to correct my vision so I can see everything all at once. And I cannot stand the blurriness at the edges–especially when I drive or look at a computer.)

*It’s been a very rainy winter here in San Diego and I have been embittered by the lack of sunshine. But now, today, the sun is shining. The rain is gone.

I can’t see clearly now (the rain is gone)*

It’s not that I’m old, exactly

So many of you suggested (privately or in comments) that I should devote myself to a hobby. I should look forward to retirement! You say I’m not too old to go to school or start something new.

I know. That’s true. (Mostly.)

But what is also true right now is that I have less leisure time than ever before in my life. I literally have three hours at home each day when I’m conscious, but when you subtract cooking and eating dinner, I’m down to two hours, if I’m lucky. (Please don’t start telling me how I could get more done if I were just a little more organized or determined. “Just write a page a day! Just stitch a block a week! Just get it together!”)

I’m tired after working and commuting. I’m not exactly my best self from 6 PM to 9 PM when I’ve been awake since 5:30 AM.

I try to read every night (I am reading Harry Potter novels for the first time and have just started number six). Tell me. When am I suppose to find time to go places and begin new things? I have four kids (mostly grown but still living at home) and a husband who likes me to spend some time with him. When shall I write that novel or stitch together a quilt?

My time has been all chopped up and given out like free samples at Costco.

(I know. You’re thinking what about the weekend? I’m thinking remember how I go to church on Sundays because my husband is the pastor and remember how houses need to be vacuumed and groceries need to be purchased and how time-consuming it is to take the recycling in? And so on and so forth.

There’s nothing to be done about it at this point. What can I do? Not go to work? I mean, I’d say I’m open to ideas but we all know that I’m defensive and will swat down your ideas like a badminton shuttlecock. (That is, to say, wildly and out-of-bounds.)

But whining is pointless, other than the fact that it feels therapeutic to spill whines somewhere. I just keep calm and carry on (as much as possible when you are slightly hysterical about life in general and your life in particular).

It’s not that I’m old, exactly

Not a Stay-At-Home Mom

Working 7:30 AM to 5:00 PM five days a week (with every other Friday off) is a bummer.  I mean, I like my actual work.  I like my actual co-workers.  But I don’t love being tethered to an office for so many waking hours. Nobody does, though.  (Do they?)

Who can be surprised when I spent 10+ years working at home?  I am used to having the weird flexibility to wear pajama pants while I work as The Real Housewives of Dallas plays in the background.  I could literally roll out of bed and four minutes later be online, working.

(Now? I Roll out of bed at 5:30 AM–the sun is not up, but I am!–and then  drive down a crowded California freeway for thirty minutes.  From awake to work takes two solid hours.  Yesterday, I returned home twelve hours after I left. (Please.  Feel sorry for me.)

I just want to be home.

I am old enough, though, to not underestimate the value of health insurance for the whole family, not to mention the sweet thrill of the direct-deposit paycheck every two weeks. So, my soul withers away in a fluorescently lit office while my family asks me, “What’s for dinner?” 

(Indeed.  What is for dinner?  Dinner is a magic trick I pull out of my  Crock-Pot four or five nights a week. Dinner is a conundrum. Dinner is the bane of my existence. Dinner is for losers.  I hate dinner.)

What’s really bumming me out is the dismal thought that this is It.  This is the culmination of my working life and after this, I will just retire (if I’m lucky) and then drop dead. I feel like there is no space for dreaming and imagining a future beyond this job because I am old. 

I mean, no one starts a new career or earns a new degree or writes a first novel when one is 60 years old.  (Does one?)  (I’m not 60 but why quibble over time? Who has time for time-quibbling when one is whining and being generally disagreeable?)

Anyway. So, that’s how it’s going. I want to have a languorous stretch of time in which to think, to stitch, to write, to read, to dream, to . . . avoid cooking dinner.  I know how fast time goes by and I’m mad that I didn’t embrace all those moments from yesterday and last month and three years ago and the decade before that.

And I’m mad that I don’t have time today to do anything that really matters to me (though I did write this blog post and on my gosh, how good does it feel to just spill some words onto the computer screen?).

Slow down, speed up, wait.  I just want to look around for a minute. Can we just stop the clock?

Not a Stay-At-Home Mom

The Sky is Falling

I never believed the world was ending in when the calendar rolled from 1999 to 2000.  I joked about it at the time, saying my family could survive on the goldfish crackers scattered in my car and the murky water standing in the plastic sandbox in our back yard. I made no other preparations.

I had no fear. The world would go on . . . how could it not? I had little kids in my house and the world does not stop when there are snacks to prepare and bubbles in the bathwater and Nintendo video games to play. 

I was thirty-five years old.

Almost twenty years later, I look around, shocked that everyone is carrying on as if the world isn’t ending. I am fifty-three years old. Time is fleeting.  (That’s putting it mildly.)  Even though summer just ended a minute ago, this Friday I will put up Christmas decorations. 

Then it will be summer again. My daughter will turn 17-years old. My husband will turn 60.  I’ll be 85 before you know it and why is everything just whizzing by so fast? 

I mean, okay. Deep breath.

Right now, my daughter is 16.  None of my adult kids have actually moved out of the house. I can still run up and down the stairs. I’m gainfully employed. My husband is beloved by all (and actually only 57). I am reading Harry Potter at long last. Our Thanksgiving turkey is in the fridge and I will have both Thursday and Friday off.

I saw the sunset tonight. Let’s just all calm down.

(But honestly. Doesn’t it bother anyone but me that our lives are finite? That one day we’ll be gone with nothing to show for our lives but a closet full of clothes that our next-of-kin will box up and donate to a thrift store?)

The sky is falling.

Or maybe that was just an acorn hitting my head.



The Sky is Falling

Lost and found

One of my personality flaws is believing I can do “just one more thing” before I leave my house. If I decide on a Friday night to buy a movie ticket for a 10:45 AM showing of “A Star is Born” the next morning, I will also believe I can wake up and:

  1. Hike my usual hour-long trail;
  2. Fold a load of laundry, move wet clothes into the dryer and throw dirty clothes into the washer;
  3. Wash the dishes I should have washed the night before;
  4. Vacuum;
  5. And so on and so forth.

That is why last Saturday morning at 10:32 AM, I was hurrying down the stairs to grab my key so I could speed to the movie theater.

I reached into the outside pocket of my purse where I always keep my car key. I NEVER lose my keys because I always put them in the same place: the outside pocket of my purse.

You see where this is going.

NO KEY.

I was already sweaty from my walk and the morning chores I really didn’t have time to do and I grew more and more sweaty as I emptied my purse then ran upstairs to see if I left the key on my dresser and then out to the garage to see if I left the key on the car (I know–that makes no sense). Then I emptied my purse twice more, checked the pocket of the pants I wore to work the day before.

I could not find my key.

I told myself that lost things are almost always within inches of where you believe they are.  I either made that up or I read it somewhere (and it was a scientific study).  (Oh, here it is: Lost objects are within 18 inches of their original location.)

I asked my son if he would drive me to the theater–figuring I would work out the lost key issue later–and also called my husband (who was working) to see if I left my key in his car. (This also makes no sense.)  Just as my son came down the stairs to drive me, I lifted up my purse and found my key under it.

It was under my purse the whole time.

Lost and found.

(I sat down in my reserved movie seat two full previews before the opening of the movie even though I left my house at 10:45.)

*

In other news, I transferred from one job to another at the police department. I am now working in Records–which is about as exciting as you imagine it is. The whole situation was unexpected and maybe not exactly what I would have chosen for myself, but I am choosing to see the bright side. For one thing, I like monotonous, continuous work.  I do. It’s the sequential part of me that likes order and putting things in order. I’ll start a task at my desk, look up and two hours have passed.

I no longer have to wear an ugly uniform or work holidays. I have my very own cubicle and I can see the sky while I work if I look up from my scanning long enough. The ladies in my department are kind and I find it entertaining to work in cubicles with an all-women staff (there are less then ten of us). I’ll hear someone walk to someone’s cubicle and start talking loud enough for me to eavesdrop and then the voices drop to a murmur and that makes me laugh.

By the way, I just finished reading a terrible book which I won’t link to because what if the author came by (ha ha) and found a mean thing about her book but honestly! I was stuck reading it in my Kindle forever because I was weirdly committed to finishing it. And the ending was worse than the beginning.

My husband told me I don’t have enough time left in my life to read bad books and . . . well, that’s true but isn’t it also depressing beyond belief?  Death is coming.

Death is coming for me and I just know I will be rushing around as I slide from this life to the Great Beyond absolutely convinced I can do just one more thing before I go.

That’s why I’ll be late for my own funeral.

Lost and found