It’s been a lifetime since I’ve seen you but I feel your absence constantly;  sometimes a dull ache, sometimes suddenly and so sharply I can’t breathe.  I wonder where you are and what you’re doing, who you’re spending Christmas with and whether you pause for even five seconds to think of the daughter you abandoned.  Do you know that I still love you and miss you, despite my best efforts to pretend you never existed?  Do you wonder what happened to me and whether I’m happy?  Or do you somehow know that I’m as damaged as you are;  following in your footsteps in so many unintentional ways.  Do you understand what your abandonment did to me?  Do you understand that I can’t shake the feeling I’m so worthless my own father didn’t … couldn’t? …  love me?

Your absence is a hole I can’t fill, no matter how much I hurt myself to try to manage the pain and blunt the force of my feelings.  I hope that 2012 is the year I learn how to move past this and find a way to heal.  The most fucked up thing is that I would go through all the abuse and bullying and terror again if I could have just 5 more minutes with you telling me I was your little girl and you loved me.

Merry Christmas, Daddy, wherever you are.

my last Christmas with Dad


She sits on the couch in complete darkness, hugging a worn pillow so tightly her fingers go numb.  The silence is sharp and she imagines she can actually hear the tears as they escape despite her best effort.  She flinches at the wetness and vows to imprison her emotions more tightly; even as she feels the pressure building in her chest, even as breathing becomes more difficult because of the force of her feelings.  She knows it’s a lost cause.

She’s been misunderstood most of her life.  They assume that she doesn’t feel anything because she’s so shut down, when really she shuts down because she feels too much, way too much, and she’s learned the hard way that showing emotion is the quickest way to be preyed on and picked clean of any sense of self.

So she sits alone in cold darkness and soothes herself with worn pillows and promises that tomorrow will be better, oh yes it will, and that it’s safe to allow this moment of grief for what was — and what will never be.  Some things can’t be fixed, no matter how hard she begs, bargains or wishes for things to be different.  She can’t glue herself back together when chunks of her innocence were eaten by soul cannibals who only wanted to make her bleed.

Yes, it’s better to be alone, she whispers to herself.  And resolutely ignores the fact that she aches for it to be otherwise.


(this was originally posted under my blog

Three years ago today, I said goodbye to my furkid Bailey.  I sat on the cold floor and played with him while the sedative they gave him took effect; telling him how much I loved him and what an amazing companion he was.  As he closed his eyes for the last time, I held him on my lap, trying to stop the tears because I didn’t want his last memory of me to be one of sadness.  I held his paws as he was given the lethal injection, then held my breath until his heart stopped.  The vet said Bailey might whimper after he had passed, but he didn’t.  He wagged his tail, as if even then he was comforting me, telling me it was okay.  His suffering was finally over but mine had just begun.  I had just lost my best friend and instead of holding on, I had to let go.

Bailey was a terrier mutt that started off his life being abandoned by his (so-called) guardians and being fed chocolate by neighbors to try to kill him.  If anyone had a right to be distrustful, he did.  Yet when I wandered into the Humane Society that day, he was all tail wags and happy barks.  Even in a cage, his spirit was contagious.  I had gone there on a whim and wasn’t looking for a dog — but the minute I looked into his brown eyes, I knew I was meant to be his guardian.  There was a couple in front of me who were considering adopting him and I thought I’d lost him.  But for some reason I returned to the humane society a couple hours later and he was still there.  No hold.  He was free to come home with me.

Like I said, the minute I saw him, I knew.  And I’ve never been more right about anything in my entire life.  He was my best friend and constant companion.  He was unconditional love in a thirty-pound bundle of fur.  His devotion got me through some very dark nights and, quite literally, kept me alive.  I would be struggling with suicidal thoughts and he would put his head on my leg, or lick the tears on my face, and I would remember that someone loved me and needed me.  I couldn’t — wouldn’t — abandon him.

He loved me when I couldn’t love myself.

One warm August afternoon, I entered my room to find an 8 year old Bailey on my bed having a seizure.  I didn’t know what to do so I just sat next to him and spoke soothingly.  It ended fairly quickly, and I thought that was it.  I was wrong.  He had another seizure half an hour later, so my Mom and I took him to the emergency vet hospital.  They said the odds were that it was a brain tumor because he was too old to suddenly have epilepsy.  That day, the nightmare started.  Different doctors and different diagnoses; high-priced meds and special testing.  All of this was taking its toll on me financially, but I was determined to do whatever  necessary to save him.

The worst part was the toll this was taking on Bailey.  It had only been three months, but it was obvious he was tired.  He was still having seizures — in fact he had one on his 9th birthday.  The seizures started to get more severe, and it was taking him longer and longer to come out of them afterward.  The day before I euthanized him, he had two seizures, and after the last one he wasn’t himself for almost an hour.  I called the vet and he said to keep an eye on him and if he had any more, to bring him in.  The next day, he had two seizures again, and for the first time in his life he growled at me.  It was like he didn’t know who I was.  I rushed him to the vet’s office and after spending some time alone with Bailey, the vet came back to the exam room and told me it was “time.”  I said I didn’t want to give up on him, and the vet told me I wasn’t; I was letting go so his pain would end.  I made the hardest decision I’ve ever made that night.  To save him, I had to let him go.  I tell myself I made the right decision  – Bailey was fading and suffering — but even today I still feel the weight of my decision.  It hurts in places that light will never reach.

But I don’t regret one second of the time I had with him and even knowing how soon it would end, I would walk into the humane society over and over again.  I was beyond lucky to have him in my life.  He taught me about patience and joy and living for the moment.  One of the biggest regrets I have is that I didn’t take a lot of photos of him, and I’ve remedied that with my furkid Sam, and with Oreo at the end of his life.  Thanks to the lessons I learned from Bailey, I’m a better guardian.

My favorite memory of him and I is when I would howl like a wolf and then he would join in.  It annoyed everyone who was unlucky enough to be in the vicinity (yes, we did this in public), but he loved it.  Only a dog with soul could howl like that.  I love you, Bailey.  Always and forever.  Thank you.

Certainly grief is the price we all pay for love.” –Gretchen Jackson (Barbaro’s owner)

my Bailey

They brought you home to me in the plain pine box this morning, sealed for your protection.  Gently, they handed me your box, and something ripped open inside of me as I felt the weight of it; you are almost heavier in death than you were in life.  My pretty kitty has come home to me after braving the hot fire; he has returned to me in pine and ash.  I will place the box with the faux gold plate declaring “Oreo” on my mantle but I know your spirit is not there.  Your spirit is free of the pine box and the earthly pain.  You are somewhere chasing ribbons in green grass and swishing your tail at butterflies.

They brought you home to me in ashes but my love carefully reconstructs and returns you whole in my heart.

I am forever your guardian.

(this was originally posted under my blog

%d bloggers like this: