Like Words Together Reflections from the deep end of Practice.

12May/210

Resiliency Day

Mother's Day came with a sense of heaviness. The usual feeling of not belonging with those who celebrate their mothers nor with those grieving mothers who have died. Instead there's this reminder of mothering that nurtured and fostered growth.

CK, estranged again from her Mother, felt grumpy she realized in the afternoon. I had her go through a box of clothing, none of which fit anymore which reminded her of how active she was a decade ago, before her lungs stopped worked as well. Then we talked some move logistics. All that, and Mother's Day, was hard.

We got through it and took care of each other. I forgot to order flowers earlier, then tried to get them delivered yesterday so they'd be there when I got home from therapy, but don't complete the order. Friday they're coming too remind us both what God job we've done raising ourselves.

As of today we're vaccinated and past the waiting week. I'll continue to mask, only I'll allow myself cloth masks instead of my respirator.

2May/210

Shame & Restarting

April feels a little lost. Dora getting so sick at the beginning of the month, then having to make the decision to let her go, then COVID vaccines, and seeing a neurologist for CK.

And then it was May second. I'm wondering where the days went, what're my routine and energy went for notes, tracking to help me not miss things, and any energy for poetry. Visual art still was made, even managing to participate in a co-creative collaboration with five other artists!

With the derailment comes shame. The Whinnie part of my brain cannot understand why I just can't do the tasks on my list without getting stuck. Without needing hours of downtime. Without getting distracted by talking to people, making art, or, the worst, napping.

I got the calendar out and doodled on some prior weeks' pages so I'm not focusing on how empty they are. I made notes about this week's accomplishments and started listing what needs doing next week.

Maybe this will be the week I get to DEQ.

17Apr/210

Comics as Diary

Attended an awesome session online today about using comics as a form of personal diary. Mari Naomi, an artist I've come to appreciate, shared how she uses this approach.

She draws one each morning, taking no more than 10 minutes. She uses something from the previous day as inspiration. She showed us a bunch of things she's drawn and then we all drew together!

Nearly 300 people of all descriptions drawing from the same prompt together! Definitely a win for pandemic technology hacks.

The Believer magazine has been facilitating these, they call it Friday Night Comics. Today's experience is likely to turn me into a subscriber.

12Apr/210

Grief’s Home

Since my Bedside Yoga training retreat in late 2018 I've been thinking about grief living in a room in the heart. All grief comes into this tiny room, large at first and new. It takes a while, but slowly the edges of the grief become less sharp. The grief grows smaller, possibly fainter.

Each time a new grief enters the room, looming and crashing and heavy and sharp and hard, it awakens all the grief that's come before.

The old welcomes the new. The integration continues.

I tried making art about this the past couple of days.

Not teaching the next two days. Catching up on rest, chores, and email instead.

Grieving.

Losing three companion animals in 10 months while trying to survive a pandemic and planning to leave the country while your sewer needs repairs and your wife has a mystery autoimmune disorder is too much.

6Apr/210

Vaccination Street

We got our first round of the Pfizer vaccine today. Gosh my arm hurts all the way through my jaw, neck, and head and down to the hand, even the ribs on the injection side ache. The redness went away, still a little swollen. Both of us have headaches too.

So strange to be in the Oregon Convention Center, in the space we last experienced as an OSCON vendor hall, getting a shot.

Surreal, beautiful moment; walking into the OCC on a sunny, warm, April afternoon with a steady stream of people. Everyone masked, us in our respirators with cloth masks secured over the exhaust. Cherry blossom petals floating on the breeze around us all.

I commented to CK that I felt like we were in some post-apocalyptic, Japanese anime movie. Only the apocalypse is present and we're all staggering forward together. Well, most of us are trying to anyway.

Dora does not have cancer. She does have extremely bad pancreatitis and needs special food. She's eating the special food though; the vet fed her some and she ate some more for me at bedtime. She also walked up the stairs!

And then I got an email that shares with us a generous gift. It arrives at such a fortunate time and will make everything that needs to happen the next few months easier.

I was so overwhelmed, "verklempt" CK reminded me of this word, that I couldn't articulate to CK what was in the email. She grew quite alarmed for a moment as I struggled to get the word "good" out of my mouth and thrust my phone at her so she could just read the email. Then I sat down on the sofa and blubbered incoherently for a bit. Then I managed to text our dear friend a jumbled message of gratitude.

Then I opened a special bottle of bubbly wine!

It's been a rollercoaster the past couple of weeks. I'm grateful to be on it, especially in my "half-baked" (1 shot in of 2, when you're "fully baked") state.

Petals float by us.
Steady stream of masked people.
We walk carefully.

5Apr/210

Small Wonders

My unemployment benefits claim expired yesterday. I filed today anyway; I guess I should have made sure to do it yesterday?

Now we begin cancelling things we don't really use or need. My Audible monthly credit, cable premium channels since we've switched out of watching most of those. Rather like going through boxes and getting rid of things so we don't have to move them, cutting down expenses to support our new life.

CK's company has started the process of relocation. It begins with an offer package being prepared for what she'd get in Canada. Once that's ready we'll have some meetings. It's most likely I'll then have my contact to manage this project.

Suddenly late autumn seems very close.

And Dora is not better. She's drank a little on her own today, but still won't eat. I steamed a yam up and we tried that. She thought it smelled better, but still won't eat.

It's misery to watch her like this. If I look for too long into Dora's eyes I just start crying. The dog who will always wag her tail if you ask her is listless and barely responsive. When we told our vet all this today she was disappointed that Dora hasn't rebounded more. In the morning I'll take her back to the vet for an ultrasound to try and understand what's going on.

We discussed if this is even the right thing; if we should instead be planning her death. Neither of us has experience with dogs in this regard and if a cat was behaving like this, it would be a sign they were done living, much like Obie did this past November.

Our vet is very direct with us and she thinks there is a chance it could be pancreatitis, very acute and bad. Fluids and appetite stimulants might her her back on her feet. We also could find out she has intestinal tumors or another cancer that would be treatable, like Obie was, for many weeks.

We're preparing ourselves nonetheless and honestly reflecting on how it will be easier moving with one less animal companion. We're going to be renting for at least a month; 2 companions will be easier to negotiate than 3. Bertie has Ursa to keep him company and once we have vaccines, perhaps I can take him to bulldog play dates again.

The unemployment, the COVID, the moving, the dog, the cats we lost; it's all just feeling like so much. I allowed myself to not do today's planned chore. I've just felt heavy and miserable much of today.

The positives; the beautiful, Spring sunshine shining on and through flowers outside the window while I teach. The tender email from a friend about making our "bubble" really official and what that means in terms of keeping CK safe.

When grief is loud, large,
Delight is almost hidden.
Small wonders break through.

4Apr/210

When Nothing Feels Right

Dora has eaten a little today. A few tablespoons of boiled chicken breast and white rice mixed together. She went poop too, she's just been going out on our deck which is honestly easier on both of us than my carrying her up and down the stairs.

She's still really out of it, but the little bit of change is an improvement. She's sleeping in front of me at the moment I began this, in one of the dog beds in the living room. She stayed there much of the day, I'll lift her onto the bed when I go to bed soon.

I had a moment of grief overload this morning kicked off by a moment's reflection on the lousy way my first ex-husband behaved. It's something I'm really over, but just the reminder of it as Dora wasn't eating on top of the COVID fatigue and Igal's death anniversary soon upon us. It was all just too much for a moment.

I've also felt really down on myself today, like I can do nothing right. Earlier, after lunch, CK told me an idea for an easy dinner. I totally missed it and kept on trying to make something that took considerably longer and by the time it was done I then realized it wasn't sounding very good to her at all.

I'd made fried rice, but we've both been trying to get Dora to eat rice and chicken all day. Having had sticky rice on her hands all day, trying to have rice for dinner just wasn't working for her.

I'm feeling exhausted and dejected, but that wakes up a ferocious round of "the Whinnie" in me and I feel like I can do nothing right.

Trying to honor my desire to do my 30-Poems-in-30-Days by once again writing haiku. In the past I've tried to write them about nature, the seasons, the moon; more traditional topics. This year, inspired by a sympathy card a dear friend sent after the death of one of our cats, which contained a haiku from Massahide, I am trying to write them about the inner landscape.

Anger boils over,
Seething volcano fury,
Inside I am ash.

3Apr/210

Hoping for Pancreatitis

I took Dora to the vet before 8am this morning. She has "unremarkable" bloodwork and they can hear bowel sounds; making an obstruction unlikely. We're hoping it's only pancreatitis, which is manageable if we can get her over this flareup. She got more Cerenia and fluids and tablets of Cerenia came home with us.

That said, she still hasn't eaten anything. She's had some water, but is still clearly uncomfortable. I have reminders to give her medication at 11am so we stay on top of her symptoms.

I'm exhausted and the last thing I want to do is write poetry. I've also been failing at writing journals during the day. I napped, but then I stay up late to finish everything I'd wanted to get done.

I also realize we're coming up on the anniversary of Igal's death and I have this wave of spring sadness amidst the cherry blossoms. It's also this abrupt shift of my Mother's birthday celebration in Hawaii and a few weeks later Igal's death which seemed to trigger the rapid disintegration of her behavior.

April melancholy.
Cherry blossoms softly fall.
Tender memories.

2Apr/210

Grief Arrives

Last night we had some hope for Dora, the fluids and Cerenia had lifted her up so much that she was wagging her tail, eating, and drinking. It felt like we made the right decision bringing her home without the excessively priced blood work and x-ray.

This morning she once again refused food and really didn't drink water all day either. CK started giving her water from a dropper and Dora then decided she'd drink about 1/2 cup of water. Thankfully we did get through to our vet and they're seeing her tomorrow.

I carried her outside to pee tonight and upstairs to the bed afterward. She walked around outside and went pee alright. We're still kind of hoping she's got some kind of infection, since she had a mild fever, and will rebound back.

We're also painfully aware that we have a 15 year old dog and there's a good chance she might just be at the end of her life. CK and I have talked through our belief in not pursuing treatment for things like cancer requiring surgery, particularly in our older companions. As painful as it is, we both realize that often intensive care for companion animals is much more about the "parent" than it is about the happiness of the animal.

Being in this state of urgency around a companion's health for the third time in less than 10 months feels pretty wretched.

Grief Train

Grief arrives
Like a train.

Sometimes expected.
We're sad, but
Life was long,
Or
An illness made
Life a wretched thing.
The expected train arrives
Bearing the grief we
Were already grieving.

Other times, grief is a
Monster of steel that
Jumps the tracks
Right into your
Livingroom
And
You are lucky
If you avoided
All the flying
Debris.
Lucky to have
Survived yourself
Even if
Your life is
Forever changed.

Gentle, on time, expected
Or
A cataclysm.
Grief arrives, and
Arrives
For us all.

1Apr/210

Bumpy April Start

We'd like to go a month without something terrible happening, but April will not be the month.

Today I spent a bunch of time sitting in the parking lot of the emergency vet waiting to hear what was wrong with Dora. She didn't want to eat and was very lethargic, this after throwing up yesterday. We still don't know, she had a low fever, mild dehydration, and nausea. She doesn't seem to have pain in the abdomen nor did the vet feel anything.

We're going to follow-up with our regular vet, which won't be as expensive as the emergency vet. She also was released to me more quickly quickly.

They have her subcutaneous fluid and a shot of the great antinausea medication that was so helpful to Obie. She was interested in eating the bland diet the vet prescribed for a few days (boiled chicken breast and rice mashed together).

I'd had a plan to start doing these journal entries during the day; a daily habit goal. It didn't even occur to me to do it while sitting in the parking lot, despite that being a perfect time.

This is a poem about trying to write poetry after a long break and a difficult day.

My words feel sticky.
Each syllable piling up.
Drawing from the depths.