Thursday, August 29, 2013

Nine Plus Nine

Nearly nine years ago, an
animal-loving nine year old 
little girl was counting the days
until her longed-for wish would
finally come true.

And it did.

In early October 2004,
the puppy she dubbed
Gracie Marie flew home
with our family from
Ohio to Minnesota.

And just like Elizabeth's,
the rest of our hearts
grew, as the Grinch's, 
three sizes that day.

We were smitten.

In a busy household of
four, Gracie quickly learned
that, although the days
weren't always predictable, one
thing was.  From the beginning,
she always, always, slept
with Elizabeth.

Puppies grow quickly and
soon become adult dogs, 
romping alongside their kids 
and their families.

Then one day, their kids
are all grown, too.

I held up beautifully when
we dropped Elizabeth at college
last week, my friends.  I smiled
and stayed positive through 
countless shopping trips. 
I smiled and encouraged
her through dorm move-in
and parent orientation.

And, although my eyes glimmered
and stung with tears, I still smiled 
when I gave her one last squeeze 
before leaving her dorm room
to head for the airport.

You'd have been proud.

But when I got home, and 
learned from our son that Gracie
had slept in Elizabeth's empty
room for two nights in a row,
the tears started coming.

And when I went into my girl's
room one afternoon to put away
some laundry and discovered
Gracie, nestled among the pillows
on the bed, they came even harder.

It doesn't seem fair that Gracie
isn't able to understand why
her little world has changed. 
Nine years old, just as Elizabeth
was when she waited expectantly
for the day we brought her puppy 
home, Gracie's muzzle is now white
where it used to be brown.

Life's button is on 
when you are a dog.

Right now Gracie is taking turns
between our son's room and
our room at night.  As she settled in
the crook of my arm last night and
sighed a small doggy sigh, I once
again felt an unbidden tear drift 
slowly down my cheek.

But I'll be alright.


When I'd thought ahead to our new
normal just a few months ago, it was
me, my husband and our son that
I'd pictured.

I hadn't considered Gracie and the
fact that there'd be no explaining
why the girl she dearly loves has
suddenly disappeared.

I'm trying to make it up to her, with
extra cuddles, more walks and
her favorite treats.

But I'm a distant second to
her Elizabeth, and I know it.

Their reunion at Christmas is
going to be crazy sweet.

How I'll always picture them, in my heart.

Until then, I'm going to smile,
I'm going to stay positive,
and I'm going to encourage.....



PS:  Thank you for all the uplifting
comments, emails, thoughts and prayers
over the last year as I've anticipated this
separation from our daughter.  Your 
support has meant more than you'll ever
know and I'm so very grateful.


Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

I can't even see the screen because my eyes are glazed over in tears. Dang life if beautiful, but filled with so much pain.

That a dog can feel the emptiness is telling. EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US, at least mammals, can demonstrate a sense of loss. It is too tender to bear, but far too important to overlook. This is what poetry is made of, what stories are constructed from. Dearest little Gracie has been a tender part of your lives in so many ways. ANimals communicate in another way that human words and gestures can benefit from. I am blessed to learn that you have sent off your brilliant daughter to become the light she has been called to be, and that little Gracie is somehow a piece of that.

Blessings to you all my dear Suzanne. Anita

Laura said...

Aww - what a touching post. I cried real tears reading this. There's nothing as special as a bond between a dog and it's owner. We had a Jack Russell. Sam, when I was two. He was 19 when he passed. He saw me threw my parents divorce and more. I still dream of him today. Roll on Christmas, for all of you in your family! Hugs. Lx

Dianna said...

That first step of them leaving the's hard! My heart remembers vividly the feelings associated with our first born (our daughter) as we took her to college. I'm right there with you on this one, Suzanne.

And dear Gracie...she'll adjust, like the rest of the family. But it does seem unfair to her that she can only understand that her girl is missing. Kudos to you for the extra cuddles, treats and walks to help her. Gracie and you are growing together.

Your daughter is beautiful and I pray she has a wonderful first year at college!

Lisa @ Shine Your Light said...

Suzanne. Sending lots of love to you and to your poor Gracie!!!!!!

Sheila said...

I am sending so much love and good thoughts to you, oh i really am crying.. Beautiful pictures and i can clearly see you made memories of all those wonderful days.

Farmgirl Paints said...

Geesh friend I'm a blubbering mess over here. I know if Fergie is still here she'll do the same thing. That will do me in:-\ Loving you miles away and lifting up that sweet girl of yours. Her future is so bright!!

JD said...

Give Gracie something that smells of your daughter, it'll help.jd

Hartwood Roses said...

Suzanne, sweetheart, remember that Gracie lives in the here and now. It's weird for her to be without Elizabeth, and it's up to you to make her new normal the best it can be with new routines. It sounds like you are off to a great start.

Friends of ours have a great saying ... Be More Dog. Be happy in the moment, forget the past, and let the future come. Remember that this step in your lives is an essential one, as Elizabeth learns to be on her own and all of you make a 'new normal'

Hugs to you as you figure out what YOUR new normal will be.

Low Tide High Style said...

I should have known better than to read this post! ;-) Give Gracie a big hug for us! We had a poodle mix growing up that would go crazy when my parents pulled into my sister's college, she knew exactly where she was and who she was going to see!

Big hugs to you too as you find your new normal!

xo Kat

Debby said...

tears here as well. For Gracie missing her best friend. Dogs are just so loving, wish they could really understand. Poor baby. Sounds like she is doing better.
I was going to say to take her to visit. But, it sounds like your daughter isn't going to college close since she won't be home til Christmas.
The other tears are for you. I remember so well those college drop off days. Heart breaking. Sounds like you have the right attitude. It does get better. ((((HUGS))00

ColorFormTexture said...

Oh, my...tears are sliding down my cheeks while reading your post. Life is soooo full of the yin and yang. We can't fully appreciate the pleasure if we don't live through the pain. So what you are feeling is to be embraced, felt down to its tippy toes and then sweetly released. Many thoughts and prayers coming your way!

Leslie said...

It's hard.. I know. I'm a hope, skip, and jump ahead of you and I will tell you that a lot of self talk and encouragement is essential. Use this time to reflect .. and do things for yourself. A little distraction is a good thing too:) I had the exact same thing happen with regards to our puppy Layla.. so sad when my daughter moved out. Now I'm in the next phase. Both kids graduated from college and an a father in hospice. I keep telling myself that if everyone else can go through it and come out okay..I can too. We can do it!

Leslie said...

hop! not hope :)

Linda @ Itsy Bits And Pieces said...

OH Suzanne, I am sharing your tears as I read this...such a beautiful post! I fell in love with sweet Gracie the minute I met her...and their reunion WILL be fun! I know how it feels in a home when a child moves out...and it is HARD. But it will get better, I promise. You are such a good mom and I'm sorry you are sad... a big xo my friend...

kerrie of sea cottage said...

Tears fall and cleanse our heart. Poor little Gracie. But it is as if you have a piece of your daughter with you.

Charm Bracelet Diva {at Home} said...

Wow! She's off! Congrats and sympathy, both at the same time. You must be so proud of her, she's beautiful just like her mom:) Your pup will do ok, and I'm sure you'll be spoiling her extra special for a while to come. You're all lucky to have each other. Hang in there.

Nantucket Daffodil said...

Oh Suzanne! I can't imagine how hard this must be! My daughter is 9 and so this is touching me....time flees so fast! It's amazing the bonds formed with a pet. If it was that hard for your pooch, I have a feeling your beautiful daughter has a shed a tear or two as she lays in bed without her friend. You are right, Christmas will be a PARTY!

NanaDiana said...

Oh- I am full of tears and my throat has a huge lump in it. You can mentally deal with it with a person's reasoning ability, an animal...all they know is the loss. So sad. Hang in there- xo Diana

June said...

Such a beautiful and touching post dear Suzanne. Gracie is going to miss her girl and Elizabeth will miss her's. But probably not nearly as much as you will miss 'your' girl. These are such precious photos of the two together. I loved the one of Elizabeth in you pretty dorm room. I would say she looked right at home...but I don't want to make you cry again.
sending warm hugs to you and Gracie...

Elizabeth@ Pine Cones and Acorns said...


I too am sitting here crying as I type this...I feel so very sad for your little Gracie. But I am happy to hear that she is being comforted by you as you are being comforted by her.

Your beautiful girl is off on her adventure and what a wonderful one it will be, how wonderful that she has a supportive, loving mom to help her on her way with encouraging words, prayers and love.

My thoughts and prayers are with you and little Gracie, love is a soothing balm on a sad day.

xo Elizabeth

Hindsfeet said...

I think we're all crying with you here, Suzanne....sharing your sorrow as the sorrow of all of our own losses is triggered....I know this does't help much, but, well, maybe it *does* help to know you're not crying alone....sometimes sorrow shared makes it a bit easier to bear....

....on that note, *this* Elizabeth is going to give my little doggy a treat (Maddie, a shih'tzu, I've had her for 10 years and she sleeps up on my pillow with me at night) as we get ready to tuck in tonight.....

....much love, Suzanne,
big hug for you and bedtime prayers for all to find their footing soon in a beautiful blessed 'new normal'......

much love, my dear,

Unknown said...

I'm crying away with you, understanding how hard it must've been for my Mum to see me move to the other side of the world. Your daughter is so lucky to have grown up with so much love. XO

Sue said...

I cried the "ugly" cry when I got in the car when my girls left for school. I still remember -it would break my heart too, every time I saw that puppy in her room. But it gets better.


Boo hoo.....I was scared to read this at first not understand ing where it was going.....not to say that you sweet daughter leaving isn't sad enough.......but I thought something had happened to Gracie. Boy that Christmas reunion is going to be so sweet!!

Katherine said...

So beautiful. I have tears in my eyes now. We now have little puppy and I know he'll find it hard when the boys go back to school next week, let alone when one day they too will leave for pastures new. Thnking of you x

Michelle said...

Tears. Tears. Tears! My heart is aching for your little Gracie... and you. Hopefully time will dull the pain as you all settle into your new normal. My heart goes out to you and your beautiful precious family. So special. Sending hugs and love your way. Michelle xo

Tiffini said...

oh sweet friend...tears are running down my face at your words. i have been there--i am giving you a hug and love and know .. know that we are all here for you.
love you so much...xo

Sandy at You May Be Wandering said... keyboard is all wet because I sobbed through this whole post. Many hugs to you (knowing how hard it is to send a child off to college) and to your sweet pup.

Have a great weekend! xoxo

YONKS said...

This is exactly the reason why I read blogs. The little insight into your world, with all it's ups and downs mirrors so many others. You have told us your beautifully written story. Thank you!

Deborah said...

It's as if I can feel your heart beat my dear Suzanne.
So beautiful...your mother's heart.
That's so wonderful that she is all settled in and that she has such an amazing love in you.
Your daughter and her sweet little friend are adorable together. No wonder he misses her so.
You will be fine and upheld by Him Who also has a mother's heart.
Love & hugs from my heart to yours.

All my heart,
Deborah xoxoxoxoxoxo

Little Cottage on the Pond said...

Okay, I am up at 3 am with serious jet lag and this post just made me cry the ugly cry! Written so beautifully.

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Ah....this is a killer diller post that goes straight to the heart then back up out the eyes as tears. What a precious experience GOD has given us, to breathe, to see, to hear and feel what it's like to be human.

My dear, thank you for coming to visit me. I feel blessed to have you, a REAL WRITER come to read my few but heartfelt words. My French has always been better than my English, and with that, I am going in to teach this year with a fresh excitement to inspire the older group of kids. It won't be easy; you have to gain some credibility with them and I pray God that happens.

Best wishes to you and your kids as they travel on their journeys toward adulthood.....and the cycle of life continues for all of us. Big hugs, Anita

Kathysue said...

TEARS!! many tears!! So beautifully written and the images are so touching. It is true, we don't think about how our little fur babies can not process the events in a human's life. Makes me sad for her, but life is moving forward in its bitter sweet moments. I never say goodbye, I always say, See you next time!


I just tonight made it to this post, but I have been thinking about you all summer, knowing this was coming up soon.

We are so very proud of you. This is a lovely stage once you get used to it. For me ... any day my kids are home feels like Christmas morning and that is very sweet.


michele said...

beeeeeeeaaaaaaauuuuuutiful, suzanne. i'm choked up because i feel it too. what a love we share with these pups. you have a wonderful attitude, and we will make it by continuing to move forward with hope. the best is not behind us! how can that be when God is still for us and has our back?!? hang tough. sing out. (enough of me talking to myself).



Just a little something from Judy said...

It is early on Friday morning. I am sitting here with my cup of coffee, and decided to visit your blog. Now, I am sitting here crying. I can't tell you how closely I can relate to you through this heartwarming story. I experienced those tears too, years ago when we dropped our daughter off at a far-away school, and you know what, those tears came back as I read this post.

Beautiful pictures of a lovely your lady and her Gracie. Oh, the many unexpected roles of being a mother:)

Art and Sand said...

I cried through this post from memory and understanding. We did not have a dog when either of our children went to college, but I can imagine what Gracie is going through.

This was particularly poignant as my adult daughter is going through a tough patch right now and is not welcoming my platitudes and "momisms". I cried for us as well as for you.

patty said...

i'm bawling. just so you know. :)

you and i should not be allowed to visit each other here for a while... the heartache, the understanding, the knowing, it's all too close.

my moments come when we don't pull the 5th chair to the dinner table. when we ask for a "table for four, please". when we sit comfortable in our car made for four, when it used to be tight. and crowded. and together.

my pup refuses to come inside. it's like she's waiting for him to throw her the ball.

i love her room...i'd like it for my own, thank you! :)

hugs to you, and to gracie, too. sweet pooch.

Acanthus and Acorn said...

You've had quite a bit to contend with, I am so sorry to hear of your friends cancer.

It it amazing how much our dogs are affected by the absence of a family member, but the reunions are fantastic- get the video ready to roll cause Gracie will go crazy!

Catherine said...

OMG, so touching and I'm crying as I write this to you. You are such a wonderful writer and capture the emotion of what you and sweet Gracie experienced. I know it's now been months since she's gone away to school, but I hope you and Gracie are doing okay with this change in your home.