our girl {still + life}


As I'm writing this Violet is curled up on her bed, barking her dang fool head off at every slightest noise. I offered her a padded spot under the desk at my feet (she likes it here too), but it's bitterly cold here today and the bed is warmer. The more things change, the more they stay the same.


When I was five, we had a beagle mix named Spot. Lest you guffaw too loudly at the name of said beagle mix, go back and read the first part of that sentence. I was five years old, people. Cut me some slack. It was the first pet either my dad or I ever had. Sweet Spot. I have the barest of memories of her. Her life was cut short when we had her spayed; an allergic reaction to the anesthesia went horribly wrong. I have the most distinct memories of coming out of school, of kindergarten, that day, to find my dad standing there waiting by a tall tree in the playground. I was thrilled to see him there because he usually met me in his truck in the carpool line, and I ran up to him, unknowing. And then he told me the news: we'd lost little Spot.

I came, it seems, full circle on Thursday when Neel and I drove to school together to give Callum the news about our sweet Violet. I didn't want to tell him alone. Our surgeon had called at ten, but you know what? When I woke up that morning, I knew. All the pieces of her symptoms fell into place, and I knew that the troubles that had been plaguing her were not the result of a disk problem. She has two masses on her spine, and they have metastasized. "I hate to make this call," Dr. Watson, our surgeon said. And she clearly meant it. I held it together until the very end of the phone call, when I hung up crying. I had barely tapped out "Call me" on a text to Neel before I received one: "Any news?" It was from Callum.

What to say? What to say?

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I do not like to lie to my boy, but clearly this is not something you share in a text. So we put him off and told him we were running late. We met him in front of the car to say simply, "We did not get good news about our girl." It was not a good day. I've been weeping a lot.


Let me tell you a little bit about our girl. A couple years ago, we'd made Violet get down from the sofa, or had not let her get on, and immediately Neel let Lucy-the-Beagle hop up. Meanie! When that happened, we watched as Violet literally stomped to her bed, turned around and huffed out a sigh. In a falsetto voice, I said (for Violet), "I'm mad." And Violet's vioce was born. She's been talking ever since. Please don't get me wrong, we adore all three of our pups and they all have distinct and funny personalities, but with Violet, it's different. She has a special sparkle that draws everyone to her. She loves to sing and was on the cheer squad at her school. She loves math (every answer ends in 14), but is less skilled at reading comprehension and spelling. She has a pet buffalo that lives in our backyard named Flower, and she once treed a possum that she wanted to keep and name Petal. We've anthropomorphized the hell out of her, perhaps to our peril, but Violet as Violet has brought great joy to our lives. Anytime Callum is blue or we've had a bit of a struggle, he'll ask how her day was. Or if he's tired, she'll sing and wake him up. She's way funnier than I could ever be, and she cracks us up all the time.

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She loves us all, but there is no denying that she's a mama-dog. She follows me everywhere. When I shower, she waits for me, as you can see in several of these photos, on my discarded jammies. As I move from closet to bathroom getting dressed or putting on my make-up, she'll follow me, watching intently. If I go outside, she wants to go outside. If I sit down, she's at my feet or on my lap. She won't go to bed unless I walk her there. Half the time Thea, our corgi, wants to be alone and Lucy-the-Beagle is staring into space, but Vi is my girl. Since we got the news, I've had a dream about losing my favorite locket, and I did pop out one of the diamonds in my wedding band, rendering it unwearable. All lessons about loss, which I don't really think I need right now. Hashtag: thankyouverylittle.


We've had a few days to adjust and get used to the news. Our surgeon suggested trying her on steroids to see if we could buy some time, and we start those today. We don't know if the steroids will provide any relief to her; they could do nothing at all or, as our vet said, they could be very effective and she could be with us a nice long time. We have to at least try. The weekend was hard because we had to wean her off some meds before starting the steroids, and for awhile there it felt like we were doing nothing, hoping she'd simply make it those five days without falling too far. She has ups and downs, but she's still very clearly okay. Still, it has weighed so heavily on us these past days. Each time we come home, waiting to hear her bark. Each time we get up in the morning, wondering how she'll be. In the meantime, lots of lap time, lots of treats (Thank you, Seamane!), and lots of snuggles.

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I do worry about our other girls. Thea is Violet's biological mother, and although we joke that she washed her paws of Vi as soon as they both moved in, they share a crate and food dish and are very close. Vi and Lucy are playmates and buddies. As I was trying to get ahold of Neel and texting my dad through my tears after first getting the news, Lucy came and sat on my lap, leaning hard against me. They both clearly know that something is up. We're trying to spread all the love around as much as we can.

We've been down this road before, Neel and I. I never dreamed it would happen so soon with Miss Violet. I do however believe with every fiber of my being that this is part of the great gift that pet lovership gives us. We trust them to show us when we need to act for them, as they can not be the captains of their fates, and we do act. Doing so is very hard for us humans, but it is all about the love we share. We all love all our girls. So much.


I can't end this update without thanking you all again for holding us in the light. I'm going to ask you to continue to do so. You all know that these critters aren't really pets. They're members of our family, so please hold our family in the light, including all our girls, as we care for our sweet Violet.