Peaceful endings…

Stop and think about that first moment, almost always love at first sight, when we make that decision to open our life and home to a new pet.  We can’t stop cuddling and snuggling with the new addition and delight in watching them grow.  Training, teaching…it’s all part of the commitment we will continue to make in the years that follow.

It doesn’t end there.

Given the life span of most animals,  combined with illnesses or injuries, sooner or later we will face dealing with heartbreaking end of life decisions.  Part of that commitment, remember?  Sadly and all too often, those who once doted on their beloved pet suddenly do an about-face and seek to cold-heartedly dump their animal at some shelter, often withholding information on any medical issues.  The once-loved fur (or other) friend has come to be viewed as liability, something not worth the financial or emotional effort as their life nears its end.   Sometimes, these pets are the lucky ones, providing a particular shelter or rescue organization can offer such respite.  Although few and far between, groups and individual caregivers are available who offer palliative care for pets and their owners. 

All one has to do is a little research; make a call and reach out for help.

One, stellar, organization of note is the AHELP Project, based in Seattle, Washington.  Thanks to some family tree shaking I did months ago, I’ve been fortunate in connecting with AHELP’s President and Executive Director who… just happens to be my cousin!  I am so impressed by the supportive work done under the palliative care banner by this group; it should be a benchmark for similar facilities across this country.  Living here in the Northeast, such end-of-life care is mostly relegated to veterinary hospitals and individuals who offer some element of hospice for their animal patients and families.  Unfortunately, there are more “At Home Euthanasia Services” for pets to be found here on the East Coast than available palliation support.

Hopefully and in time, that will change.  Right now, it’s back to that commitment.  The cuddles, snuggles, showers of love and comfort that were lavished on your pet at the beginning all need to be in place for their peaceful ending.   This is what families do!






The best of times…

The draft had been sitting on my desk for a few weeks in preparation of an after-reunion blog post.  Shortly after I walked in the door late last evening, I opened the folder and read over all that I imagined this gathering would be in the months and days leading up to the event.  Notes were everywhere, scribbled on pads or left in my phone, both safe havens for thoughts that randomly fly into your head, thoughts so very much worth saving.

I wondered, should I rush to share a review or give it a few days?  Maybe more time was in order to properly reflect back over a night of celebration that ended all too quickly.  Deciding that this was the best plan, I shut down my computer around 4 a.m. and headed for bed.

My mind, unfortunately, kept working. 

How do you turn off something that, after months of preparation and anticipation, exploded into a wonderful frenzy of hugs, kisses and tears?  The energy of the evening’s festivities kept playing through my head but I fought the urge to sit down and put together a few paragraphs.  Haste wouldn’t do justice to my attempt at describing an event I once wasn’t even sure I would attend.

Morning came and I paced, notebook in hand, writing down bits and pieces as I walked around my home.  I stopped to check Facebook now and then as classmate-friends posted photos taken over the past two days and scrolled through some candid shots on my phone and camera.  In each picture, I could still hear the laughter and feel the warmth of the hugs as many of us met again after more than twenty-five years, some not since our graduation in 1964.  

It’s now after 6 on a Sunday evening and the words are in a holding pattern over my head, waiting to make their final landing. 

Back in 1989, our 25th reunion had most of us at a point in our lives where we were very full of ourselves.  Careers, growing families, much to boast about and those of us who attended that event did just that.  Faces were still familiar and the groups of classmates who had grown up together in the same neighborhoods and attended the same elementary schools gently partitioned themselves off from those who didn’t share that special bonding.   This interpretation is not a criticism of who we all were back then; we were a graduating class of 775 students who could not possibly have all known each other at any point in time.  Various conversations shared similar comments to this effect, over and over,  just twenty-four hours ago. 

We’ve grown.  Older, yes.  Wiser…most definitely!  Last evening we perused name tags, as I predicted we would, but this time around it was different.  With the exception of a scant few people, most looked at a tag, then the person wearing it and, well, it was almost magical with each burst of recognition!  Let’s face it, so much of that former physical familiarity has changed but as we all walked around the banquet room, in search of,  we took the time to embrace a smile we once knew, a voice we once spent time talking with or that person who made us feel special each time they passed us in the school hallways by just saying…hello.  Last night we boasted, of course, about our grandchildren, retirement and travels.  This time around, we also shared the sadness in our lives,  the loss of loved ones, divorces, illnesses and were no longer divided little groups.  The hugs and words exchanged were genuine and from each of our hearts.  Last night, we were on common ground.  We did, in fact, share the best of times.

As with so many things, our celebration ended much too soon but the memories will linger until my end of time on this planet.  Saying good-bye was difficult, at least for me, and I chose not to say those words, to anyone.  I’d much rather leave that door open and be ready to say hello…again.

Our memories of yesterday will last a lifetime
We’ll take the best forget the rest and some day we’ll find…these were the best of times




Days are winding-down, excitement is building.

It started out as a thought, became an idea and then evolved into a plan by a group of dedicated people who have given it a life of its own.  Suddenly, a date fixed in the future became real for each of us and the pre-gathering fun hasn’t stopped .

Along with anticipation, of course.

The phraseology that defines what’s coming has been “See You in September”, a song that has been playing through everyone’s head for months now.  But, with this event, we are all off to a fabulous start because many of us have connected/re-connected and will meet again soon, much like long-lost friends, not strangers from fifty years ago.  We will have so much to share, once we all get past the hugs, handshakes and inevitable tears that go along with any reunion. 

Fifty years ago, we graduated high school and left so much behind.  Especially the good-byes we never got to say because we were in such a hurry to move forward, even away.  In just about two weeks, we will make up for those lost words and so much more; our steps will be slower as we look to embrace every moment before the evening ends, covering us with a blanket of wonderful memories.  I’m bringing a lot of extra tissues.


Along with anticipation.  Of course.


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