Thursday, July 25, 2013

"Always Find the Sunshine"

Wednesday morning was the first time I woke up knowing my little lady would not be tapping at my feet while I sipped my morning coffee. For a girl perpetually preoccupied with the ever overwhelming "big picture," I never realized just how much this little part of our daily routine affected the start of my day. And with most of these small moments, we never truly understand their absence until they're no longer there.

Breakfast at TargetOn Tuesday afternoon, June 23rd, 2013, John and I said good-bye to our little lady, Audrey. For those of you who know us or have been following the blog for a while, you know our chubby Chihuahuas are a very important part of our family. A source of constant and genuine affection, love, and entertainment, I dreaded the day we wouldn't all be together. Audrey had been afflicted with a degenerative spinal condition for a long while now, though it took an unexpected turn a couple of weeks ago right before John and I left for our family vacation. We visited our primary vet and a specialist, both who gave us options and tried to stay hopeful. I filled the list of prescriptions and left Audrey in the care of my sister while John and I went with his family on our trip. I prayed. I just knew I would return to a bouncy, spunky old gal.

Unfortunately, I returned an exhausted and frail creature who could barely hold her head up without writhing in pain.

Two days of failed attempts of medicinal treatment and sleepless nights, John knew we had to make the decision. I called the vet Tuesday morning from my office and told her what was happening. She spoke slowly, quietly; it was time to end Audrey's pain. They had an appointment at 4:00 PM available that afternoon. My heart suddenly weighed so heavily it took everything I had to not collapse. Audrey's hours were marked. The scores of emails and paperwork flooding my office reminded me of all the work I needed to get done; but knowing I only had a few precious hours left with my best little friend of 10 years, I fled the office and literally ran the entire way home.

I scooped her up ever so carefully, and I'll never forget the look on her sweet face. She knew. We curled up on the couch with our other pup, Sean Luca, opening the windows to fill the apartment with the sunshine - something we haven't seen in weeks. For what was probably the 100th time, we watched Breakfast at Tiffany's together. Seeing the graceful and beautiful woman on screen that served as Audrey's namesake, it reminded me again how we all fit. A couple of no-name slobs that found out we did, indeed, belong to each other.

John came in the door late that afternoon; as much as I needed him, I knew his arrival meant it was time to go. Holding Audrey wrapped in her comfy bedding, we left for the vet. Instead of the cheery greetings of our normal visits, we were met with quiet wordless acknowledgements. The vet and her assistant came into our room and was very gentle and comforting. John and I got to be with her the whole time, gently stroking behind the crook of her ear - her favorite. She looked safe, peaceful, and comfortable. We didn't take our eyes off one another until the doctor administered the final phase. I leaned into her little face; she looked at me, gave me a sweet little kiss on the nose, and slowly rested her head. The overwhelming sensation of relief and devastation was beyond any scope of emotion I had ever experienced.

The morning after was barely tolerable. Sick with anxiety and almost convincing myself it was just a bad dream, I looked around and saw her empty bed. Life was going to be different.

Audrey's Easter Musical Stylings
:: Audrey loved naps - I don't mean snoozin', I mean curl-up-on-the-couch-with-an-old-blanket-and-day-dream kind of naps. She loved getting dressed up in the ridiculous outfits my mom and I would bring for her. It meant she was going somewhere special or meeting new people. She made friends quickly and knew exactly how to play newcomers to where she never had to beg for treats - you couldn't not give her some. Her favorite party trick was that she loved to sing - loudly. Not howl, not bark: Sing. Audrey had princess standards; plain pillows or scratchy towels were an absolute no-no. Only the fluffiest, softest, most fabulous bedding would do. Ironically, however, piles of fresh-from-the-dryer laundry were the ultimate snooze grounds. She always felt the need to clean things. She regularly made sure Sean Luca's face was free of the dirt and grime that always seems to be attracted to pups' faces. If you were a male with bushy facial fair - Lord help ya. She could pick beards and mustaches clean. Audrey also had a thing for little people; she loved toddlers and babies to the point where she'd literally squeal in delight when she saw them coming down the street. She was very gentle as little tykes would grab her and try to pick her up, and she lapped up every moment. I used to think it was because of their size - but she had a need to nurture and loved the purity of the mutual joy and affection. I was really looking forward to having her as head nursemaid the day that John and I brought home our first little rugrat.

But most of all, Audrey loved the sunshine. She worshiped the light that poured into our apartment mid-morning, always following it until even the tiniest bit was left shining on her face. In any place, she could find it.

In the days since, I've tried to find the sunshine. The bright sides. The silver linings. This summer has been a tough one; a really tough one. The endless rain and storms and unwavering heat has paralleled my journey into trying to become the person I so desperately want to become. Audrey's been there through all my major life changes - college, AmeriCorps, grad school, marriage, and post-grad life in the working world. I had a momentary, debilitating thought that her passing meant there were no more big changes. But my belief that the universe has a way of restoring balance and that the dear Lord works in mysterious ways, I wondered if she moved on to make room for something else. In any way, I know she's looking down from her pink chenille bed padded by warm, clean socks, making sure everything turns out okay.

So until we meet again, silly girl, I'm happy to know you're surrounded by eternal sunshine.


*It really meant a lot to have had the amazing professionals by our side during the difficult procedure. If you feel so inclined, I urge you all to donate to your local vet or shelter - whether monetarily, with supplies, or with your time. To go through it once was hard enough, but these special people have to help families through these tough moments all the time. But they also get to see the happy moments, and that's worth supporting even more.

Breakfast at Target
Audrey & Sean Luca


  1. So sorry about sweet Audrey. I went through this last summer and I can't think of anything more heart wrenching...

  2. This was a beautiful memorial to Audrey. I'm so sorry for your loss and I'm sending you love and strength. xox

  3. I came across your blog today and this happened to be the first post I read. Your little Audrey looks so much like my Foxy. I hope you've found peace in your life since Audrey left.


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