I thought this was the year I would return to successfully complete NaNoWriMo. Then, November 1, Santino died. Only three months after Natasha, and with next to no warning. We’d been walking with him right up until the day he died. Monday night, he’d unexpectedly sat down in the middle of the road; then he didn’t want to eat much for a couple days. Given how hard he’d grieved for Natasha, and that KouKi had had a bit of a stomach bug two weeks previously, we gave him a day before we made arrangements to take him to our regular vet to catch his last appointment on Wednesday night. The vet took me into the back room to show me the ultrasound that confirmed Santino’s liver was riddled with hemangiosarcoma. In order to make sure he didn’t die unattended, we had to make the decision later that same night to take him to the emergency vet to be put down to avoid further suffering. Instead of coming home with a treatment plan, he came home to say his goodbyes to his siblings with the same stoic dignity with which he’d lived his life.
Devastation hardly begins to describe the emotional impact of this double loss.
Breathing exercises only go so far in calming raging emotional storms.
I took two days off work and decided I was going to do what I could toward my writing goals. Despite knowing that making a living from writing is a vanishingly slim possibility. Meanwhile, Wolfgang and KouKi were back to the depths of grieving, too. So we made the challenging decision to accept another puppy into our lives. Then, word got out about mods on the NaNoWriMo boards grooming underage writers, who had started their own evidence collection in the face of staff inaction and gaslighting. Two days after I discovered that unsavoriness, we drove back to Tennessee and picked up 7-week-old Angelo.
November was a whirlwind, and we’re only just starting to settle into the rhythms of returning to a young dog dominated household.
I also don’t know that I will ever embrace NaNoWriMo with the same zeal as I’d had previously – despite the board finally having taken at least some kind of action.
As traumatic as this year has been, having a baby in our lives again for the first time in nine years has been a balm to our souls. Oddly, none of the emotions mapped in this study about the physical impact of the various feelings of love quite catches the overall warm and fuzzy melting that happens when a very young pup prances at you with his ears back and his whole body wagging in the embodiment of exuberant love. The addition also means we’re adding to our fur collection, and eventually plan to find a chiengora weaver to memorialize all our pups in a fur blanket. Interesting research out of the Harvard Business Review underlines the need for markers of major life changes. It’s hard to imagine something more appropriate than an ersatz cuddle reminder of canine loves past. And a gentle reminder to embrace each moment, because time is unbelievably precious.
I’d hoped I’d have finished the first draft of book three of my Planet Seekers series by the end of 2023. That seems like an unlikely goal now, but I am catching some writing time tonight in one of Angelo’s nap crashes, so who knows how the future will unfold. In this season of gratitude, I intend to embrace as much wonder as I can as my self-prescribed health anodyne for a difficult year. May you find it for yourself as well.