on getting a puppy and choosing the wild things.
We recently brought home a little puppy for our girl Florence. He’s a golden Chorkie, (chihuahua crossed with a Yorkshire terrier). He’ll be a small, lap dog, perfect for couch snuggles with Florence, and long days at home with me. We named him Rudy. “He’s a dreamer who just won’t quit.”
For Christmas, my husband Jay asked our landlord for approval. Originally we weren’t allowed to have pets in our rental home. The landlord said yes, and so, Jay presented me with a “good for one puppy” voucher and flower scented poop bags.
I was thrilled at first, and then realized I didn’t feel strong enough to take it on. It scared me. I started thinking the very worst.
My heart revealed: I was afraid.
I was afraid of Florence dying and the dog remaining, a constant reminder of what was lost. I was afraid of hospital stays and a puppy that’s not housebroken. I was afraid of stress and fatigue and death.
I decided it would be easier to choose fear and just keep things simple. Our circumstances are hard, I reminded myself, and this might make them harder.
Jay, after hearing me cry and share my heart, agreed that he could feel these things too, but he wasn’t agreeing with them.
He said, “we have to choose life and joy this year, and right now, a puppy will bring us life and joy.”
It took some time for us to decide if this would be a safe decision.
Getting a puppy is usually never a safe decision, which is why we said yes.
Jay looked at me and said, “I’m proud of you for pushing through. We made the right decision.”
Life, with arms wide open, that’s what we want.
We brought Rudy home and it was wonderful. I cried great big tears when Florence met him for the first time. She made her little “woof woofs” and smiled and giggled and pushed out her new word “Dokk, dokk!”
Later in the evening, a few unrelated issues came to my attention, and before I knew it, the combination of new things, fear and emotions proved toxic to my system. I was suddenly fragile and overloaded. That old wet blanket of panic heaved it’s musty arms around me, and I ended up in bed for the rest of the night.
Shoot. We made the wrong decision. I can’t do this. I can’t do this. I can’t…
New things make me nervous. My comfort zones with Florence are at home, in good health, calmness, routine.
It hit me hard. I want to be brave and wild this year, I want to be full, and if that means a little chaos, then so be it. I can do this.
Morning came and I was still pushing through the panic. At this point it had nothing to do with the puppy, but it was part of the trigger. However, I had called it by name, recognized it and realized my strength was thinning fast. I used to live on watered down strength for months after Florence’s diagnosis. I would crack at the slightest thing, unable to eat, bent over the toilet. Panic. Have you ever experienced it? It makes you feel weak and broken, like something is terribly wrong with you.
I like to think of myself as a strong woman, but panic tells me otherwise.
Squashing it means taking time: to refill, time for prayer and soft songs sung again and again until the rhythm of His grace lulls me into a place of peace.
Rest, pick up the pieces, the scattered ones that make me feel broken beyond repair, take a deep breath. I hate admitting that our journey has taken me down some dark and lonely paths. I hate seeing the damaged parts of myself rise up. But perhaps, they were here all along, and now I’m finally learning to shove them aside.
Parenting a child that has significant needs is not easy, but it doesn’t have to ruin you. Our circumstances, whatever they may be, should not define us.
This year, we choose life, however wild, unrelenting, chaotic and surprising it may be. As Rudy sits on my lap, curled up and fast asleep, I know we made the right decision. The love, loyalty and tenderness an animal brings will make pee spots on the carpet a distant memory.
This year, we choose to believe that good things are coming. 2014 is a year of wild hope and bravery.
We are all brave enough to set our sights on the miraculous, to attain those dormant dreams, to push through the ugly things until we see the sprout of green coming up through the dirt.
Hope, it lives here too, brokenness and all.