Friday, February 1, 2013

Missing Bailey

Disclaimer: I'm feeling sappy today. Thinking about another blogger who has lost her four-footed family member has made me a little sentimental. If that's not your thing, feel free to skip this post and come back for more green living and home projects soon.

As we approach the one-year mark since moving into our dream house, Niels and I have talking about the things we love about our new house and what things we would have changed--using the same budget. The discussion got me looking through old notes and photos and I found this one.

This is the only photo we have of our sweet Bailey at our new house. This photo was taken almost exactly two years ago. Usually she stays home when we run our errands, but I think maybe she had a date at the puppy spa and we stopped to look at the lot. At any rate, I'm so glad I have this photo. It was only a few days after this that we found out she was dying from liver disease. 

It came on incredibly fast and within two weeks, she went from perfectly healthy to gone. I will never forget that as we were leaving the animal hospital to bring her home after learning that she would not recover, I got a text that a friend of mine who went into early labor and very nearly died from her complications. She and her son are thankfully well, but his birth and Bailey's death will always be entwined in my mind.

Bailey's impending death was also the reason we bought our Nikon D3100. We had a last weekend with Bailey in which we took over a thousand photos, including the much loved family photo at the top of this post. 

Another photo I just love is this one of Bailey giving "the paw." Bailey conveyed so much without words. When I first sustained my traumatic brain injury, we spent many hours sleeping and resting together. She clearly understood that something was different. She loved the extra time with me, I'm sure, and at that time she started to simply place her paw on my hand as a way of assuring me that everything would be all right. One of her last gestures was placing her paw on mine as we said goodbye.

If I could change anything about our new home, it would be that Bailey would have moved here with us.

Bailey was originally my dog, but she quickly became a daddy's girl after Niels and I married. She wasn't as sure about D, but they were just becoming friends when she left us.  

These next two photos are a great picture of their relationship at the end. Tender-hearted D saw Bailey shivering, so he brought her his coat. She wasn't sure what to think.  

But she accepted the gift of his coat. And his shoe.

As it turned out, just before we were to bring a new puppy home, we learned that D is severely allergic to dogs. We were purchasing the pup from a friend, who was happy enough to keep him. Knowing that Bailey was our only four-footed family member makes her loss even harder for me. She is prominently featured on our great room gallery, and half his life later, D still points to the pictures and says, "That's Bailey dog. She lives with Jesus now." Such a great example of why I love being surrounded by photos of our favorite people and moments.

If you've made it this far, you might appreciate my last words to Bailey.

Early Morning Thoughts on the First Day After

Walking back to our car was first worst thing.
No tugging on your leash
No jumping to the seat
My lap was empty with only your collar.
The rain mimicked our tears.
Pulling into the driveway,
I couldn’t help but look through the window
To see that you weren’t perched on the couch
I swore we heard your "woof woof woof"
And the jingle of your collar when we stepped inside
You’re nowhere
And everywhere.
Your leash hangs silently on its hook
Your dish disheveled on the floor
Your food, untouched.
The indentation of your withered body
Still caves your favorite spot on the sofa
Your favorite toy lays lonely on the floor
Your last treat remains, half enjoyed.
It was time, sweet girl.
But not enough time.
At nighttime, you were part of our routine
One last trip outside
One last sip of water
Last night’s lasts were the last lasts.
You didn’t bound up the steps
Brushing my leg in your rush to our room.
How can our big bed suddenly feel so small?
How can our thick comforter lack any warmth?
You didn’t lick my husband’s ears.
You didn’t cuddle into my side.
How can I possibly sleep?
I woke up early and often
And you weren’t there to coax me back to slumber.
My husband slumbers
Because you weren’t there to wake him with a nuzzle
And request to go outside.
I sit here
still feeling the tremor of your last days
And thanking God for all of our good days.
I peek in on our young son
And wonder how we’ll make him understand
That our vet couldn’t “fix it.”
Couldn’t heal you.
How will I answer when he looks for you?
No more shared meals with a toddler.
I’ll have to start sweeping the floor.
You were my helpful shadow,
And the reflection of my life doesn’t look right now.
Who will tell me when the mail is here?
Or the garbage is being picked up?
That company has come?
Or that Daddy is home?
I have no wild barking to calm.
No tummy to rub.
No four-footed observer in my kitchen.
An empty space under
—and empty chair at—our dinner table.
Our laps will remain empty
Our hands won’t know what to do.
No more 8 o’clock bursts of energy.
White flashes around the room.
No more smiles of pure joy.
No more paws upon our hands.
No more thump-thump as you jump to the floor.
In the coming days,
We’ll remember what we forgot.
All the sounds you made as the symphony of our home.
Your stage is silent.
How can one who cannot speak say so much?
You’ve been so much more than a dog.
You were my heart on training wheels.
And you taught me how to love.
You’ve been a mile marker in my life.
You’ve been with me from single to married to mommy.
You’re part of all my important moments.
I don’t know why I thought if I lost you now,
It would be easier somehow.
What is ever easy about a final goodbye?
I miss you, sweet girl.
Thank you for being part of my life.
Thank you for a good life.
Thank you.

In memory of Bailey Grace with a Silly Face
April 14, 2001 – March 5, 2011

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  1. This is a beautiful post. Your Bailey obviously had a wonderful impact on your life. We recently lost one of our dogs and I wrote about it on my blog too. It helped to share our loss with family and friends who loved her too.

  2. What beautiful words to your sweet Bailey! You wrote exactly how I feel about my sweet Lab Roxy, thankfully she's still with us. I have been reading your blog entries for a while now. This one really touched me. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Such a wonderful post. Our two Baileys are up in heaven running around together :)

    1. I'm so glad you saw this, Kristin! I love the thought of our pups playing together.

  4. There's just nothing like a dog for love, is there?


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