About Cheerio

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In general I am a cheery and energetic person. But I am enshrouded in a cloak of iron. That cloak is the weight of greiving my son, whom I've lost to adoption.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

dropping the attempt to 'catch up'

There are several things I’ve wanted to blog about over the course of the past 7 months.

I was trying to keep my blog posts mostly in a chronological order. However, that became a very difficult thing to do.

I fell behind on posting everything about the ARD (Adoptee Rights Demonstration). While at the ARD in July, I remember being puzzled as to why I was just so completely exhausted, and wondered where did the energy go? Normally when I’m away and have no pressure, I’m up before the sun. I'm packed full of energy that can’t be exhausted in one short day. That didn’t happen at the ARD, and it baffled me!

When I got home, I found that then stress and pressure from my job did not subside at all while I was away. It drained any bit of energy I would’ve had left. My intentions of posting after the ARD just didn't happen like I wanted.

Once I found out I was pregnant, I could not post about any of those experiences at the time, because I was hiding the ‘news’ from my employer for as long as I could. They had just laid off 30 people in my department, and I was afraid that telling them I’d need time off in the spring of 2010 would push me to the top of the list of people they’d cut next. I never did get a chance to tell them the "good news."

When September came and I lost the baby I felt like I couldn’t post ‘current’ things because I didn’t post ‘earlier’ things yet. Then came the period of time that I just couldn't write. There were no words to write.

So beginning today, I’m going to let go of chronological order for now. It’ll be up to you, the reader, to notice dates and put those pieces where they rightfully belong. I’m not going to try to ‘catch up’. I’m going to just write what I’m feeling and experiencing now, with a lot of reflection in some posts.

Today, as the wind blew and the temperature stayed below freezing, I walked outside to get the mail. Although the sun was shining, it was not warm in the least. But I could not resist the urge to walk through the gardens, it was calling to me and drew me in with no resistance. And I noticed signs of life.

There are little tufts of crocus sticking out of the ground! One area even has a few daffodil tips poking out.

That's very significant to me. Just like the spring bulbs, I too was emotionally cold and asleep - for a long time. But I've begun to thaw, and now is the time for me to wake back up, sharpen my pencils, and write!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

my little hike on the mountain

today is Saturday, 1/16/2010 it was above freezing for a few days here the ground thawed enough that we could burry our Monster Paws it, of course was sad...I was so thinking that I don't want to do this again anytime soon Early evening I took a short hike up the mountain. I needed to swap out the rechargable batteries with newly charged ones, and swap the memory cards in our field camera. on 1/3, I picked a new location for the camera, up where we planted 30 poplar trees two summers ago. it's a fairly good workout getting there, since the mountain has a nice grade.
I've been practicing how to sneak up on the deer, since I know they'er often in that area. As I was slowly walking along, I heard someting on the slope above me. I figured it could've just been a bird, until a twig snapped. Birds don't usually snap twigs. I'm sure it was deer, but there was a lot of brush and I couldn't see it. After a few moments of supsense and disappointment, I continued up the path. Then I saw a few deer playing ahead of me. They were in the area of the young poplars. There were at least two deer that I saw, maybe a third. I stood there for awhile watching from behind a medium sized tree. When they seemed to be gone, I continue my hike. I was slowly making my way up to the camera, and I heard a sound. I heard it again. I thought it was a bird calling. But after hearing it a few more times, it sounded more like a goat or sheep bleating. I decided to move close to some brush instead of being out in the open. Sure enough a deer comes to the edge of the clearing, bleating. I've heard deer snort lots of times. That's what they do to warn each other of danger, but I've never heard them call like this. I wondered if i t was a young one that got separated from the herd. It couldn't have been too young, because it ididn't have spots, might have been a two-year old. So, there I was, crouching behind this brush, peering through the overgrown vines watching this deer. It didn't see me and was headed straight towards me. It walked past the field camera, and I hoped there was enough juice in the batteries to get a pic. At one point the deer was suspicious. I could see it looking my way. I think deer are color blind, so it couldnt see my orange hoodie or my blue jeans. But I'm sure that it noticed here was an unusually dark gray spot in the brush where I was. Not sure how strong my scent was. I tried to keep my mouth closed, because I was chewing mint gum. I'm sure a mint smell would not be normal to them at this time of year. But it didn't frighten the deer away, and it walked closer and closer. It was actually on the other side of the brush where I was. I was hunched over and trying to not move a muscle. I was watching toward the spot where the brush ended. When the deer got to that spot, it looked right at me. There was no brush between us and I was almostl completely exposed when the deer saw me. It was only 10 feet away. I could see it's big dark eyes look right into mine. If I had been a hunter, I'd have had a perfect shot. The deer was completely startled. It hunkered down and bolted several yards away, then stopped. Once it stopped, it turned around and kept watching me. But from it's new view point, I was mostly hidden again by the brush and overgrowth on that side of me. The growth was sparse enough that I could still easily see the deer. It watched me, and even walked back my direction a bit. It paced around, watching, stomping the ground with it's front hoovest. It wasn't alarmed, because it did not raise it's tail at all. Finally it just continued it's way down the mountain. I waited until it was completely out of site. I'm told deer are very much creatures of habit. And if there are frightened, they won't visit that area again for a long time. Since this one was just surprised, I didn't want to frighten it too. After it was out of sight, I waited quietly a few more minutes, then headed toward my camera. When I walked up to it, no lights came on. Just as I figured, the batteries were dead - no recent pictures. I swapped the cards and batteries and readjusted the camera's aim.
I lingered there for a little while, leaning on the small tree. I thought I heard something moving about in the woods beyond me, but that brush was much taller brush, and I couldn't see a thing. Finally the birds got to moving about and chirping, and I decided it was time to go. I was slowly making my way down a slope when I heard a deer snorting -- several times. I could not see anything, but I knew it could either see or smell me. I sank to the ground behind some brush and waited. Then I slowly stood up and tried to peer over the brush, and the deer started snorting again. I tried to sneak back up the slope hoping to see something, but no such luck.
It was getting dark quickly, and I have no night vision, so I decided I'd better call it an adventure and get home. On my walk the rest of the way down the paths, I could hear a hoot owl. I don't remember ever hearing a hoot owl here before. So that was my little journey tonight. I can't wait to see what kind of pictures I got.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A dream, with fur, fear, and tears

I am a cat nap kind of person. In the summer I’ll often go out to my car on my lunch break and take a cat nap. I'll usually wake up in about 20 minutes without setting an alarm. Those 20 minutes will give me an extra boost for several hours. Today I fell asleep and woke up clearly remembering the details of a dream. In my dream I was outside with my friend, Linda. We became very good friends when I was in high school. Back then I was a big horse lover. I was always reading horse books, wrote short stories about horses, and often paged through my horse encyclopedia learning everything about them, about the breeds, their anatomy, and best practices on how to care for them. I greatly enjoyed the Horse Illustrated magazine. I love the dish shaped face of the Arabian, and their slender features. I appreciated the stamina and strength of the Morgan, and the quickness of the Quarter Horse. In my dream we were outside near the horses. We were at the inside angel of a corner. The electric fence wire was in front and beside us. Linda was reaching over the fence petting one horse. There was a second horse at the other fence, it was a dark color. Since it was cool out I had my hood up. This eliminated my peripheral vision and reduced my hearing. Whenever I would turn my back on this horse to face Linda, I was filled with a fear of it. I was constantly turning my head to look back at it, afraid that it was going to charge or attack me. Each time I turned toward my friend Linda, a great wariness would boil up in me. I kept thinking I heard footsteps coming toward me. But each time I would turn and look, the other horse was behind the fence where it should be. Suddenly in my dream Pokey was there. Pokey was a pony I acquired when I was in 7th or 8th grade. We were a poor family growing up. My Mom labored hard as a single mom in a blue collar job. This was back when men resented women working a “man’s job.” When she worked in the steel mill, the men would often comment to her that she should not be there – she was taking a man’s job, and she should be home making cookies. Granted, my mom was good at making cookies. But if our father had been a real man and had taken care of his family at the time, my Mom might have been able to stay home making cookies. She might have even preferred to be home. But the reality of it was that she didn’t have the chance to be a housewife, she was a laborer instead. My mom also worked at a glass factory. One of her co-workers found out about a pony that was being abused and neglected. They knew I was a horse lover and asked my Mom if we’d want to take this pony, for free. Of course, she knew right away what my answer would be. Now, mind you, he was a pony – not a horse. He was a typical adorable little pony. He was brownish with dapple white spots. He was just the cutest thing when he got his very fuzzy winter coat. He had alert bright eyes and a white main and tail. His back was not much higher than my own waist. We brought this pony to the house my Mom was renting. It had a half dilapidated two car garage. We only had one car, so we converted the other side into a ‘barn’ for the pony. I poured all my love and attention on Pokey. It was a bizarre sight to see me ride this pony. I was thin and weighed almost nothing, but I was not short. If I rode in the snow and let my feet hang, there would be the expected hoof tracks in the snow with other mysterious tracks outside those. Those two mysterious trails were where my toes dragged. It was not a charming site at all. But that didn’t matter! He was able to carry my weight without any trouble. We moved twice after we got Pokey. One time my Mom moved without me. I waited until someone could come with a trailer to get Pokey, and then I moved with him. It worked out nicely that a man who was involved with 4-H allowed me to keep Pokey in his barn without charge. In return I helped muck the stalls and went with them to get grain and sawdust. I’m very thankful to him, because we could not have afforded to pay for boarding. The barn was about 2 miles or so from our new house. I would walk there and back every day to care for him. Feed him, brush him, keep his stall (and stall of other animals) clean. Now that we were living in a more rural countryside, there were a lot of fields. I was able to ride to my hearts content. One year I was going on a trip with the school, and we had a fund raising event in a nearby store parking lot. They had a bake sale and car wash going on. Someone allowed me to borrow a saddle and I hosted pony rides. So Pokey helped me raise money for my first trip to Texas. When we moved from there, our new place was a few doors down from a small farmstead. He’d sold off most of his land years before, but kept some for a few head of steer. He allowed me to keep Pokey in his barn at a very small fee. I wanted to go to a private school, so I got a job. I worked the in the dining room and doing dishes at a nursing home a few nights a week to pay the tuition and uniform costs. In the summer I also worked during the day. Some years I worked at a local swimming pool, another year I worked in office at the Military School in town. This meant I had less time to spend with Pokey during the school year, but we made up for it in the summer. With all the hoorays of High School Graduation dies down, it meant a new chapter in life. Turning the page meant going away to school. I found a very small Bible College on the other side of the state. I was at a dilemma. What about Pokey? I had gotten to know the Spanish teacher at the private school. Her husband loved horses, and even had a few. They had three young children. My teacher’s name was Linda, and I gave Pokey to her and the family. The very last day I walked up to the barn to feed Pokey, I took a tape recorder along. I still have the recording on a cassette tape of that last whinnied greeting. It brings tears to my eyes even now to think about it. He wasn’t just a pony. He’d come to mean so much more to me. He was my best friend through the years, and through all the moves we’d made when I was a teen. I loved him and he was so special to me. Oh, how hard it was to say goodbye to him! That was many years ago. Linda's family loved on Pokey and took good care of him for the remainder of his life. So, there in my dream was Linda and Pokey. After Pokey suddenly appeared, he was behind me and nudged me in the back with his nose. But it was not a normal little nudge, but it was a superhero kind of nudge. It threw me and I went flying up, high into the air. As I was flying up, the fear of heights gripped me as I was higher than the trees. I despise the falling sensation, and this was what I was feeling next. As I was feeling those fears and sensations, I saw that Pokey was not standing on the ground. He was right high in the air right behind me. So, I could not get mad at him for throwing me up there, because we were in it together. And I said to him, “well, at least you’ll fall with me.” I remember the falling sensation in my dream. I don’t remember landing. But next in my dream I was on the ground. I was sitting back on my heels and my upper body was doubled over nearly touching the ground. My arms were bent and pulled in tight to my sides. My hands were gripping something above my head, which was down on the ground. In my dream, I was crying. It was not a little cry, but it was a broken cry that came from deep within. It was one of those cries that your whole body is tense and the only words to be heard are are little squeaks that make it over the much tightened vocal cords. I was crying and talking about my Monster Paws, and him being gone. When I woke up from my dream, the details were just so vivid. When pondering it, I realized the significance of Pokey being there. I have not thought about Pokey for awhile. But I guess losing Monster subconsciously took me to the room where my Pokey memories and feelings are. Pokey and everything about him is cherished, preserved, and stored there. And I think that is the same place that all the Monster Paws memories will be stored, preserved, and cherished.
o that’s my dream, with Fur Fear and Tears

Sunday, January 10, 2010

a witness?

Have you ever witnessed someone or something die? Until yesterday morning (with the exception of plant life), I have not. In 2001, I spent a lot of time with my sister at our Grammy’s house during her last days. They did not expect her to be with us 2 months, but she decided to hang on that long. I remember coming home from work and preparing to go to Grammy’s house. I called my sister to see if she wanted me to pick anything up on my way over. She gave me a short list. A few moments later she called me to let me know our Grammy was gone. I headed right over to the house, the list completely irrelevant now. My sister was worried how I would handle it if I had been there at the very end. I knew I wouldn’t have been able to handle it if I had been alone, but I don’t really know what I would have done had I been there with them at the time. There were some people who told me to put Monster Paws down, that it was “the right thing to do.” That last night as he struggled, I wondered if that’s what I should do? I second-guessed myself and wondered if I was just being cruel to him? The truth is that there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ in the decision. It ripped my heart out watching him. It was very hard on me, but what about him? If I were to drag his tiny frame to a vet, he would sense it. Why distress him? Why drag him to a sterile office for his last memories? Yet even on that last night he, he was aware. He was very aware of us, his surroundings, and what he wanted. He would still purr when we pet him. I carried him upstairs that night. At one point he must’ve made his way into the bedroom as I noticed he was lying on the floor at the foot of the bed. He’d spent most of his days up in that room since we lived here. At that moment though, he looked content. The next morning Hubby was kind enough to let me sleep in. When I made my way downstairs, Monster was laying on the carpet all stretched out, with the water bowl next to him. He did not lift his head when I came in the room. It was evident that his time was very close. It was very hard watching him and mentally prepare for the rest of the day at the same time. It was our Christmas get together with family that afternoon. I sat on the couch and cried for a long time. I finally got up and pulled out the ingredients to make a cheesecake for our gathering in a few hours. I was out of a key ingredient, and asked George to run to the store to pick some up as I got everything else ready. He had his coat on and was headed toward the door, but my heart stopped when he paused to pet Monster. I suggested he stay home instead. So he took off his coat and sat beside Monster. I grabbed a box of tissues and sat on the other side of him. He was never a lap cat, so we just sat there with him. Petting him softly, comforting him. I kept talking to him, assuring him we were there and that it was ok. All morning his breathing was shallow. We’d have to look very close to see if he was still breathing. But at that point he wasn’t really breathing, there were a few gasps with pauses between each. I’d wonder if he was gone, and then his whiskers twitched. His front legs moved. After a few moments his back legs moved too, but I think he was already gone and it was just the muscles. So the precise moment of when he was gone, I don’t know. His coat was still shiny and soft. His eyes were wide open. I kept stroking his head and the tears rolled down my face and I looked at the empty shell of my little “Spuddy Wuddy”. Then came the decision of what to do next? I found myself feeling like it was Dejvue as I went up to my craft room looking for a box. Wasn’t I doing this just a few months ago? Only this time I needed a much bigger box. I came downstairs with two medium size boxes. The smaller of the two was a decorative storage box. It was sturdier, so we decided to try that one first. I put in the blanket I had used to carry him outside just two days before. Hubby and I moved him together. I didn’t think the box was big enough, but I could tell Hubby thought he fit okay. To me though, Monster just didn’t look comfortable. Yes, I know he was already gone but that was not the point. Since he was already lying in the blanket, we were able to easily move him to the bigger box, then he looked comfortable. It kept taking me back to September when we lost the baby. Unlike Monster Paws, we didn’t get to see or hold the baby, nor do we have memories of or even with the baby; we only had futile hopes and dreams. But as we did in September, we’ll again have to decide on a final resting spot. Saying ‘Goodbye’ to Monster has been difficult in another way. You see, I had Monster for about a year when I got pregnant the first time. So Monster Paws was there during my pregnancy, and he was there when I lost my son to adoption. He was there that first Christmas Season when my son was gone and my heart was broken -- when I couldn’t sleep at night and cried most of the time. He was there for all the years to follow with each Mother’s Day when I looked in the mirror and hated myself. He was there for all the birthdays as I searched until I found just the right gift for my son. He was there to ‘help’ me wrap the gifts that I’d send. In a bizarre sort of way, Monster Paws is connected to my adoption story. And,well, losing him, feels like I’ve lost another piece of my son.

Friday, January 8, 2010

losing him

There has been a lot going on since July of last year. Some has been good, but it seems there have been more that I'd classify as 'difficult.' November was very hard for me this year as we were approaching the Thanksgiving season. I think the loss of the baby combined with my son's 15th birthday just a month later both weighed very heavily. I really did no look forward to the Holiday at all, because Holidays are supposed to be about celebrating. Personally, I was not celebrating. I was sad and grieving. I was trying to survive. Dont' get me wrong, I did enjoy the time my nephews came to visit around the Holiday. The night before Thanksgiving one nephew rode with me to the garage to drop off the truck and pick up the car. On our drive back home, there was a poor lonely Christmas tree laying along the highway in the rain. I figured it fell off a truck on its way to the city. We turned around and 'rescued' it. The rest of the drive back home we sang,"Oh, Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Treeeeee, we found you on the hiiiighwaaaayyyy!!!!" I leven lucked out by having all three of them sleep over one night. We all got up and decorated the tree in the morning before Hubby got out of bed. So there were fun times. But then there were the results of the xrays for the "old man" of the house, Monster Paws. The vet gave him 3-6 months. I classify that as some of the 'difficult' times. At first, it seemed the pills we got from the vet were helping because Monster did start eating again. Monster Paws, what a funny guy he's been. He's one of those social cats. He loved it when we'd have a party with a house fool of people. He loved coming out to greet and meet the company. He was EXTREMELY bad as a kitten, well for the first 8 years he was bad. Almost like a kid in that he'd do stuff just to be yelled at. He'd sit on the banister at the end of the hallway waiting for you to look at him, and when you did, he'd knock something over the side. We did not allow him on the table or counters. Every now and then we'd catch him up there, again waiting to make eye contact, then whap he'd push something off. He loved to run. When I moved from my efficiency apartment to our new house years ago, he had a ball. He loved running up and down the steps. More than that he wanted to be chased from the living room, through the dining room, up the stairs, down the hall, into the far bedroom, and back out into the hallway, down the steps, into the kitchen. Sometimes if I'd stop while chasing him, he'd gladly turn around and start chasing me ... up the stairs, down the hall, up on the bed, and down the hall agian. When he was about 9 we got him a kitten, so he'd have someone to play with. Surprising to us that cats don't like to play the same. The kitten, Pussy Willow, liked to wrestle with bunny kicks and full nelson headlocks. She wasn't interested in chasing Monster. If he would try to chase her, she would fall over to wrestle him. After awhile Monster figured it out and would wrestle with her until he'd make her mad enough that she would chase after him. Monster also loved being pushed around. If he was laying on a vinyl or hardwood floor, just give him a good push so he would slide across the floor. He thought it was great. He also enjoyed laundry basket rides. Pussy Willow has no appreciation for either game. Monster knew how to bend the rules too. At our former house he knew he was allowed on the back porch and on the outside steps, but that was the limit, he was not allowed out in the yard. Well one year he found a way to cheat. I stood at the door to see him tip toe off the steps. But he was not in the yard, no, he was tip toeing along the edge of bricks I had turned on their side to border the flower bed beside the steps. He was right, he wasn't technically in the yard. So, Monster Paws has been a fun cat with lots of personality who made everyone laugh alot. I got him when he was a kitten, shortly after moved into my first apartment. A lady I worked with at the time refused to get her cats fixed, and every year she would take a litter to the Humane Society. That particular litter she brought into work in the morning, and was going to drop off the kittens on her way back home. So I had this box of kittens at my desk mot of the day. There one that was just really adorable, but it didn't have a playful attitude like the black and tan tabby that wasn't as cute. I finally decided that I liked the spunky kitten best, even though he wasn't the cutest, and I took him home that day. In February 2010, he would be 18 years old. The pills we got from the vet, worked at first. But it got to a point where Monster is just weak and not well, and it just didn't make sense to me to be shoving pills down his throat anymore. Especially when he'd fall over when I'd try to give him a pill. Around Christas when he nearly stopped eating, I felt so incredibly guilty. I felt like I was starving him to death. But I talked w/ my sister from NJ, and she pointed out that his system is probably shutting down and that's not why he isn't eating - not that I'm starving him. So far he seems to just lay in front of the coal stove or sleep in the video rocker. Most of the times when we pet him, he purrs. I carried him outside yesterday and walked around the deck while holding him, and he was purring. I could mis-reading it, but his purring makes me feel like he's content and at least he's enjoying something in life still. He laid by the door yesterday wanting out, so I left him out. When he'd stop and lie down, I'd cover him with a small blanket. One of his trips outside he wobbled right down the steps off the deck. He started down the path (that I didn't get done because of the weather and me getting sick and now the ground is frozen) alongside the deck to the front of the house. He went to a flower bed and just sat there in the dark mulch. He looked so happy, that I grabbed my camera to get a picture. He is not indicating he's in pain. If he were in pain, we would not allow him to suffer. But if he's content to just fade away here at home and isn't suffering, that's what I want to allow him to do. That doesn't mean it's easy. It's hard, not just for me, but for my Hubby too. After all we were dating when I got Monster Paws. It really is his cat too. In fact I think Monster was more his cat than mine from the beginning. Tonight however; Monster seems restless. He isn't just curling up and going to sleep. He's moving from place to place. His back legs aren't cooperating, and he can't keep his balance. I've cried a lot tonight, because I know the time isn't far away. But how long is that, exactly. It is hard watching him struggle. He was a 17 lb cat at one time. Now he's so skinny. I don't want him to suffer, but I don't really want him to die either - I don't want to lose him. Yet, I know it will happen... it must happen. We're hoping he'll drift peacefully away in his sleep. I'll miss you Monster Paws. ***11:30am 1/9/2010 - The struggle is over, he's gone. ***