Last weekend Mark’s parents visited with their dog Max, and at one point during the weekend I found spots of blood on the floor in our master bedroom hallway, and I first wondered if I’d cut myself shaving, but I didn’t, and all of the other humans swore they weren’t bleeding either, and I couldn’t recall a homicide having taken place, so we eventually decided that the blood was coming from one of the dogs. So we started playing Pin the Blood on the Appropriate Dog Orifice, so we were taking toilet paper to all of the dog orifices, and we all kind of prematurely concluded that Max was dying, because Howie is far more healthy.
But THEN, we discovered that the source of blood was actually Howie’s penis, which seems really unfair, because he JUST underwent surgery to remove a benign tumor from his shoulder and also had a wart removed from his tail and a skin tag removed from his eye. (He’s a hot mess, basically.) So THEN we decided that Howie was going to die, and he’s like Joel’s greatest obsession, so we’d have to get a new goldendoodle and name him Howie to avoid Joel being traumatized. But THEN we found out (via Google) that 95% of nine-year-old unaltered male dogs get this prostate condition called BPH, which isn’t life threatening.
So Mark took Howie to the vet yesterday, and our suspicions were confirmed. They prescribed antibiotics, and if those don’t help, Howie will be getting the scrotal ablation after all. Mark told me that the vet shoved her hand up Howie’s colon and was like, “There is a LOT of poop in here.” And she was correct, because Howie shit like seven times after his visit. I’m sorry this was all so disgusting, but this is just the reality we live in with our unneutered, geriatric dog.
This past week I met a college friend for lunch. She knew about Matthew, but not Joel, which illustrates just how close we are, but I don’t have many friends left, so I thought, “Who am I to turn down a lunch invite from a person who actually doesn’t even trigger me in any way whatsoever?” So upon finding out about Joel, my friend was like, “So how do you like being a mom?!” And I was like, “Ummmmm… Well my introduction to motherhood was brutal, and these last two years have been the roughest of my life, but Joel brings me a lot of joy…” And she just kind of stared at me. Later she suggested I do some play dates with her cousin who just moved to town and has a two-year-old boy, and I was like, “Uhhhhh… Yeah, so… This is in no way ever going to happen…” And she just kind of stared at me again.
A couple of weeks ago, Mark’s sister visited, and it was so much fun to have her here. She’s working on her master’s in biology, so we still had Joel’s babysitter Holly come so Kathryn could study lots. Well, I guess one day while I was away Holly asked Kathryn about Matthew, and Kathryn told her about him, and she said I had Matthew’s story written down as well as some other “writings.” And Holly was like, “You mean, she has a blog?” And Kathryn, knowing I don’t share my blog with Joel’s caretakers was like, “Uhhhhh… Ummmmm… Uhhhhh…” So this is kind of making me feel uncomfortable, but I’m trying to just pretend it never happened.
I went into work to sign checks on Friday, and a co-worker saw me and was like, “Welcome back!” as though I’d been out on an extended leave of absence or something, which I haven’t. I’m glad to know I’m succeeding in making myself consistently visible…
My mom recently informed me that in January 2018 she and my aunt will be going to the Crossing Over with John Edward live show in San Francisco, California, which I made fun of this person, a medium, in one of my first blog posts ever, but I’m kind of insanely jealous of my mom, if I’m being honest… Perhaps I’ll look for a Missouri tour date.
About two weeks ago, I had about two days of extreme apathy when I couldn’t be bothered to do anything (except for ensure that Joel was well cared for). I wasn’t off work, so I had childcare, but I didn’t work or even check my email. Instead I read a novel (The River at Night by Erica Ferenick – I recommend it, as it’s super scary and messed up!), and I was completely unresponsive to phone calls and texts, and I didn’t engage in as many obsessive behaviors either (i.e. texting the babysitter from the other room to ask whether Joel was breathing). My therapist considered it kind of a breakthrough, because everyone survived without me actively trying to prevent the tragedies I think are lurking around every corner necessitating my crippling anxiety and extreme measures.
Does anyone watch Big Brother? It’s on every summer, and it’s one of my favorite shows. In the summer of 2013, Mark and I vacationed to Southern California, and we got to be part of the live studio audience and sit in the second row. It was the coolest experience, we had to get there like four hours early to ensure our spot, and we were first in line, but this other super fan tried to cut in front of us, so I considered throat punching him, and there was a lot of animosity between us, but once we both got in, we bonded over our superfandom. We got to see Julie Chen and the outside of the Big Brother house and everything that goes on behind the scenes. I’d love to be on the show someday, but they cast mostly under 30s, so I’m concerned my ship has sailed.
Joel is officially walking now. He took like 15 steps across our living room last night, and I posted a poor-quality video on Instagram, because I was super excited. It is so excruciatingly painful to think that I’ll never see the pride and joy on Matthew’s face as he learns to walk.
While I don’t want Joel to grow up tooooo fast, it does bring me joy/relief when he meets major milestones, and, also, I’m having trouble finding good activities outside the house to do with a baby who is on the verge of walking but still can’t walk, especially when it’s 95 degrees and 400 percent humidity. Yesterday we went to the Missouri Museum of Transportation, and although Joel had fun on the train, I didn’t find the experience pleasurable on any level. We just need a better selection of age appropriate activities, and I think Joel walking will broaden the horizons.
A few Saturdays ago, I was lying next to Joel on the floor while he took his afternoon nap, and I was looking at my cell phone. I logged into Mark’s Facebook (which I seldom do), and I ended up stumbling upon a bereaved parent from my hometown. She lost her 16-year-old about 16 years ago, when we were both 16. He died in a car accident. I perused her profile, and then I remembered a couple other families who’d lost kids my age when I was in middle school or high school. One family lost their only son (13) after a car struck his bike. Another family lost their two teenage boys after their car slid on a patch of ice the day after Christmas. (I found these parents’ profiles as well.) I don’t know what it’s like to lose a teenager (or two teenagers), but, regardless, I think about these parents so much now. All of them still post frequently about their kids, still do so many wonderful things to honor them. It was devastating to see. And it was also comforting. The visual confirmation that love never dies.
Later someone asked me what I’d done during the latter part of the day, and I told them I was looking up bereaved parents from my hometown, bawling my eyes out, and this person kind of gave me the side eye. But, like, this is truly how I spend my time sometimes, sooooo…
Recently a friend with a new baby (first, boy, because what else?) invited us to dinner. I was like, “Maybe after we get through July.” I told my therapist about this, and he was like, “Your answer implied that August will be better.” Touché.
Sometimes Mark acts like I don’t have the right to be extra sad during July because Joel’s birthday is also in July, and this is really freaking irritating.
Matthew’s birthday is Thursday, and we aren’t sure what we’re going to do, but Mark and I both took the day off work. Last year, our plans kind of were obliterated. I was in the hospital overnight on July 11 and didn’t get released until later on July 12. On July 11, they’d contemplated delivering Joel ON Matthew’s birthday, which was upsetting. On July 13 we went out to eat at a local pizzeria and then to Matthew’s grave with a birthday balloon, and in the evening we were going to bake cupcakes, but a huge summer storm ripped through, and much of the area lost power, so we ate pizza by candlelight and got rained on at the cemetery, and I stood at the grave while Joel’s movement was generally not-so-reassuring, wondering if he could be dead too. And then we didn’t get to make the cupcakes at all, and we had to drop a bunch of money on a generator, because our house was HOT.
Hopefully whatever plan we make this year gets to come to fruition, though I’m not sure what it will be. Nothing we planned last year felt right, because how could a birthday ever feel right when the guest of honor is missing? I just wish that whatever we do will honor Matthew and be an expression of our love for him and bring us peace on some level… (The “peace” part is unlikely.)