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Cjclary83

I swear it comes in waves

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Cjclary83

My husband and I lost our baby almost four months ago. This little blonde guy was our entire world and we were blindsided by his death. At the higher end of guessing (Scooter Albert was a rescue- they said he was between three and five our vet said he was barely a year old, we adopted him in 2012) he would have only been 12 years old, still too early for a chihuahua. But he had a weak heart, a beautiful loving heart, but weak nonetheless. He had CHF and the medications did nothing. There's no surgery available. One morning in particular, March 9th, he was helped out of bed and you could hear him struggling to breathe a room away. My vet couldn't see us because it was Saturday and they were about to close. So I did the only thing I could think of, I wrapped him in his favorite blanket along with his favorite toy and just rocked back and forth on the floor with him in my lap telling him how much I loved him and that he didn't need to keep fighting, he could go on and rest. Within a minute or two he was gone. I take comfort in knowing that he passed with his mom holding him with all of his favorite things nearby. I have days where he's all I think about and days when I cry and yell at god for taking him and not me. They say time heals, but I seem to get worse. My emotional pain manifests as physical pain that no medication can ease. I'm also physically very ill, but improving despite the fact I'd be happier if I were with him. I feel really upset and really alone. How does someone recover from this?

 

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KayC

Recover as in get over?  We don't.  But recover as in adjust, we can.  It takes much time and effort though and our grief is as unique as we are, our timetables too as so many different things factor in, out own resilience and personality, what else we have had going on in our lives, our support, etc.

My hardest loss was my husband 14 years ago.  We were extremely close, soul mates, best friends, lovers, partners...how do you replace that?  You don't.  You learn to live with the absence, filling the voids where you can somewhat.  Right now I have a thread here "Living with Loss", it's about my Arlie, my Golden Retriever/Siberian Husky who is my life.  I call him my soul mate in a dog because he is the perfect dog for me, his personality, he's goofy, loves to play games, is the smartest dog I've ever had, so considerate, has been my companion for over ten years, he's literally everything to me, my incentive for living.  And I'm losing him to cancer.

I've had to learn to live with loss.  I lost my dad when I was 29, over the years grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousin, niece, nephew, countless pets, friends, mom, sister, but the hardest, my husband.  Arlie will be a close second, believe it or not.  And I have no idea how I'd handle it except much the same way I dealt with the loss of my husband.  Back when that happened, I remember feeling anxious, scared, in shock, bereft, didn't know where to start.  Since then I've learned a lot about grief.  I've been on my grief forums every day, reading all the posts, responding where it's needed.  I've read books, articles, gone to grief counseling, even started my own grief support group. I did art therapy early on and that was helpful in helping me see where I was, where I needed to be, how to get there.

I wrote this at about ten years out, I hope something in it helps you now and something else later on down the road.  
 

TIPS TO MAKE YOUR WAY THROUGH GRIEF

There's no way to sum up how to go on in a simple easy answer, but I encourage you to read the other threads here, little by little you will learn how to make your way through this.  I do want to give you some pointers though, of some things I've learned on my journey.

  • Take one day at a time.  The Bible says each day has enough trouble of it's own, I've found that to be true, so don't bite off more than you can chew.  It can be challenging enough just to tackle today.  I tell myself, I only have to get through today.  Then I get up tomorrow and do it all over again.  To think about the "rest of my life" invites anxiety.
  • Don't be afraid, grief may not end but it evolves.  The intensity lessens eventually.
  • Visit your doctor.  Tell them about your loss, any troubles sleeping, suicidal thoughts, anxiety attacks.  They need to know these things in order to help you through it...this is all part of grief.
  • Suicidal thoughts are common in early grief.  If they're reoccurring, call a suicide hotline.  I felt that way early on, but then realized it wasn't that I wanted to die so much as I didn't want to go through what I'd have to face if I lived.  Back to taking a day at a time.  Suicide Hotline - Call 1-800-273-8255
  • Give yourself permission to smile.  It is not our grief that binds us to them, but our love, and that continues still.
  • Try not to isolate too much.  
  • There's a balance to reach between taking time to process our grief, and avoiding it...it's good to find that balance for yourself.  We can't keep so busy as to avoid our grief, it has a way of haunting us, finding us, and demanding we pay attention to it!  Some people set aside time every day to grieve.  I didn't have to, it searched and found me!
  • Self-care is extremely important, more so than ever.  That person that would have cared for you is gone, now you're it...learn to be your own best friend, your own advocate, practice self-care.  You'll need it more than ever.
  • Recognize that your doctor isn't trained in grief, find a professional grief counselor that is.  We need help finding ourselves through this maze of grief, knowing where to start, etc.  They have not only the knowledge, but the resources.
  • In time, consider a grief support group.  If your friends have not been through it themselves, they may not understand what you're going through, it helps to find someone somewhere who DOES "get it". 
  • Be patient, give yourself time.  There's no hurry or timetable about cleaning out belongings, etc.  They can wait, you can take a year, ten years, or never deal with it.  It's okay, it's what YOU are comfortable with that matters.  
  • Know that what we are comfortable with may change from time to time.  That first couple of years I put his pictures up, took them down, up, down, depending on whether it made me feel better or worse.  Finally, they were up to stay.
  • Consider a pet.  Not everyone is a pet fan, but I've found that my dog helps immensely.  It's someone to love, someone to come home to, someone happy to see me, someone that gives me a purpose...I have to come home and feed him.  Besides, they're known to relieve stress.  Well maybe not in the puppy stage when they're chewing up everything, but there's older ones to adopt if you don't relish that stage.
  • Make yourself get out now and then.  You may not feel interest in anything, things that interested you before seem to feel flat now.  That's normal.  Push yourself out of your comfort zone just a wee bit now and then.  Eating out alone, going to a movie alone or church alone, all of these things are hard to do at first.  You may feel you flunked at it, cried throughout, that's okay, you did it, you tried, and eventually you get a little better at it.  If I waited until I had someone to do things with I'd be stuck at home a lot.
  • Keep coming here.  We've been through it and we're all going through this together.
  • Look for joy in every day.  It will be hard to find at first, but in practicing this, it will change your focus so you can embrace what IS rather than merely focusing on what ISN'T.  It teaches you to live in the present and appreciate fully.  You have lost your big joy in life, and all other small joys may seem insignificant in comparison, but rather than compare what used to be to what is, learn the ability to appreciate each and every small thing that comes your way...a rainbow, a phone call from a friend, unexpected money, a stranger smiling at you, whatever the small joy, embrace it.  It's an art that takes practice and is life changing if you continue it.
  • Eventually consider volunteering.  It helps us when we're outward focused, it's a win/win.

(((hugs))) Praying for you today.

 

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Cjclary83
Recover as in get over?  We don't.  But recover as in adjust, we can.  It takes much time and effort though and our grief is as unique as we are, our timetables too as so many different things factor in, out own resilience and personality, what else we have had going on in our lives, our support, etc.
My hardest loss was my husband 14 years ago.  We were extremely close, soul mates, best friends, lovers, partners...how do you replace that?  You don't.  You learn to live with the absence, filling the voids where you can somewhat.  Right now I have a thread here "Living with Loss", it's about my Arlie, my Golden Retriever/Siberian Husky who is my life.  I call him my soul mate in a dog because he is the perfect dog for me, his personality, he's goofy, loves to play games, is the smartest dog I've ever had, so considerate, has been my companion for over ten years, he's literally everything to me, my incentive for living.  And I'm losing him to cancer.
I've had to learn to live with loss.  I lost my dad when I was 29, over the years grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousin, niece, nephew, countless pets, friends, mom, sister, but the hardest, my husband.  Arlie will be a close second, believe it or not.  And I have no idea how I'd handle it except much the same way I dealt with the loss of my husband.  Back when that happened, I remember feeling anxious, scared, in shock, bereft, didn't know where to start.  Since then I've learned a lot about grief.  I've been on my grief forums every day, reading all the posts, responding where it's needed.  I've read books, articles, gone to grief counseling, even started my own grief support group. I did art therapy early on and that was helpful in helping me see where I was, where I needed to be, how to get there.
I wrote this at about ten years out, I hope something in it helps you now and something else later on down the road.  
 

TIPS TO MAKE YOUR WAY THROUGH GRIEF

There's no way to sum up how to go on in a simple easy answer, but I encourage you to read the other threads here, little by little you will learn how to make your way through this.  I do want to give you some pointers though, of some things I've learned on my journey.

  • Take one day at a time.  The Bible says each day has enough trouble of it's own, I've found that to be true, so don't bite off more than you can chew.  It can be challenging enough just to tackle today.  I tell myself, I only have to get through today.  Then I get up tomorrow and do it all over again.  To think about the "rest of my life" invites anxiety.
  • Don't be afraid, grief may not end but it evolves.  The intensity lessens eventually.
  • Visit your doctor.  Tell them about your loss, any troubles sleeping, suicidal thoughts, anxiety attacks.  They need to know these things in order to help you through it...this is all part of grief.
  • Suicidal thoughts are common in early grief.  If they're reoccurring, call a suicide hotline.  I felt that way early on, but then realized it wasn't that I wanted to die so much as I didn't want to go through what I'd have to face if I lived.  Back to taking a day at a time.  Suicide Hotline - Call 1-800-273-8255
  • Give yourself permission to smile.  It is not our grief that binds us to them, but our love, and that continues still.
  • Try not to isolate too much.  
  • There's a balance to reach between taking time to process our grief, and avoiding it...it's good to find that balance for yourself.  We can't keep so busy as to avoid our grief, it has a way of haunting us, finding us, and demanding we pay attention to it!  Some people set aside time every day to grieve.  I didn't have to, it searched and found me!
  • Self-care is extremely important, more so than ever.  That person that would have cared for you is gone, now you're it...learn to be your own best friend, your own advocate, practice self-care.  You'll need it more than ever.
  • Recognize that your doctor isn't trained in grief, find a professional grief counselor that is.  We need help finding ourselves through this maze of grief, knowing where to start, etc.  They have not only the knowledge, but the resources.
  • In time, consider a grief support group.  If your friends have not been through it themselves, they may not understand what you're going through, it helps to find someone somewhere who DOES "get it". 
  • Be patient, give yourself time.  There's no hurry or timetable about cleaning out belongings, etc.  They can wait, you can take a year, ten years, or never deal with it.  It's okay, it's what YOU are comfortable with that matters.  
  • Know that what we are comfortable with may change from time to time.  That first couple of years I put his pictures up, took them down, up, down, depending on whether it made me feel better or worse.  Finally, they were up to stay.
  • Consider a pet.  Not everyone is a pet fan, but I've found that my dog helps immensely.  It's someone to love, someone to come home to, someone happy to see me, someone that gives me a purpose...I have to come home and feed him.  Besides, they're known to relieve stress.  Well maybe not in the puppy stage when they're chewing up everything, but there's older ones to adopt if you don't relish that stage.
  • Make yourself get out now and then.  You may not feel interest in anything, things that interested you before seem to feel flat now.  That's normal.  Push yourself out of your comfort zone just a wee bit now and then.  Eating out alone, going to a movie alone or church alone, all of these things are hard to do at first.  You may feel you flunked at it, cried throughout, that's okay, you did it, you tried, and eventually you get a little better at it.  If I waited until I had someone to do things with I'd be stuck at home a lot.
  • Keep coming here.  We've been through it and we're all going through this together.
  • Look for joy in every day.  It will be hard to find at first, but in practicing this, it will change your focus so you can embrace what IS rather than merely focusing on what ISN'T.  It teaches you to live in the present and appreciate fully.  You have lost your big joy in life, and all other small joys may seem insignificant in comparison, but rather than compare what used to be to what is, learn the ability to appreciate each and every small thing that comes your way...a rainbow, a phone call from a friend, unexpected money, a stranger smiling at you, whatever the small joy, embrace it.  It's an art that takes practice and is life changing if you continue it.
  • Eventually consider volunteering.  It helps us when we're outward focused, it's a win/win.
(((hugs))) Praying for you today.
 
KayC, thank you so much for reaching out and the wonderful advice. I wasn't this devastated when my father died just over a year ago. Sure, I cried a lot but it was only "sharp" for a week or so, maybe because I was more focused on my mother. But if I think about Scooter or talk about him long enough (2-3 minutes) I will be an absolute basket case. I'm looking for a mental health professional currently. I'm not coping with his death in a healthy way and being a nurse with multiple degrees in psychology, I know of what I speak. Thank you again.

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jashar1

Cjclary83,

We just lost our little chihuahua 10 days ago after rescuing her in Dec. 2011, not long before you found your Chi.  It's by far the most painful thing I've ever been though, and I've survived some really hard times in the past, including loosing my close grandpa a half year ago.  The waves of grief are nearly unbearable, the pain is so violently sharp and physical that I feel like I'm going to have a heart attack from it.

These little Chihuahuas grab your heart from day one, and over time they blend their souls into ours.  And when they graduate from this life, the holes they leave behind are enormous.  Every day I swing from stability to instability in a hodgepodge of finding new tears, new anger, new questions, new regrets, newly recovered memories of good times, and some new revelation.  I look forward to the end of each day so that I can sleep and then become anxious as next Friday gets closer (which will be the two week anniversary of her passing).

But today's little revelation is helping more than others.  Our little Chi, Hopi, wanted nothing more than to make us happy (and eat food!).  She was a chronic kisser and would lick our hands for HOURS.  She slept right in between us every night, coddling with one of us for part of the night, then the other.  She taught me so much about limitless love - I swear, she increased my capacity to love and share love by volumes!  And she held on as long as her little body would let her because she cared that much about us.

Today it dawned on me that she deserves to be happy in the afterlife and not sad over our grief.  Sometimes I still feel her in my arms, licking my hand.  And I'd hate for her to feel like she didn't accomplish all of the lessons she was teaching us, or to feel unresolved, or that she didn't do something right.  She held on far longer than she should have, and I don't want her to grieve for us now that she's finally free of the pain she was in.  I can't bear to think of her heart breaking for us right now, so I'm going to try to put on a brave face for her the way she did for us the last couple of years.  I want her to sit in my grandma's lap and lick her hand until we can see her again.

Before I sign off, let me say that I didn't even like little dogs before Hopi, and the closest pets I had before her were male so I didn't think I'd like a little female dog.  Well, this was the first lesson she taught me.  I'm pretty stubborn and don't like being wrong, but when I met her she started proving me wrong about all sorts of stuff left and right.  The latest thing she's taught me is that animals must have an afterlife, something I was taught didn't exist.  But I've heard her and have felt her often, so I know she's there (just in better shape than me now!).  I'm still pissed and angry that God would put an expiration date on this perfect little creature's body.  But Chihuahuas have much bigger personalities than their little bodies can contain in life, which is why they obviously carry on afterwards.  We always joked that Hopi's enlarged heart was trying to contain all the love she had, but it's true in a sense.  And I still feel her love now, so I'm just going to try to mimic her Bigger Than Life personality as much as I can until the pain eases a bit.  She's a good girl, and she does good for us even now.

Take care,

Aaron

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Cjclary83

Aaron,
Thank you so much for sharing with me. I'm so sorry you lost your baby girl. I find myself yelling at whatever higher power looks over us that Scooter didn't need to die, and I would more than happily trade places. His love knew no bounds (except for Cheetos, we never figured that out, lol). He loved me when I was at my most unloveable. The more physically ill I became, the more of a companion he was to me. He never judged me, boundless love. I also believe his heart became enlarged because of all the love he got and gave out. Once I'm healthy again, my hubby and I will be moving and I intend to adopt again. I don't want to live without him, but your point has changed my perspective. I don't want angel Scooter being distressed in any way because of my suffering. That's an incredible point you've made: we believe they live on in spirit but then we show them nothing but fear, anger, and pain. I'm going to try to keep that in perspective, thank you! Thank you also for caring enough to reply. I hope you do well on your grief journey. With love...

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KayC
22 hours ago, Cjclary83 said:

I'm not coping with his death in a healthy way and being a nurse with multiple degrees in psychology, I know of what I speak.

Just be easy on yourself, you're grieving and that's not for sissies!  Be patient and understanding of yourself. Understand that loss of a close pet can be one of the hardest losses to deal with, we live with them, they're part of our everyday routine and interactions.  Those routines we normally have, them greeting us, their empty food and water bowl still on the floor, seeing their fur lingering on the furniture, no one asking for a walk or a treat, those are all triggers to us in early grief, until it sinks in to us they aren't here...and that takes time to process, I mean it can take a good deal of time.  After my husband passed away, when I'd hear the door open or a car pull up or the phone ring, for a moment I'd forget and think it was him...and then the realization that he was gone would hit and it was like hitting me all over again day one!  When a year went by I no longer thought it was him when the phone rang, etc. because it had sunk into me, but oh gosh it can take quite a while for it to get into the core of us where it doesn't slap us with it afresh!

You also have a void left...your little one gave you love unconditionally.  She didn't care what you looked like or about morning breath, or even if you were grumpy!  They love us all the same.  One of the reasons we get so attached to them!  They're not only adorable but happy to see us, forgiving, accepting.  They require so little from us, unlike people, and give so much in return!  How can we not grieve them to our core!

But the mere passage of time does little to help us with our grief, it's what we do with it.  Our outlook, attitudes, resilience, even the grief work we put in (books, articles, forums, journaling, counseling, grief support group, I've even done art therapy!) helps us with the processing.  It's good to let ourselves feel our pain, cry, scream if it helps!  Again, all part of the processing.  Bottling it up or putting it on the back burner trying to ignore it is probably the most unhealthy thing we can do with our grief, because it doesn't just go away, it's there, ready to raise it's head even years down the road when you least expect it.  It's good to give ourselves permission to feel our feelings, but also to work on processing our grief and finding ways through it to help our adjustment.  That doesn't happen inside a week or even a month.  I lost my granddoggy, Skye, September 3 2013 I'm still not "over it".  As long as I draw breath I will still miss him.  But I have gotten more used to it.  He's buried in my back yard...yesterday I went and looked at his gravesite.  I think of him often, he was very special, and there will never be another dog even close to being like him.  My son and I can both still tear up at the thoughts of Skye.  But we've adjusted, we know life continues, he's gotten another dog and I love him and I still have my Arlie to love.

There are grief counselors for pet loss, it might take some calls to find one.  If there are none in your area, you might find one that would counsel by phone, some do that as well.  I wish you the best and hope you'll continue to come here and keep us posted with how you're doing.  This isn't quick or easy but it can be born.

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Cjclary83

Thank you so much. His passing left me a shell of who I was. I isolated myself, never left the house, stopped caring what I looked like, and went days without taking my medications or eating. The only way I slept was when I eventually passed out from crying. I lost about ten pounds, which brought me to a very dangerous 74 lbs and got me on iv feeding which has thankfully been effective, I'm up ten lbs! But I am doing grief work and I'm letting myself cry as often as I want. My loved ones understand. I know I'll get through this initial stage of trauma, but I also know he'll always be with me. Thank you again!

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KayC

I'm glad you're doing your grief work and getting some weight back on.  This is not easy.  Facing losing my little boy, Arlie, is one of the hardest things I've had to go through and I'm just beginning.

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jashar1
On 6/24/2019 at 7:02 PM, Cjclary83 said:

Aaron,
Thank you so much for sharing with me. I'm so sorry you lost your baby girl. I find myself yelling at whatever higher power looks over us that Scooter didn't need to die, and I would more than happily trade places. His love knew no bounds (except for Cheetos, we never figured that out, lol). He loved me when I was at my most unloveable. The more physically ill I became, the more of a companion he was to me. He never judged me, boundless love. I also believe his heart became enlarged because of all the love he got and gave out. Once I'm healthy again, my hubby and I will be moving and I intend to adopt again. I don't want to live without him, but your point has changed my perspective. I don't want angel Scooter being distressed in any way because of my suffering. That's an incredible point you've made: we believe they live on in spirit but then we show them nothing but fear, anger, and pain. I'm going to try to keep that in perspective, thank you! Thank you also for caring enough to reply. I hope you do well on your grief journey. With love...

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Thanks for the kind response - my emotions were starting to dip again that evening, and I was telling Hopi that it wasn't her fault I was crying, that I just love her so much.  And when I read this, my tears started drying and I felt better.

Much later in the evening, I was getting ready for bed and made some side comment to God, "See?  She really is an angel, a bright spark in a dark world, and you took that from us."  (I find myself talking to all sorts of invisible stuff these days, which makes me feel like a crazy man!)  Well, that little side comment ignited the angriest diatribe I've ever spit out.  My partner found me downstairs wailing on my knees in a puddle of hot, furious tears, shaking my overextended middle finger at the ceiling, screaming that God was evil, that he was Satan, that he belonged in hell for what he does to us and our babies.

It was all out WAR, F-bombs were dropping everywhere, and I was asking God how on earth he could be so jealous of our love that he'd take her away from me.  How could he protect this baby for 10 years at the puppy mill, and then just...   And then I just stopped - it hit me like ice water to the face.  Hopi spent the first half of her life being used and abused by "irresponsible breeders", let's just say.  When Hopi stopped producing viable litters, the breeders tossed her out on the street to fend for herself.  At that time, she was about 10 years old, grossly underweight (she's a strapping 4-pounder normally, but at that time she was an emaciated 3 lbs), she had rotten teeth hanging out of her mouth, patches of hair missing, and a very large hernia on her abdomen.

It was my cousin who heard her whimpering outside of her window, hiding under the bushes to keep out of the rain.  When my Aunt and Uncle went outside to look for her, Hopi scampered under their van, and at first they thought she was a rat.  This poor girl was hardly equipped to handle anything in nature, whether it was the weather, the huge birds in the area, or the large dogs that roamed neighborhood.  But somehow, she survived all of these things.  My aunt brought this timid little sack of bones to my mom's house, and when I was over there to visit, Hopi walked across the couch, curled up in my lap and laid her head down, eyes nervously darting between my mom and I a few times before closing.  I asked my mom, how on earth is this little thing alive?  I don't get it.  My mom said she had no idea, but she may not last long given the state she was in.

Well Hopi made it another month, and when I went to mom's for a visit Hopi was all over me the whole time, clinging like a wad of static electricity.  My mom asked if we wanted to take Hopi home, and I would have said no except Hopi was on me at the time and I just felt so sorry for her.  A day later, we were headed back to Houston with this little critter, stopping for a few bare essentials like food, bowls, blankets, and cute little dresses.  We took her to the vet the next day, confirmed there was no chip or tattoo, and scheduled surgery for her hernia, spaying, and teeth cleaning.  The vet did a heartworm test and said that Hopi was so chock full of heartworms that she may not even survive the slow-kill method.  But she did.  And then she survived a major stroke not long afterwards.  The vet said she was lucky this time and to expect more strokes in the future, one of which will probably kill her.  Well that was seven years ago and she didn't have anything near a stroke until a few months ago, and she got through that one just fine.

Over the 8 years we had her, she faced death's door numerous times for all sorts of reasons.  And she'd just lift her leg a little and pee on it, kick some dirt in the air so that everyone knew who was the boss, and then charge back into life with full force.  Two nights ago, when I was cursing God I finally got it.  She wasn't taken from me.  She had been protected for ten long years at a hideous puppy mill, and even though she should have died back then, maybe God was saving her for us.  When she was just skin and bones and falling apart, he threw a lasso over her to keep her together and then put his hands around her so the predators couldn't get to her before she was safely in our arms.  Time and again, he guided veterinarians when they were nervous about working with such a small little thing.  And even though we thought in the beginning that we'd only get to spoil her for a few months, those months turned into a year, and then after that came another year and another and another until she lived out a second life with us.  

One of the songs I made up for her starts off, "She's tiny and beautiful, the Baby Bug I love, my angel from above."  It's clear now that she really was my angel from above, that she was made for us, and that she was protected and kept for us.  She was a piece of heaven we got to borrow for a bit, and the years we had with her are just a small advance on the eternity we'll have with her when we pass.  She was a gift.  Not a torture device for our agony!

That chunk of our hearts that is missing now, it isn't lost - it's in heaven with our babies.  So we have a foot in the door, and if we ever get a gift like that again, I'll love the snot out of it too and tie another chunk of my heart to it.  Bit by bit, I'll make it to heaven, no matter how long the scenic route takes.

The quote you posted confirmed this for me:  Love has only a beginning, it has no end.

Take care,

Aaron

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