weekly photo challenge: gone, but not forgotten

On Tuesday we took one last trip to the vet. He had been quiet and developed a sore on his mouth over Thanksgiving. He still woke up before I did, kept me company in the bathroom as I got ready for work and he still greeted me when I came home each day. As I studied for my class he always slept near me on the couch; if I woke up at night, I would find him nestled at my feet.

We had made this trip multiple times before. Each time there was an ointment for a sore, a tiny tablet for elevated blood pressure or drops for itchy ears. Each time we came home. With those memories fresh in my mind, I didn’t spend extra time with him on Tuesday.

The sore was an aggressive tumor. We were offered pain killers and antibiotics if we wanted more time. Of course we wanted more time but we didn’t want him to suffer.

I spoke softly to him, stroked his fur and stayed close to his face. His eyes stayed focused on mine until the drugs fully set in.

He came home with me when he was five years old. He was happy to escape the shelter but he had been neglected and possibly abused. The skin around his neck was raw where he had outgrown his collar which had to be removed by a vet. I found that if I approached him with anything in my hand, he would hide under a bed for hours. For years, he devoured his food as if we would not feed him again.

He moved with me a few times, becoming more friendly, relaxed and playful. He worried less about food, he would lounge wherever he wanted and whack our legs as we walked by when he wanted to play. During some of the worst and some of the very best times in my life, he was there. He always knew when to seek me out and snuggle closer.

When we finally bought a house, a big selling point was a bay window he would like. For years, most sunny days were spent sleeping in that window.

The house is too empty and I haven’t established a routine without him yet. The pain of loss is strong but I am tremendously grateful for each moment I had with one of my best friends.

Rest in peace, old man.

May 2, 1997-December 2, 2014


back to school

This was our first week back to work. School starts Tuesday. I am in my fourth week as a student in a certificate program. The classes I teach in public school usually take most of my time but now I have 20 hours of work a week for the class I am taking…until November, then I can add a full Saturday of teaching (for five weeks) to the mix. All the classes are challenging, tremendous work, rewarding and leave me no time to contribute to a blog.

If I’m lucky I’ll find a time to sneak back in.

I will miss reading your posts and creating my own for a few months but I will be back.



stories of resilience from Cambodia and Sri Lanka

This past week I read two books in preparation for my first trip to Cambodia and my sixth visit to Sri Lanka. I highly suggest both.

I try to read first-person stories from a country before I visit. Although both books address profound loss I realize there are many fully positive stories from these countries as well.

First They Killed My Father is an autobiographical story told by a young, well-to-do girl from Phnom Penh who survives the genocide arranged by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia from 1975 to 1979.

Wave recounts the loss of a woman’s family while on vacation in Yala when the 2004 South Asian tsunami struck Sri Lanka.

While both stories are breathtakingly horrific and tragic both women are courageous, determined and resilient despite seemingly insurmountable heartbreak.


weekly photo challenge: contrasts

He looks the same, just less nervous. His smile is more broad. He will now be able to vote in the nation where he has paid taxes and served the country’s citizens for twenty-five years. No more worries about visas before every single trip. Homeland Security will no longer detain him for hours because an agent wrote the wrong code on a travel document. His family will no longer “worry about him getting into some sort of trouble” and if he ever does… his country will help to protect him.

This week my husband became an American citizen. These photos were taken from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, where we ended our day of celebration, after a raging summer storm transformed to a calm sunset.