2018: A LESSON IN LOSS, GRIEF, & MOURNING
A year ago, I was working on a post about Gypsy’s passing but it never made it to publish. So now here I am on the one year anniversary of her death, now mourning the loss of my beloved Garth and reflecting back on the year that felt like it lasted forever.
Cannot even believe it has been one year since she passed. Losing her was the most gut wrenching, heartbreaking experiences of my life thus far. I’ll never forget that morning. She had been at the vet, just two days before and we were waiting on some test results. Her symptoms had taken a turn for the worse and James was going to bring her back in that morning. His office was right by the vet, so I made him an english muffin to take with him and was ready for my 3rd day of staycation. (The pipes had burst at my job and we were going to be out for a week, possibly two.)
Things got real serious, real quick as we lifted her out of her bed. I swear I saw her take her last breath and we raced out of the door. I was still in my pajamas. Her cute lil piglet stomach that I used to blow raspberries was turning blue and I’m fairly certain she was DOA when we walked into the emergency vet but we still tried to resuscitate her anyway. We were sitting in the sterile room and I could hear casual conversation and machines beeping on the other side of the door… and it made me feel hopeful. Until the doctor walked in and said they just couldn’t find a heartbeat.
January had already been off to a rough start….while in Seattle, James and I got into an epic New Year’s fight, literally at 12:05am, now known as the Full Moon Meltdown.. We bounced back and it didn’t ruin our trip, but we really had to evaluate our relationship and talk it out. Losing Gypsy was rock bottom for us but through our pain, she really brought us closer and for that, we thank you Gyppy. Love you long time. As I mentioned, just two days before she passed, I learned I was going to be out of work for a at least a week. Despite being brokeish, the timing of it all so worked out for me. When would I have ever had a week off to grieve about my dog? Life-changing events aside, January carried on as per usual. Work, Capricorn birthdays, and trying to stay warm.
I love February. I feel like it’s when I really come alive. January is always a throw away month. Plus, I get hyped to celebrate the Lunar New Year and our wedding anniversary. Even though Valentine’s Day is a fake ass corporate consumerist holiday, I do love that everything is pink and red and heart-shaped. We kept it pretty chill for our anniversary on the 8th. We were treating ourselves to a quick trip to NYC to visit Adam and celebrate the Lunar New Year!
First of all, flying to NYC makes me feel so boujie! We hopped off the plane and hit Chinatown for lunch. We went to Magic Jewelry to get our Aura photos taken! James and I were arguing over a sesame ball, so I’d honestly like a re-do. We partied, played pinball, made smashed cucumbers and longevity noodles while masking, ate veggie sliders from White Castle, and went to an Islanders hockey game. It was nice to getaway, hang with buds, and not be sad for a weekend.
Right after we got back from New York, Lauren came to town from Seattle and Makiko was crashing with us before moving to California. I couldn’t believe I got to see all of my best friends in such a short time. Dare I say, my heart was full? My friends mean so much to me and I get so happy when we are all together again, like old times.
My pal Cate of Van Herten Outerwear made this dress, so cute right? Bridal showers & birthdays, ‘tis the season! I went to drag brunch, died, woke up on Ellen’s couch, and then went to Summer’s birthday dinner. WHEW! I finally went to the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Norfolk and I actually had a good time. I don’t know why but I’ve never really liked the month of March. I hate the number 3? It’s always still super cold, plus after a 28 day month, a 31 day month just drags on and on before my most favorite month of the year.
April is my favorite month, duh. It’s my birthday month! This April was particularly exciting. Our friend just happened to be fostering eight puppies and we just had to meet them. I wasn’t quite ready to get another dog just yet and I reallllly wasn’t into the idea of getting a puppy, but with Garth, it was getting hard to find an older dog (preferably a pitbull) that was okay with cats. Long story short, we got a puppy!!! Her name is Pebbles and our friends Ellen & Jason adopted her sister, Bonnie!!! There is really something special about adopting litter-mates with friends. (re: Garth & Pigeon)
One night, James and I were having a drink at our fav neighborhood bar, Bamboo. He was pretty much hating his job, hating his role, and we were trying to figure out our life plan. As much as I have grown to love living in Richmond, I still dream about dropping everything and moving to California or somewhere warm. We’ll do it one day when it feels right. Anyway, he spoke some goals into the Universe and literally a few days later, he was approached about an incredible job opportunity. He cut his hair, met his potential new bosses, quit his job, and geared up to start his new gig! Oh James and his charmed life!
It just so happened that he was going to be temporary chillin’ for the last two weeks of April, so on a whim, my man decided to take me to Miami for my birthday! I know, y’all think Miami is overrated, but I love it. We rented a cute Airbnb that was across the street from a vegan cafe and a bodega. I kinda love going to different cities and getting in a routine. Most days, we started with coladas, hit the beach, tried different vegan food, hit sunset yoga, then partied with our friend Kiko. What can I say, MIA is my home away from home.
I won a yoga mat at the first Saturday Salutations hosted by Project Yoga Richmond at the VMFA. Come practice with me! Every season from May to October, PYR hosts Saturday Salutations. Every other Saturday, you can attend a donation-based 60 minute yoga class on the deck of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. It’s a quick ride down the street and nothing makes me feel more Sporty Spice than riding my bike while wearing my yoga mat.
We traveled to the Eastern Shore for Ellen & Jason’s magical wedding, watched our friends perform at the hip-hop gig, and took Pebbles on her first boat ride !!! Spring in Richmond is the best!
I really struggled with getting another dog. I didn’t want to feel like I was replacing Gypsy but bringing Pebbles into our family has brought us so much joy and happiness. She has such a goofy personality and has the sweetest soul, just like Gyppy. It’s hard not to compare them and as much as they are alike, she definitely has her own spunky vibe and I just love her so much. It didn’t take long for Garth to fall in love with her either. He was licking her face in no time. He still shows her who’s boss and she has no problem standing up to him. I really wanted her to be a water baby and finding this pink pool was definitely the highlight of my Summer.
It was hot in July. I traded in my Swell bottle for a Hydroflask. We went to the Outer Banks for a few days. I’m pretty sure we were out of town every weekend this month. I really do miss living by the beach because the river is still unacceptable to me.
I went camping for the second time in my life to celebrate Andrea’s birthday! I saw a snake and didn’t die. I slept in a hammock and didn’t get eaten by a bear. We hiked about 4 miles, I broke a shoe that I borrowed, and ran into an old friend on the trail. I really discovered my love of nature vibes this past Summer. And I’m looking forward to camping more!! #EarthSign
I got a new job, the jury is still out on whether I like it or not. We went to NYC for one last hurrah before I started, shopping spree’d at Uniqlo, saw Jamiroquai perform in Queens, and attended an interactive tea exhibit called Room 4 Tea. Later in the month, we hit the Outer Banks for a wedding and there is something magical about a beach town in the off season.
We went camping in Virginia Beach for James’ birthday! Pebbles is a little nature angel. She loved sleeping in the tent and having the entire beach to herself. Camping is so fun, especially if you have friends who know how to cook a gourmet meal over a fire!
We went to D.C. to celebrate Lauren’s birthday. Pizza, karaoke room, botanical gardens, Indian food, and another spree at Uniqlo. Oh, and we stayed in a boujie Hilton! Nothing warms my heart like hanging with my best buds.
We saw the Puff Puff Pass tour here in Richmond. Too $hort, Warren G, Bone Thugs N’ Harmony, and Snoop Dogg headlined. I got this sweatshirt at the merch table and it was the only one that they brought! Every year, my holiday spirit wanes. I believe Christmas is for children. If I want things, I buy them. If I want things that I cannot afford, then I probably don’t need them. It’s hard for me not feel Grinchy especially when the holidays are really the only time we spend with our families. I love our family traditions but I just wish we could go on vacation during the holidays.
If you know me, you know Garth. When Lauren and I moved out of the dorms and into a house after our first year of college, it was top priority for us to adopt kittens. One sunny day in September of 2005, we went to McDonald’s and we went to the shelter. We saw these super cute kittens but they had already been adopted. The shelter told us to come back on Friday, they were going to have more kittens. We arrived at 12pm when they opened and the kittens that we had seen a few days before, were back! Lauren wanted the gray one and I wanted the boy. And that was that. Garth & Pigeon forever.
Garth was always a rascal. Escaping the house, eating loaves of bread, hunting mice around the house. He also had a sweet side. He mostly loved other cats and he really, really loved his Gypsy. They were so in love and they even matched! When he got diagnosed with diabetes in May of 2017, it felt like a death sentence. My vet suggested putting him down, but I could never. He was my dude. From the age of 19, he was the only constant and my source of happiness. I was committed to reversing his diagnosis; overhauled his diet, checking his blood sugar, and giving him insulin 2x a day. He had insatiable hunger which led us to locking our cabinets and keeping the trash can locked away. If you accidentally forgot to lock the cabinet or left a dish out, it was over. A side effect of the diabetes was peeing more than usual and he was peeing all over my damn house! We quarantined him to the kitchen and I laid pee pads everywhere. I was going through 100 pee pads a month. The last year or so was really hard. Finding him in the trash can or cleaning up pee next to fresh pee pads or the time that he left teethmarks in my new Instapot, my patience was wearing thin but he was still my guy. We celebrated Christmas and a few days later, he was acting strange. Very sweet but he wasn’t eating and that was abnormal behavior. When I took him to the vet, they found a large mass on his liver. My dude had liver cancer and I didn’t even know it. We said goodbye to Garth on December 28, just 351 days after we said goodbye to Gypsy. I miss them so much and I am so thankful for the years of joy they brought me. 2018 was a tough year, but I survived.