Goodbye Jasmine


It’s been two weeks since Jasmine left us for that rainbow bridge in the sky, her haggard body barely hanging on until the new year. At almost 14, she’d had a life of chasing 10,000 squirrels. And, she’d tracked my youngest child in age by six months. Those two had a dog’s lifetime of adventures together, playing in the grass and along the creek’s edge. Jasmine had been there for all of life’s moments, both good and bad. A copperhead bite to the face, several snowstorms, a couple of hurricanes, vacations that required her to stay behind… all were endured patiently and without complaint. After we’d been away for any amount of time, she was always standing in the driveway as our Suburban rolled up. She heard the truck, its blum, blum, blum, advancing down the drive and over the bridge. Her ears would perk stiff and she’d do a little dance, chasing her tail in circles which showed us she was terribly glad we’d decided to return once again.

This is a hard post to write. Tears still fill my eyes as I look at the box labeled Pets in Peace where her body lies in ashes. It’s a heavy box, that box that has all of her except that vivacious energy and never ending desire for a vigorous belly rub. But, tonight everyone is coming to the house for a little Jasmine tribute. I have to be strong.

How do I say goodbye to such a devoted and cherished family member? To that sweet pup whose sole goal in life was just to be with us. It’s too fresh and these memories are too tied up with my family.

Cherishing these memories will have to suffice. Remembering her many encounters with the wildlife around here — dragging in numerous deer parts, chasing chickens, scratching chipmunk holes ’til her nose was clay-stained and brown, pointing up at possums — will have to do. Recounting her encounters with neighbors’ trash cans on Tuesdays, spilling everything for a juicy sandwich wrapper or smuggling a donut from who knows where… that will have to be enough. Thumbing through these pictures… will help me not to forget how important she is to us.

I don’t want to forget.

She struggled her last four weeks of life. Her breed of Border Collie /Austrialian Shepherd made her a ball of boundless energy; however, since Thanksgiving, she’d been mostly on her bed. It was a challenge for her to eat and drink. She wasn’t chasing squirrels anymore. I was determined to “ride it out” with her and hoped we’d be with her for her last breath. But, alas, she decided that a warm afternoon in early January was as good as any to take a nap on a lush bed of ivy right out front. As was fitting, Gabe, now 14, found her, peaceful and stiff, no longer encumbered by the decay of this world. He was with her at the beginning, the day we brought her home from the shelter and at the end as we patted her still body on its ivy bier.

Yes. This is a difficult post to write. But it must be done. To remember and to let it go.

God, out of love for us, gives us pets. They keep us company, forgive us when we ignore them, and offer unconditional love. Jasmine was that for us and we are grateful.

Jasmine, always down for a hug

30 Word Associations for March 30

Slice of Life 2020: Day 30

  • morning prayer with incense
  • cooking dinner for the 30th consecutive day
  • schooling outside today
  • dinner at home again with the fam
  • Peeling potatoes & chopping onions
  • vegetable broth
  • dueling laptops
  • pollen on my pillow
  • hydrate or die-drate
  • chicken poop
  • we got no bananas
  • holy oil on our door post
  • write it down on the grocery list
  • did you wash your hands?
  • Face Book is a rant fest now
  • did you practice your instrument?
  • Is today a wine day?
  • growth mindset
  • neighbors talking on the curb
  • a little tennis in the driveway
  • are ya’ll doing okay?
  • let’s go for a walk
  • you’re going to tell your kids about this one day
  • Bob Marley Playlist on Spotify
  • truck’s still in the garage
  • the AP exam is still on
  • We’d better cancel that subscription
  • have you checked on your mom today?
  • evening prayer with incense

Scratch Scratch Scratch

Slice of Life 2020: Day 15

Scratch, scratch, scratch.

That is the sound my pencil made Thursday as I crossed out every single event on my calendar. The SAT exam my junior had been prepping for, gone. Dinner out with my daughter and her fiance, gone. Yoga Saturday at 10 am, gone. Church on Sunday, gone. Going to work next week, gone. Groceries at the grocery store, gone!

On Thursday everything changed.

I changed.

I had to stop and catch my breath, say a prayer and calm down. There were too many news reports, too many questions and there was too much uncertainty.

My oldest kids were the most stressed. They were quite aware of what this all meant. Questions came up like: Will I be able to get a job? Will I have to go back to school? What if granddad gets this? Can you and dad survive because ya’ll are old?

All six of us ate dinner and talked as it rained outside. We talked about the Corona virus, social distancing, and cancellations. My husband and I tried to help everyone calm down, but we ourselves were overwhelmed with what lay ahead. We had questions like: Will the economy continue to spiral downward? What if we all get this at the same time? Will our parents be okay? Can we all live in this house forever?

Eventually we lightened up and shared stories of things we’d seen like empty toilet paper shelves. That helped. Stupid jokes were told. That helped too.

Being together was what we needed.

After supper and cleanup, my grown daughter placed a cool face mask over my aging skin. Ah! That was the most wonderful experience after an excruciatingly stressful week. I knew then that being together, we would get through this.

I took a couple of days off from slicing to get grounded again. I needed to focus on prayer and my family for a couple of days. These big kids needed to see that they are strong and can face life’s challenges with the firm conviction that God is in control.

Now, we go forward one day at a time.

The Blessing of the Playground

Slice of Life 2020: Day 7

My son’s Eagle project was to build a community playground at our church. In February, during the coldest, wettest days of winter, they prepped the pliable earth, laid mulch and constructed a play structure. Six months of planning went into the project including raising all the money to pay for the playground equipment and applying for a permit from the city to build it.

It was a glorious, sunny day when the playground was finally finished. All the parish children were waiting eagerly to jump onto the structure. Parents were holding their breath.

“Wait until its blessed,” was the whisper of many a dad as we awaited our priest to say the blessing.

Hunter, who built the play structure with his band of scout brothers, served Father Paul for the blessing. Gratitude and accomplishment blazed on his face like a thousand Christmas lights strung on a Douglas Fir.

Hunter followed Father Paul around the structure holding the holy water, feeling the splash of blessed joy at this moment.

Pinch me! This momma was beaming ear to ear.

As soon as the blessing was complete, the kids pounced on their new play set! Just one week ago, nothing was on this property but crab grass and mud! Today, kids were swinging and climbing and parents had a few minutes breathing time for conversation with friends. The blessing of the playground was the perfect culmination for this teenager’s hard work and determination!

Wedding Planning

Slice of Life 2020: Day 5

The church is the first thing to book when you’re planning an Orthodox wedding. You’ve got to make sure the priest and the building are available on your special day. Otherwise you change your special day!

Recently, we toured the church where my daughter will marry in the fall. We’ve been in this beautiful place many times. But today, it felt different. I always knew this day would come and here we were.

I am so grateful to be a part of this wedding planning process and to still experience these “firsts” with my daughter.

We viewed the nave, the narthex, and all around the building. Then, we toured the reception hall. Regina surveyed the room, then approached the windows. I could tell she was imagining what her wedding celebration would be like in this hall. Perhaps she was hearing the band play and seeing glasses toast to her and Ian’s happy future.

We’re just at the beginning of this process. There’s a reception to plan, food to figure out, a guest list to make, a wedding gown to buy… It’s a whirlwind and I so glad to be a part of all the excitement!

Holy Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church