Thursday, February 28, 2019

Sunshine to my Heart

In the midst of my sadness over our sweet little dog who died this week, I had a huge dose of heart medicine this afternoon.

Do you know one of my greatest joys? Walking up two flights of stairs in Ostrava, all the while hearing little giggly voices calling out, "Nonnie!" through the staircase, and then being greeted by these sweet people!

Aw, the joy of grandchildren!!

"Do you want to play with me?", Judah says after I've only been there for a little bit.

OF COURSE I DO! And we set out on a "dinner party" that lasted for a very long time!

There's nothing I love more than imaginative play, and these boys are getting so good at it!

Judah prepared a feast for me, over and over and over again, offering me such delicacies as bacon and eggs, fish and lemon, with a side of potatoes, broccoli, pears and grapes. Oh and he's pretty good at whipping up some pretend lemonade too!

Lara made a wonderful real dinner for us and I enjoyed sitting at their table, soaking in child humor and joy.

After dinner it was back to our table and more cooking. We whipped up some pretty good banana bread in our pretend oven!

It is another mercy from the Lord that these precious ones live nearby, and that they could be balm for my grieving heart tonight. It's not hard to be lifted out of sadness when you see these cute faces gazing up at you.

When Lara asked Judah who he wanted to pray for tonight as we put them to bed, he said without hesitation, "Kaylee", and then asked me to pray. It was easy to thank the Lord for her, and for these boys who brought sunshine to my heart tonight when I needed it most.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Father's Heart

Coming home last night, after saying goodbye at the vet to our precious dog, Kaylee, was so hard.

I couldn't go in the house for a while so just sat on our swing outside, remembering all the sweet moments I've had out here with her, at all times of day and in all sorts of weather.

The grief was just as strong this morning when I woke up. I missed her morning greeting, her "trip trap" down the stairs, and opening the door for her to go outside. These have been part of the morning routines of our life with her for the past 7 1/2 years.

It was equally hard to see places in the house that reminded me of her basket of toys.

How many hours I sat on that hearth after she's poked her head in, nudging them out of the basket?! This never failed to get me to sit there, throwing one after another for her while she wildly chased after them.

But do you know what the Lord did for me this morning? He led me through the house, to place after place, speaking quietly to my soul and reminding me of the lessons I'd learned from Kaylee, of the sweet moments with her, and that she had been well loved by us.

What a merciful gift to me in my grief.

One of the most profound things I realized was how beautifully she represented the Father's heart to me.

Ever loving, never complaining, patient with me, giving grace after grace each time I left her and returned home. She happily and joyfully greeted me each time as if I had never left.

She was the Father's loving heart for me every day! No matter if I was home or not...she was loving me. I could go to the "far side of the sea", but I couldn't go away from her love...she showed that every time I returned!

I am beyond overwhelmed by my Father's extravagant love, displayed in my little Kaylee for all these years, when I didn't even comprehend it. Only in death did I comprehend. And it was only in HIS death, that made that kind of love possible.

Just as I had finished my walk through the house with the Lord, Claire sent me a text asking if she could stop by to bring me something. A few minutes later she walked through the door, bringing those flowers.

"I thought you needed these this morning, Mom, to remind you of our Kaylee, who was a bright spot in our lives."

It couldn't have been a more perfect punctuation moment from the Lord -- !!!!!  He was saying to my heart, "When you think of her, especially in sadness, press into me, and remember that I sent you my love in a little furry coat for 7 1/2 years, as a visible reminder that I love you...when you think of her, remember that I am STILL loving you!"

What a good, good Father He is, loving me, loving you, in so many ways that we're often unaware of. But I now know that whenever I think of Kaylee, I'll remember that she was sent on assignment to be a display of my Father's love and heart for me. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Goodbye Sweet Kaylee

I write this with tears streaming down my face. Our precious Kaylee girl is gone.

When I woke this morning and saw her, I knew that she was not going to recover. The sickness she's been battling since October has taken its toll on her body, despite every measure on ours and the vet's part to save her.

Sweet, loving and dear till the end, Claire and I took her to the vet one last time as her breath became shallower with each minute.

The vet confirmed that her body was shutting down, and that it was time to ease her pain.

The sorrow in my heart is so very deep tonight. I feel empty, like that square outside of the vet's office after we said our goodbyes to our sweet little pup. Claire and I sat there for more than an hour, sobbing in her car as we wept for the passing of our dear Kaylee.

Words just can't express how deeply she was woven into our hearts. I recognize that not everyone feels that deeply about their pets, but for us, Kaylee was a part of our family -- a loving, giving, darling part, who made our lives happier and richer for 7 1/2 years.

While sitting there grieving, Caleb sent me this photo, which I hadn't known he'd taken when we had FaceTimed earlier in the day so that he, Haley and Charlie could say goodbye to Kaylee.

Seeing my hand there on her brings more tears, but also reminds me of how dear she was right until the end.

When Kaylee first got sick in October, I prayed that she would make it until Christmas, so that she could be there when all her "kids" with their kids came home for the holidays. She made it through that time, and was such a sweetheart with all the boys during their week here. I'm so glad they knew her.

My next prayer was that she'd make it through JV Winter Academy, during the week when I was taking care of the boys. And she made it through that week too, making us laugh and giving of herself as they loved on her with lots of hugs and cuddles!

My last prayer for her, as it turned out to be, was that she would make it until we got home from the States. I really couldn't bear the thought of her passing without me here. I will be forever grateful to the Lord for hearing my cry and answering mercifully. I did make it home, and I had two precious days with Kaylee before saying goodbye.

My heart and emotions are very raw tonight. I miss her profoundly.

She was my last "baby", the one who saw me through when my last human baby, Claire, left for college. Kaylee helped me transition into "empty nest". She was my constant companion, the one who taught me about unconditional love, and who welcomed me home again and again with her affection and delight, each time I had to travel throughout these years.

Tears roll down my cheeks and I ache with grief tonight. I am trying to remember all the happy days with her, like frisky walks in the sunshine where she trotted beside me, happy to be our dog.

But in all honesty, it's hard to let her go. I loved this little furry girl with all my heart, and I'm deeply sad that she is not here in our home anymore.

Pray for me, that God will bring the comfort that I know He will. I just need those prayers.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Sick Pup

After lots of snuggling and just being with my little furry girl for hours yesterday, this morning we headed back to the vet for another check-up.

He could see that she still was not doing well, so decided to put a little port into her paw and give her medication, hydration and minerals through an IV.

In this surreal moment of fighting for our dog's life, Claire and I sat together in the little hospital room at this vet, talking quietly about her and wondering what would happen next.

This dear man, the vet who has been watching over her since she first got sick in October, is the kindest and most compassionate vet I've ever met. He speaks so gently to her, and does everything in a measured manner so as not to alarm her (or us) as he goes about doing all he can for Kaylee.

After finishing the IV, he said we could take Kaylee home for the rest of the day, but that she needed to come back at 6 PM for another infusion.

I could hardly do anything in those in-between hours except just sit with her on the couch and give my presence to her. She was very quiet, not wanting to go outside.

Soon dusk came and it was time to return to the vet again.

A different vet was on duty this evening, but was equally kind and compassionate towards Kaylee. You love that people of mercy go into these kinds of professions, because when you bring a sick pet, you want to be met with that kind of tender spirit.

After yet another infusion, the vet had me bring her into his office to talk about what to watch for in the night. And to say that he wanted to see her again the next day.

We agreed that I'd return with her at 2 tomorrow. The hope is that she will have responded to the medication and hydration she received today, and begin to recover from whatever this illness is that's afflicting her.

This evening she is SO very quiet. After not having gone out at all since getting home from the vet, I helped her outside, only to have her just lay down on our patio. It's so hard to see her like this.

It's after midnight now, and I'm just not able to go to sleep with her not doing well.

How my heart is hurting tonight for my sweet little girl.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Not Well

Dave and I returned from the States last night and as usual, I was greeted with kisses from my sweet Kaylee girl, even though it was 2 in the morning.

But all is not well with this precious little one who so has my heart.

Claire contacted me in the States last Wednesday to say that Kaylee wasn't doing well. She took her into the vet here in Czech, and ended up being there for four hours while he ran blood tests and did an ultrasound, and other checks on her seemingly hurting body.

I spent today just cuddling with her on the couch while we wait for another vet appointment tomorrow. She is so "low" these days, spending more time than usual sleeping deeply, not wanting to go outside at all.

Though I made her come out this afternoon just so I could get a few pictures of her sweet face.

My heart is breaking a little bit, seeing her not be her usual peppy self, to say the least. She is still as sweet and giving as ever, but I can tell she doesn't feel well. Having just turned eight years old in January, it seems young for her to be having so many kinds of problems.

How I love this sweet little pup.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Well Loved

Waking up in my mom and dad's home this morning was so precious. Smelling the coffee that my dad had made, and my favorite Jimmy Dean sausage from my mom...those are the best kinds of memories to hold on to.

Yesterday I brought flowers to my mom for her birthday, which is in a few weeks. And today I gave her a scarf that I'd bought last summer in Croatia and saved for her spring birthday! She looks so pretty in it, even sitting here in her familiar place at their kitchen table!

My dad came into the kitchen a few minutes later and I captured this sweet one of them.

Which then led to me saying, "Dave, can you come outside and take some pictures of us?!"

Though it wasn't a sunny day here in Eugene, Oregon, there was sunshine in my soul, seeing my parents together, still loving each other so very well after 58 years of marriage!

I'm so thankful we could come to see them at the end of this stateside trip, and capture photos together that keep the sunshine in my soul when we're apart...they are such wonderful parents!

"Love you so much Dad and Mom! Thanks for loving me so well, and for loving each other so well too. You are a tremendous example to me in your marriage, and in your lives of loving people well, which thankfully includes me!"

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Going Home

We're off to my hometown today!

Born in Eugene, Oregon a few moons ago (haha 🤣), I lived there until I was 12 years old. A change of position in the company my dad was working for led us to move north to Vancouver, Washington. Over the next twenty years my parents lived in a number of different homes in Washington, including a move up to Seattle for a few years.

But we always said we were Oregonians!

So when they moved back to Eugene in 1994, we all felt like we'd gone home. Even though I had a family of my own by then, and was living in Czech, there was a sense of rootedness knowing they'd gone back to the town of my brother's, my mom's and my births!

Whenever I make the familiar drive into Eugene (in this case, through Junction City where my parents used to take our kids to the DQ when they were little!) it's always with a tender sigh of relief.

Because then I'm "home"!

Of course "home" is not a place, since I've never lived in this home with them. But it's home because of these people. My dad, brother, below!

And of course because of my mom too!

She fixed us an amazing lunch to come home to - shrimp salad with all the extras!

How good to sit around this familiar table with my family.

I remember when my dad had that table delivered on a Valentine's Day years ago, when I was probably 6 or 7 years old! He always was, and still is, a big romantic when it comes to my mom. He adores here!

And so do we!

It's not often that I can go out and buy flowers for my mom, so I loved being able to do that today - and give them as an early birthday present to her!

This evening she and my brother cooked up another wonderful meal - a Thanksgiving dinner! It's one of my favorites because it reminds me of spending that holiday at my grandma and grandpa France's house here in Eugene, especially with the smell of the dressing that my grandpa always made, wafting out from the kitchen!

My mom's smells like his, but tastes even better than what I remember as a child.

I love the touches in my mom and dad's home that are connections to ours in Czech. The Polish pottery and Czech porcelain pieces, as well as a painting from an artist just up the road from us!

And nothing says home like my mom's gluten free carrot cake - taste tested earlier by my dad! She baked it just because she knows it's my favorite. Thanks Mom!

It was the perfect end to a great day, catching up and just enjoying being with my family.