Blogging Friends.... It is two weeks from Christmas!! And I have some holiday-themed queries to ask. Every year, Santa Claus writes a "Naughty & Nice" list. Behavior-wise, I have made some cosmic positive life changes in 2012 alone. But I still falter. Does that earn my name on Santa Claus' "Nice" list.... Or "Naughty"? How does Saint Nick feel about a "work in progress" like me who is obviously still "in transition"? Truly others can relate!!
Grief is an interesting concept. It's weird. Grief is unique, depending on the individual walking that path. Some people are emotional to the extreme. And that is okay. Others are seemingly strong. And that is okay, too. In my experience, once you think grief has passed, every feeling and every emotion resurfaces itself. As though progress was never even made. I always think about and miss Shadow Sunshine, my Beautifully Unique "blond" furred German Shepherd/Golden Retriever cross, at Christmastime. She was euthanized on June 15th, 2010. I have an entire decade's worth of Christmas memories spent with Shadow. Of filling her stocking. Of purchasing treats and dog toys. Of celebrating December 25th with my mutt. I recall as though it was yesterday our final Christmas together. Shadow had been showing inevitable signs of aging: Deafness, stiff joints, senile behavior. I somehow knew within my heart that this would be our last. I could feel it. So I made our final Christmas count. Every moment of it. And boy, did I create a lasting Christmas memory!! It is one that will remain within my psych forever. Shadow no longer played.... Spending money on tennis balls seemed irrelevant somehow. Instead, I filled her stocking with treats, treats, treats and more treats. Nothing else. Because, although Shadow was never a "food-lovin'" girl like Rose, throughout her final years, she loved treats. If memory serves me, I purchased pizza-flavored Canine Carry Outs, Snawsomes twists, and salmon Yummy Chummies. It turned out, that my "maternal" intuition was correct. Less than six months later, Shadow died. We would never enjoy another December 25th together again. And, during Christmas of 2010, three months after adopting Rose, I was still struggling with grief. Still. It came upon me suddenly, like an ambush during some far-away war. 2010 was already a Christmas of firsts. Colossal firsts. My oldest brother no longer lived with us. For he married his lovely bride in May. It was my first Christmas with Rose. It was my first Christmas sans Shadow. I bought Rose a fuzzy red and white Christmas stocking. I purchased her gifts. Yet somehow, the memory of Shadow's last Christmas haunted me that year. I missed her so much!! It felt selfish and wrong somehow to be experiencing such a palpable longing for Shadow.... When I have Rose!! But, nonetheless, there were tears, sorrow, and heartache. One Saturday, we drove downtown to do some Christmas shopping. I was feeling really depressed. I wept in an antique shop while looking at merchandise. Wept. And, although I tried to hold those tears within me, they flowed anyway. My eyes were "leaky". For lunch, we ate fast-food at Jack-In-The-Box. I ordered my usual favorite. The Ultimate Cheeseburger--minus ketchup and mustard--plus onion rings. While awaiting our meal, I walked toward a restroom to compose myself. I then stared in their mirror and attempted bravery. I'll be okay. I'll be okay. I'll be okay. Later that day, we discovered this quaint little store. It was decorated for Christmas. Everything looked so lovely!! On display, there was this small artificial tree. So festive!! Hanging on its branches were various glass dog breed ornaments. Naturally, I felt drawn to the Golden Retriever, which is "half" of Shadow. No. I thought. Move on. Time to move on.... Be in the "now". Walk away from that tree!! Walk away I did. Then suddenly, I felt God softly whisper in my ear. He said: Go back. Go back. Look for the Beagle. I walked over to that artificial Christmas tree once more. And.... There it was!! A glass, glittery brown, black and white Beagle!! Oh, "she" is absolutely flawless!! The ornament may as well have been custom-made!! Black on its back, a white chest, this adorable brown-colored furrowed forehead.... Just like Rose!! I purchased the ornament. How could I resist? Its tag read: Beagle: Dogs selflessly give humans their unconditional love and loyalty. Beagles are one of the most popular scent hounds because of their energy, willingness to work and sweet dispositions. They make great family pets and truly enjoy their status as "man's best friend." Wow. Minus the "energy (and) willingness to work" part, that describes Rose spot-on!! Loyal. A sweet disposition. Loving. I will treasure forever that sparkly glass Beagle ornament. Because one glance at it reminds me of so much. That first Christmas without Shadow. My emotional meltdown. Healing. Plus everything that Rose blesses me with!! She is an incredible one-of-a-kind, friend to me!! My four-legged "kindred spirit". Rose is different, like me. She's amiable, submissive, and easy to train. Sneaky, strong-willed, plus sometimes naughty. I love it all!! She is Beautifully Unique!!