The Great Benny Dog Search

Sometimes you just need a girls night out. And when you have a friend with a daughter that you and your daughter love equally, sometimes you need a girls overnight in Newport. At a fancy hotel. So you can relax and just decompress with your bestie and revel in some good old fashioned girl time!

This is exactly what we did last week. After the last year of remote learning and following all of the Covid guidelines, it felt good to celebrate our vaccinations with a trip! We had so much fun relaxing by the pool, riding bikes and eating out. My soul just needed the break.

Now that I felt recharged and zen, it was no surprise when Darcy came up to me at 10 PM the night we got home to tell me that her Benny Dog was missing. She couldn’t remember if she had packed him or accidentally left him in the room. She tore apart her bag and I looked through mine with no luck. At this point my husband and I started to panic.

You see Benny Dog isn’t just any old stuffed animal. When our Benny died people set up a memorial on the street and dropped off loads of flowers and stuffed animals. People who were complete strangers to us. The day before his services we decided that we’d have the kids each choose a stuffed animal or ‘Benny Bear’ to take home with them.

Darcy chose a chihuahua looking dog who became known as Benny Dog. There were stuffed bears there the size of her and surprisingly she chose this tiny, unassuming little dog. We have no idea where he came from or who gave him to our family, but Benny Dog became Darcy’s lovie. A complete stranger had given Darcy some comfort at the hardest moment in her life. Benny Dog has been to every sleep over, vacation and adventure we have had in the subsequent 7+ years.

I calmly called the hotel and was told to call back in the morning. So at 9 AM the next morning I called and was told to email housekeeping. I sent a pleading email, hoping someone would look for Benny Dog. I heard nothing. I really began to panic 48 hours after checkout. How could they not have found this little guy yet? My husband was ready to drive to the hotel and look. Darcy was eerily calm through all of this. I think because she knew I was not going to let this go until her Benny Dog was found.

I called and finally talked to housekeeping and was told they would call the linen company and check the room. They had nothing in lost and found. I just kept hoping that he would show up. Meanwhile, my bestie was chatting with a friend about our trip and let’s just say this lady has connections! All of a sudden the Great Benny Dog Search of 2021 commenced at said hotel! There were meetings with department heads and this little 8 inch pooch became a priority.

Within 3 hours I had a phonecall from housekeeping! A very thorough search of our room found him wedged/crammed between the nightstand and the wall. He probably would have lived the rest of his days there until they changed out the furniture had they not looked. I cried in relief that he was coming home via FedEx.

Once again, a complete stranger had saved us. I’ve never met the woman who put the Great Benny Dog Search into motion, but I am humbled by her understanding of our loss and her willingness to go right to the top to make sure that he was found. She saved my family from another huge loss and poor Benny Dog from years of being crammed between a wall and a nightstand. Thank you. ❤️

Our ‘ Best’

I’m not even sure I’m doing my ‘mediumest’ right now. After Benny died, it was all I could do to breathe and exist. It has been so hard to feel like this again. I’m trying with all of my might to hold all of the pieces together tightly.

So I will take whatever I can get out of myself right now, day in and day out. This last week has all but gutted me. And I know that I am not alone in this. Sometimes there is just too much going on and all you can do is ‘try your best.’

I’m going to start by trying for my ‘lowest’ and hopefully work my way up from there.

The Stockings Are Hung

Every year we hang Benny’s stocking for Christmas. And every year we each write him a letter, draw him a picture, etc. To include him in our Christmas.

Sometimes it happens on Christmas Eve, some years on Christmas day. Sometimes it happens as we take the stockings down for the year and that’s ok. It’s our way of including our little guy.

As I was pulling out the notes to look this year, my heart hurt. It’s crazy to think that there are so many letters. Long ones, short ones, scribbles and everything in between. I found mine from 2013 and I don’t think I’m ready to go there yet. Maybe one day.

It’s been a long road. And it keeps going. Sometimes it’s windy and bumpy, other times it’s straight and I know where I’m headed (or at least I think I do). Sometimes it feels like a very lonely road and other times I am surrounded by so many others. But it’s my road and I know I will walk it until my last breath.

Finding A Light

I have been struggling. The winter is so damn hard for me sometimes. The monotonous days stuck indoors are really hard. As much as I love my children and I love working with my husband, it can all just seem repetitious.

I am desperate to feel the sun on my face and spend hours outside. I want to feel grass beneath my toes and watch green leaves sway in a lazy Summer breeze.

At the same time, I love snow, I love skiing, I love sledding. But I don’t love the darkness and the cold. And it gets to me. I can feel myself sliding, moving backwards. I’m more tired, I’m more irritable. I’m way less motivated to do anything. And once I get into this slump, it’s very hard to ‘unslump’ myself.

There’s all this talk about, ‘being your own light,’ which is great and all, but what if you can’t be? What if what you’re going through is really hitting you hard and you can’t find a way back out? There’s a lot of pressure to fix yourself, by yourself.

This last month has felt this way to me. Just a lot of stuff weighing heavily and I know that the endless winter weather doesn’t help.

I hate the feeling of sinking. I know when it’s happening and sometimes I welcome it for the break that it is. Sometimes I just need to zone out (as best as you can with 3 kids) so I can try and process whatever this new grief slap is so that I can get through it. Sometimes I get stuck. Sometimes I just can’t find my light.

This time I recognized it for what it is. I am feeling stuck. I am feeling sad. I can’t turn my own light on right now. And that’s ok. I didn’t try to fight with myself or self deprecate. I knew I needed something.

Sometimes you need to borrow a little light from someone else. And I’m ok with that. I can’t be everything to everyone without needing a little help myself every once in awhile.

I’m ok with borrowing some light while I take the time to make mine bright again. The one thing grief isn’t is consistent. You can be fine and then all of a sudden something comes along to knock the wind out of your sails. For me it’s been several something’s.

So I’m ‘unslumping’ with a puppy, something I swore up and down that I would never, ever do. We’ve always rescued the big dogs that no one else wants. But sometimes you have to go outside of what you would normally do. If death has taught me anything, it’s certainly to take chances or do something I wouldn’t normally do.

Meet Dutch

Sometimes ‘unslumping’ means getting out of your normal routine. Sometimes it means go for a walk, get outside. Or maybe treat yourself to an ice cream or a haircut. There’s nothing better than when I feel good on the outside how it helps me feel a little bit better or the inside. Or, go get a puppy. You only have one life, do what you want to make it a little bit better.

#thisischildloss

Class of 2033

I was invited to a Facebook group tonight for when my son enters Kindergarten this Fall. My head nearly exploded when I read that he would be graduating high school in 2033. As in, 13 years from now. As in, I will be 53 years old. Even better, I now know that I will be 55 when my youngest graduates.

And to some, that probably isn’t even that old. It isn’t in the grand scheme of things, it’s just not what I planned for me. It’s just that little reminder how off kilter things went.

We had Darcy when we were 28 and Benny at 32. I wanted to be a younger mom. Not because it was this great life plan, but because my mom had me when she was 33. And she died when she was 49. I wanted my kids when I was younger because I wanted them to have as much time as possible with us. I was so constantly concerned about something happening to one of us.

How disgustingly ironic my life became those 7 years ago. I was so worried about something happening to us because I never thought that anything could ever happen to one of my children. None of us do until it happens.

So here I am again, in a bitter twist of fate freaking out at how old we will be come graduation time in 13 years. So much can happen between now and then. So much can change. And it freaks me out. My mother wasn’t at my graduation. Or my wedding. She wasn’t there when her grandbabies were born.

I know that I’m very lucky to have my rainbows. I just need a moment to catch my breath and scream at the Universe. This anger has caught me by surprise because it’s been a long time since I’ve felt this way over everything. The need for control is rearing it’s ugly head again and I just need to shake my fists a bit to release this energy building up inside.

#thisischildloss

Denying Myself

How many of us do this daily? We walk around with a smile on our faces while in reality all that we really want to do is cry. Because we are dying on the inside missing the hell out of our loved ones.

Look, people mean well. They want you to feel better, they want you to move on. Even those closest to you. They want you to be happy. How much of our happiness is derived from someone else’s needs?

I have children, so my grief sits somewhere in a back corner. When my son died my daughter didn’t want us to sit around crying. We did, everyone did for the first few weeks and then slowly it became less and less. I still cry, in the shower, in the car, putting the toddler to bed, in the pantry. My lovely private places.

Why the hell can’t I show this to my kiddos? I have no problem showing them anger, happiness, why not show them sadness? Why not show them that grief can be handled healthily? Why do we hide our sadness?

I’m legit asking. I wish I could explain why vulnerability is bad. I wish I could understand when I was taught this concept. Maybe it’s a coping mechanism I’ve picked up. Who knows?

One of the only places that I can be my true grieving self in at my grief groups. I can be real with my anger and sadness over my son’s death. And it’s ok. It’s my ‘Benny time.’ And I look forward to it all month because it’s like offloading so much that has been stuffed down deep inside.

And here obviously. Here I am still in my protective bubble. And I know that most anyone reading this gets it. And even if they don’t, they can empathize. Because wearing this mask is exhausting sometimes.

#thisischildloss