On October 5, my countdown began: 30 days until my 30th birthday. In honor of this, on each of the 30 days leading up to my birthday I will recount one memory from the past 30 years… either one that has helped define me, one that makes me laugh, one that makes me think, one that encourages me… or maybe a little of everything. If possible, I will post a photo to go along with the memory.
It’s my 30/30/30 Project: 30 years. 30 memories. 30 days.
Here is my memory for Day #2:
Sometimes, when you’re in the middle of a really happy moment, you instinctively know it will always serve as a wonderful memory. Like my memory from yesterday.
And while really happy moments are great to document in photos and words, sometimes difficult moments are important to document, too. Sometimes they create memories that are both wonderful and heart wrenching, and while it may hurt to remember them, these moments serve as important parts our lives.
Moments are funny like that.
Today’s memory comes from a moment a little over 3 years ago. It was June 2007 and my mom, my sister and I had recently founded our site, Pinks & Blues, which has since become Mom Generations. Another recent development in my life? My beloved dog, Bismarck, had been diagnosed with terminal gastrointestinal lymphoma.
I have talked about this period of my life often. But it’s not what I’m discussing today. Sure, the fact that he had cancer is part of it, but this memory is really about one day during that time of my life.
It was a gorgeous, sunny late Spring day, perfect weather for the Pinks & Blues photo shoot we had planned at the park near my parents’ home. Bismarck had been in and out of the hospital for the past several days. He had been poked with needles, he had had IVs in his veins, and he had had all kinds of tests done on him. We had a diagnosis, and while we knew our time with him was limited, the medication he was on had, for the most part, given him back his energy.
We wanted to take some photos of the three of us – me, Audrey and Mom – as well as photos with all the Pinks & Blues “kids” – Audrey’s 3 little guys (Henry wasn’t even a fetus yet!) and my 2 dogs, Ryder and Bismarck. We were all ready to head to the park when I saw that one of Bismark’s paws was swollen. I remember thinking, “Come on, the poor guy is going through enough. Why do this to his paw on top of everything?” I don’t know who my thoughts were directed towards; there were just a lot of “why?” moments around that time. I also remember calling the emergency vet, a place I had been on the phone with too often, asking if I should bring him in. I was hyper sensitive about any little change in his appearance or behavior. They told me to keep an eye on it and bring him in if it seemed to get any worse.
Since he was acting pretty normal, I decided to go with what the vet’s office said, and we were off to the park. It wasn’t a professional photo shoot; Audrey’s husband, Matt, happens to be a good photographer, so we had him take our photos, which we would be incorporating into the banner on our new blog.
When we were finished taking those pictures, I took the opportunity to pose for some photos with my babies. This is where that happy/sad memory dichotomy comes in.
When I look at this photo of Ryder, me and Bismarck from that day, I see myself surrounded by love and I see the happiness in my face. But I also see the bare marks on Bismarck’s front legs and chest where he had been shaved at the vet and stuck with needles and IVs. I remember being able to wrap my arms around both of my dogs, holding them close and feeling their fur against my skin. But I now have the knowledge that less than 2 months later, Bismark would be gone, and I would no longer be able to hug him close to me like that.
And yet, I am grateful for this day and the memories surrounding it, even though they are tinged with sadness. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to sit in the park with my dogs on a gorgeous, sunny late Spring day and photograph this moment for posterity.
It wasn’t a perfect moment; I knew my Bismarck was a very sick boy and I was grieving that fact. But when I look at this photo, I remember him running around the park with me, Ryder and my nephews that day. I see, and can remember, the little patch of grey that was starting to show on his chin and the white fur mark on his chest. I remember how much he loved his little sister, Ryder, and how much he loved me. These things make the memory of this day both wonderful and heart wrenching.
But these things are so very necessary to remember. And thanks to this photo, remember I always will.