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As 2011 Comes to a Close

December 31, 2011

One of the odd pockets of knowledge Wifey possessed when I first met her, when she was just a girl that I quickly realized I had to convince to marry me some day, was of the lines on the palms of my hands.  She would tell me all sorts of things about my life as they related to my head, heart and lifeline through the markings on my palm.  She knew these lines and their according meanings inside and out as if they were her own.  This is because my hands were her own.

If you placed our palms side by side, they were practically mirror images.  My hands were her hands, as her hands were mine.  The variations were minor, but not insignificant.  My hand bore a notable number of x marks, or tiny cross hatchings, that indicated a full life that was rich with numerous ups and downs.  According to my hands, my life is experienced in a series of peaks and valleys.

I always remember this when I hit a new high or low.  That there’s only so much in my life that isn’t predetermined by fate.  Or, my personality is fated to lead me to make choices that give me life experiences that constantly feel extreme.

While this year is arguably one of the best and most memorable in my life thus far, the grief and joy, the struggles and triumphs, have propelled me to opposite poles of the emotional spectrum.

At the lowest I will remember the first snowstorm of 2011 that came late in the year as the day my beloved dog died.  These two events weren’t related to one another other than he knew it was his time.  As I’ve read that animals often choose to die alone, my poochie went out into the storm to declare his final resting place under snow laden cedar hedges in our yard.  Wifey scooped up this 75lb dog in her arms and we rushed him to the vet.

I’ll never forget watching him take his final breath on the x-ray table, while the vet rambled trying to prepare us for the inevitable, only the dog got to the final punctuation before she did.  I sobbed and screamed while my Wifey tried to comfort me because he was more than a dog to me.  He was my best friend.

We left the vet that stormy day brokenhearted and had to return a week later to pick up his ashes.  I had gone through the worst of my grief during those early days, and it wasn’t until Wifey picked up the box containing all that was left of our dog, that she was able to begin to grieve.

We sat in the driveway for over an hour crying while Wifey pet the box of ashes telling our beloved Gus that he was such a good dog.  When we finally got the box into the house, it stayed in our bed for two nights before we could open it, and then the urn sat on our bedroom dresser for a good week.  We talked to that urn as if it was our real live dog.  Our kids tiptoed around us and thought we were crazy.

Though that deep, soul wrenching, and intense grief was difficult, there was something inarticulately beautiful about sharing it with my Wifey.  This was the first time in our eight years together that we had gone through such a tremendous loss that each of us simultaneously experienced as deeply on every inch of our flesh.  It left us both vulnerable.  Yet grateful and more cognizant of how precious we are to one another.

At its highest point, 2011 brought us our third child.  While she was expected and her conception very planned, we never could have imagined the joy that the Doodle would bring to our entire family.

The Doodle arrived earlier than expected weighing 6lbs11oz after a quick 7.5 hour labour.  I got the pregnancy and home birth experience that I wanted.  I was heavy in labour before I realized I was really in labour, and was ready to push way before my midwife was ready for me to push as we waited for backup to arrive.  It wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t the hardest thing I’ve done in my life.

The Doodle has been a breath of fresh air for the family.  It’s like spring arrives every day in the household.  The joy she brings is infectious.  She’s given each of us something different, something that we each needed, and something that we didn’t know was missing until she arrived.

Adding a baby to the family mix could have gone either way.  It could have been completely destabilizing or entirely binding.  I’m so glad it’s going the way that it is.

I never grow tired of watching the three kids together.  I love watching how the two older ones dote on their baby sister and engage her in their own unique ways.  I love watching how the Doodle searches for them in a room and how she lights up when she see them.

As parents, the Doodle has regrounded us to a role of physically present parenting that I think can slide with teens, and a presence of play and fun that our teens so desperately need but would never even know to ask for.  We all get to be kids when we are with the Doodle.  Family time in and fun doesn’t seem nearly so lame when you’re doing it for the baby or doing anything to make her laugh.

Throughout the year have been moments of pure bliss and simple happiness interspersed with stumbles and falls. We can spin through so much in a week that at times I don’t know up from down.  I curse those marks on my hands on those weeks, and if things stay a little too still for a little too long, I am grateful for the assuredness that those markings will inevitably make my life interesting in some unanticipated way.

I am thankful and humbled by the life I lead.  I wouldn’t change any of it.  Not the good parts nor the bad bits.  Not one bit.  2011 was a well lived year.

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