We have a visitor for a few months. Her name is Breea. (Yes, that’s Breea with two ees.) She has very curly hair and prefers my side of the bed, probably because I’m shorter than the other guy so there’s more room. She claims the lap of my hubby on the couch and has confused the other two canines in the house. Who does this princess think she is? (Exactly!) But being Golden Retrievers, their gentle protest manifests itself in lying down, then sleeping. The occasional stealth of Breea’s squeaky toy. The home situation is quite calm, even with three.
Breea is very sweet and very confused. Her family is separated for awhile while Dad is getting a bone marrow transplant at Stanford. Mom is with Dad. The four kids spend half the week with friends getting home-schooled and half the week with Grandpa and Grandma who live across the street from us. Breea gets to see her kids occasionally and doesn’t quite understand why they keep leaving without her. She’ll get used to it over time and before she knows it, everyone will be together again.
A decision to leave
It’s one of the very hard things about leaving home for medical treatment for a disease that will just as soon kill you if you stand around waiting. We are not talking about an appendectomy here, although I suppose a busted appendix can kill you too. As a patient, you absolutely want to be in the best place possible and of course, one covered by your insurance. This may be your one shot at a future so that may mean temporarily leaving home. It’s a very hard decision to leave the place that offers you a different – but very real – type of healing. But this is what many people face each day. Once the critical decision is made as to where one will seek treatment, scores more arrive: job details, health insurance approvals, a place to live near the medical center, kids cared for (school! sports! piano lessons!) the yard, the utilities, paper delivery and fridge emptying, packing, cleaning, and all the myriad details of leaving home for an extended period of time.
Finally, you get to one more emotional decision. The pets. Your four-footed pals. They are family, too. What shall you do? This is where I cracked up for a wee bit when facing my own marrow transplant far from home. Who will care for our three pets that we love? I need to emphasize this more. We love our pets a whole lot than some people love their children. (Don’t judge. It’s just who we are. And our pets do not travel to the mall in purses because they are not accessories. They are friends, confidants, exercise buddies, therapists, medicine, comedy and more.)
Our pet care was more complicated than sweet Breea. We had big Bodie, the 105-pound Labrador with a commanding bass bark (think James Earl Jones) that could scare even He Who Must Not Be Named Voldemort . The neighbors alternately loved him and reprimanded him for barking so loudly. A quick “Bodie! SHUT UP!” was generally successful. Bodie could easily pull your shoulder out on a walk should another dog on leash be out for a leisurely stroll nearby. Bodie also periodically ate large chunks of our house. You can see how getting someone to care for Bodie might have been challenging.
Lucy, another Golden Retriever sweetheart , was gently neurotic. Pretty easy to care for unless she decided to swim after ducks. Halfway across the lake…
And Millie, the ancient cat, was just…well, the kind word might be simply weird. She pretty much disliked people so no cute, cuddly cat scenario there.
I wept when I thought about leaving my pets. It was a safe thing to weep about since I could not bear to think too closely about leaving my girls without a mom if I were not to survive. That weeping, once started, would be hard to turn off. So instead, I cried about my dogs and cat. And tried to make a plan. Flyers, ads, many phone calls and many tears later, the situation was neatly resolved when generous neighbors offered to help care for our pets over several months. To this day, more than 12 years later, I am still so grateful – and in awe – for such a special kindness.
When we heard Breea needed a home until her family is back together, we jumped at the chance. A sweet opportunity to help in a way we totally understand.
Good girl, Breea. Don’t worry. Your family will be back together soon. Until then, move a little over to the right at the foot of the bed. My foot just fell asleep.