“I like to go out there looking like a strong woman, because I am strong. But I am also a woman who goes through all kinds of problems and highs and lows.” – Katy Perry
My husband Ken and I were in Italy for two weeks at the end of September. It was an idyllic trip and we enjoyed everything—the food, the art, the history, and the scenery. It was one of our best vacations ever.
Unfortunately, things weren’t so great back home. Our dog Dexter had previously had a toe removed due to malignant skin cancer. During our trip, it was discovered that the cancer had spread to his lungs. The oncologist said 6-year-old Dexter had up to a few months to live.
When we came home after our trip, Dexter was coughing a great deal. I had jet lag and could not stop crying. The next morning, I took him for a Blessing of the Pets that is held at our church annually in memory of St. Francis. This seemed like perfect timing and gave me some comfort.
But when Ken returned to work on the Monday after our trip, he was told his services were no longer needed, after 37 years of employment. Even though his company has been laying off employees for nearly two decades, this was still a bit of a shock.
Meanwhile, we were doing palliative care with Dexter, trying to make him comfortable as advised by a veterinary oncologist. However, a week after we came home from our trip, he struggled for every breath and could not eat or sleep. His vet recommended we have him euthanized.
Dexter was a very loveable dog. He loved everyone, and most people loved him. When someone came to our house, even a stranger, Dexter ran around excitedly, then flipped on his back so they could rub his tummy. We will grieve Dexter, but are comforted that his suffering is over.
On the same day that we lost Dexter, we went to the wedding of the son of close friends. We’ve been family friends for decades, and this was a high for us. We ate delicious food, we danced, and we enjoyed being with many dear friends. We are close enough to them that I could talk about what had happened to Dexter. A few friends told us of their sorrows with losing their own beloved pets.
My family and I will have to adjust to these changes. Besides what I’ve mentioned, our youngest child is moving out soon, and Ken and I will be empty-nesters.
Things could be worse, and Ken and I are grateful that we and our children are in good health. We hope to make the best of our altered lives. We have received helpful advice. One friend suggested that I “let the good things about your trip reverberate for you. Use that as fuel to move into your next phase.”
Our friend Allison had similar thoughts. We mentioned that we plan to walk more and go for runs. She said, “You have the opportunity to make new habits. This is worth thinking about so you make good new habits. Both of you have this opportunity.”
She has a good point. When our lives are shaken up, it may be a good time to reflect on what we want our future to be. I don’t mean to be Pollyannaish. Positive thinking will not make the bad times less painful. But possibly we appreciate the good times more if we’ve been through some low times. We can’t escape them; they are part of life, and we need to accept them. I will close with these thoughts from Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3:
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
What are some of the highs and lows that you’ve been through? How have you navigated them?