January 2nd

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2019

Warning: My heart is feeling melancholy today. I often try to keep my posts upbeat, but I’m giving myself some leeway and grace today.

So, with that warning, here we go.

With the change in calendar always comes the idea of a “blank slate” and “new beginnings.” But what we tend to not talk about as much is how painful those blank slates and new beginnings can be. What about those things that you would’ve loved to bring with you into the new year?

I recently read a post by someone grieving the loss of a relationship and what she said about that grief hit my heart. She simply said to give grief it’s time; that the grieving process takes at least 366 days.

One year and one day.

It took me a moment to really understand what she was saying and then it hit me: the year following the loss always has “checkpoints.”

“This time last year we were doing this, this time last year we were doing that. This time last year I was feeling this way or that way.”

The idea that comparison is the thief of joy. For example, last year at this time I was smiling at Burke laying on the stairs in his favorite spot in the sun, and today that same sunshine coming through my windows and onto the stairs made me stop and weep for a more than a moment.

While I thought the eight months without him would’ve given me enough distance, I had to stop and remember that it’s ok to still work through how I feel. That this hadn’t hit me in previous seasons because the sun wasn’t positioned in the sky just right to come in the house that way until now.

The change of calendar can’t change how I feel about the sunshine on my stairs.

Don’t get me wrong, I feel much hope and joy about the beginnings of a new year, but know that I also feel for all of you out there who may be grieving a loss and struggling with feelings of change.

We’ll get through it, friends, for joy comes in the morning.

366 days; one year and one day.

 

November 24th

Saturday, November 24th, 2018

“The stockings were hung by the chimney with care…”

One of my favorite things to decorate for the first year we lived in our house was Christmas. I went to Target and splurged on Christmas lights, stockings and these cute little reindeer stocking hooks for our mantel. All of those things are still some of my favorites to set up.

This year was a little different.

I pulled out all of my garlands, ornaments, my advent calendar, and our beloved stockings and started setting up. It felt wonderful until I got to the bottom of my tote, and I came across Burke’s stocking. A cute little stocking more than likely meant for a baby, but it was perfect for our little furry peanut.

It’s our first Christmas without him, and it brought a flood of feelings.

He used to love when I decorated for Christmas – sitting under the tree was his favorite thing. Ever since he was a babe, he had a thing for snoozing under Christmas trees. The picture below is Burke only a couple weeks after I got him under our Charlie Brown apartment tree. He was only a couple of months old here!

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I almost didn’t hang it up, but I thought it was a great way to remember him through.

It’s been seven months since that nugget last wiggled his little nose at me, and I miss him. I think of him often, and how much joy he brought. My sweet sass master, my little bun with a big heart. He got me through a lot, and was there for so many big life events. The first animal who lived in my home with me, who became a part of my daily routine.

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So now, I’ll smile when I look at his stocking hanging over the fireplace. Each season brings it’s own “without yous,” but soon we’ll reach our one year mark, and each benchmark will get easier and easier.

 

April 23rd

Monday, April 23rd, 2018

Death is one of those things where you never truly understand it.

The idea is a simple one when you aren’t emotionally involved: a soul leaves the earth, you won’t see them again here. They aren’t on vacation, they aren’t just gone running a few errands, they aren’t just in the next room, they’re just simply not coming back gone.

The end.

However, when you are emotionally involved, it just isn’t that simple.

A quick glance at a cat’s toy sitting in Burke’s favorite spot becomes Burke for a split second in my mind. I round the corner into our bedroom, and it’s a physical habit to move around in such a way so I can see his cage and check for him. I open the crisper drawer in the fridge, and I turn around with a smile already on my face expecting to see his little nose wiggling at me, but he isn’t there.

In one week since he’s been gone, it’s been an adjustment. But life moves on. With that comes both freedom and guilt.

I’m navigating both of those things. Lots of prayer, lots of reflection. It’s the first loss of an indoor pet for me, so this adjustment is entirely new.

 

But this is another step towards healing.

While at the vet last Monday, they offered me cremation services for Burke. I did end up opting for individual cremation, and Paul and I actually picked his ashes up on Saturday morning. I was able to “bring him home,” and surprisingly, that gave me a lot of comfort. However, what really, truly, brought me the most comfort?

Our vet had saved a piece of his hair for us. A recognizable physical piece of him – something I thought I’d never have to keep. Also in there was a small, circular clay disc that had Burke’s paw prints pressed into it. This office has just kept giving and giving.

I had it all together when I walked into the office that morning and was feeling surprisingly well, but that additional small gesture (and time) that they gave had me in tears as I walked out the door. The kindness and compassion they’ve shown through this whole deal has just been unending.

When we got home, I opened the small cardboard box to look at his ashes. I knew going in on Saturday to pick them up that there wouldn’t be much (he was only three pounds, and mostly hair at that), but there really wasn’t much. In fact, he’s in that small box I’m holding in today’s picture. Dust to dust.

“For the fate of humans and the fate of animals is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and humans have no advantage over the animals; for all is vanity. All go to one place; all are from the dust, and all turn to dust again.”
Ecclesiastes 3:19-20

April 17th

Tuesday, April 17th, 2018

Ugh, you guys. If I thought Bandit was hard, this just doesn’t even compare.

Even though Burke didn’t make much noise, the house seems so quiet. Too quiet. I removed his cage from our bedroom yesterday, and our room now looks empty. His blanket and litter box are gone from under my desk, where he’d always nap at this time in the afternoon. The sun is shining today, and he would’ve loved a sun bath. I opened the crisper drawer of the fridge today, and no little bunny nose wiggled at me from the edge of the carpet. I woke up this morning, and opened my eyes expecting him to be excitedly waiting for me to get out of bed, but he wasn’t there. I didn’t have anyone to give breakfast too this morning. No sweet bunny chews after I tell him that I love him and kiss his cheeks. No ear swivel when I call his name from across the room.

All of these things are following me from room to room. Habits, memories, routines interrupted.

So quite honestly, I had to escape my house today. I dropped off dry cleaning, smiled at strangers, got my car washed, stopped at the library, then came home and went back to the barn. Luckily, stalls were horrendous since we’ve gotten so much snow and they track it in and make everything wet. It gave me something to do. Henna and I went on a walk back in the woods, played in the snow. Buck and Junior got lots of kisses.

Then I got a call from a number I didn’t recognize.

I ignored it, and went back to what I was doing.

It called again.

So I answered. “Oh hi, Courtney, I’m with Flowers Plus, and I’m at your house with a delivery for you, but I’m not sure if you’re home.”

Back up to the house I went, a sloppy, sniffly mess because a sweet someone sent me a incredibly kind gesture. I couldn’t wrap my mind around it.

I walked in with my vase of flowers, and when I opened up the wrapping to look at the card, I was completely speechless.

With love from Barrington Oaks.

My vet! Folks, my vet sent me flowers. So completely unexpected, and so so kind.

We’ve been working closely with them for the past month, as Burke continued to get infection after infection. Then dental work, recovery, and an abscess under his jaw. Our treatment plan became limited, and I had to make the call yesterday. Dr. Sarah cried with me when I told Burke that I loved him, that I’d miss him, and when I gave him so many goodbye kisses. She never rushed me, even though I’m sure she had other appointments yesterday. They unlocked the back door, so I didn’t have to walk through the lobby on the way out. And then they sent me flowers.

Life is going to involve a lot of adjustment now, but when you have a community like that, it gives me a better start.

And thank you to all of you who prayed for me yesterday, and continue to pray. I am so blessed to have a community of friends and family like you.

April 2nd

Monday, April 2nd, 2018

After a long day of running, this made my heart full.

It’s been weeks since Burke has sat on the couch with me. Whether it was because he wasn’t feeling good, or because the cats were sprawled up there, I don’t know; however, today he pushed his way past the cats and snuggled in next to me on our favorite blanket.

Many, many snuggles and kisses (and Burke chews) ensued.

March 13th

Tuesday, March 13th, 2018

Today has been a far better day than yesterday.

First, I wanted to follow up on how Burke’s doing – you all have been so thoughtful in reaching out this morning to check in on him. I treasure all of you!

Burke is back to his spunky, sassy self this morning – his hunger is insatiable, he’s steady on his feet, and he’s back to bossing the cats around. As I’m sitting at my desk, I turned around and took these just now:

Not pictured: Colt and Finn also snoozing in the sun. They’re just as happy to have him back as I am (…almost).

So again, thank you so much to those who reached out with love and prayers. Yesterday was, honestly, a really crappy day, and it meant so much to know that you all were thinking of us. Thank you!

So today, it’s like God wanted to make it up to me photographically. Either that, or all the critters are out and about, happy for the warmth and sunshine. It was really a day that it was so hard to pick one image, so you’re getting them all.

Let’s start with the one I did pick for the featured photo today.

Driving up the driveway to the farm today, there were two swans standing on the edge of the pond. So I stopped and photographed them for a few minutes until they flew away to join more that flew in overhead.

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So that caused me to leave my camera in the car when I took Henna for a walk in the woods. I thought oh, great I’ve gotten my picture for today, and it’s mid-day, full sun. The owls won’t be out today (I’ve only ever seen them in the middle of the day on overcast days). I’ll just enjoy the walk, I told myself.

Wrong, wrong, all wrong.

How many times have I said: ALWAYS HAVE YOUR CAMERA. Enough times that I should know better.

Henna runs into the woods, and sure enough there she (the owl) is. She spooked from the tree she was in and flew into AN OPEN AREA. INTO DECENT LIGHT. No trees to obstruct my view, I’m actually on the right side for decent light. COURTNEY RAE WHERE IS YOUR CAMERA.

At the farm in my car.

I’m not a runner (especially in the deeper snow), but I RAN back to the farm (probably about 1/3 mile). Henna thought it was glorious, but I was fueled by frustration: It takes no extra time or energy to bring your camera. ALWAYS BRING THE CAMERA, COURTNEY. ALWAYS. I kicked my own butt all the way back.

I closed Henna in the barn, grabbed my camera, and jogged back out to the woods.

“Please, please, please God. I’ll give you all the glory, all the credit if you just keep that beautiful owl in that tree. I’ll shout your name from the rooftops. Please, please, please.”

I got back into position, and she was gone. The disappointment was crushing, but there was nothing I could do. I missed my chance. The annual glance at her came and went; I missed it.

So I stood there, sulking, for a few minutes. Lecturing myself.

Well, I thought, maybe she was just out of range anyway. Maybe I wouldn’t have gotten my shot anyways. So I raise my camera and snap a picture, just to appease myself that it wouldn’t have worked anyway. Here is that image:

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Is anyone good at “I Spy”? She’s in this image. This is why I have so much love and respect for God’s creation. I stood there for minutes, and I was looking for her – I knew exactly where she had been and I still didn’t see her until the camera found her.

Hey, ya’ll – God is a pretty awesome guy. He makes beautiful things, and follows through on his promises. On top of the swans and the owl, he also sent these guys my way today:

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The squirrel may not seem like a challenge, but trust me, wild squirrels that are self sufficient and don’t rely on humans for food are extremely shy. They aren’t like college campus Squirrels. And this guy is a Fox Squirrel, which aren’t overly common – the result of a Gray Squirrel and Red Squirrel that mate. He plants himself there in front of our trail cam all day everyday, but I’ve never seen him while out there myself. He made me smile!

March 12th

Monday, March 12th, 2018

Two questions to start off today’s blog: How many times can a girl go to the vet in one day, and How thankful is this girl that she works from home.

Answers: 3 trips, and SO THANKFUL!

This day really did not go the way I thought it would. It was like one plot twist after another. Let’s just say I found myself saying “Okay, God” more than once today.

Went to bed last night, Burke was great. Drinking water, eating hay. Fast forward to this morning, and he refused to even look at food. He was in obvious distress; so much so that he hid from me under the bed where I couldn’t reach him. That’s extremely out of character for him.

So I called the vet, made an appointment. The earliest they had was 2:30, so we had to stick it out until then.

Time went so slow.

And in true Burke form, I walked into the bedroom to get him ready for the vet and Burke started eating his breakfast from hours ago. But I decided that I still wanted to take him, because something was obviously going on.

So, off to the vet we go. Vet thinks UTI, so they take him to get a urine sample. She comes back – go figure that his bladder was bone dry. So now he has to stay the remainder of the afternoon so they can get their sample. We also decided on blood work to make sure nothing else was going on.

I felt so guilty leaving him there. Rabbits are known for not doing well in times of stress, and I knew that staying there wasn’t going to be pleasant for him. But, neither is an infection.

Home I went.

A couple hours later, I drove back to pick him up (for those of you keeping track at home, this was trip #2). They were able to get their sample, definitely a UTI, but he did great (charmer), take him home.

We packed up our meds and home we went.

Got home, gave him his first round of meds before taking him out of the carrier. He took them great, no problems, so I brought him to our bedroom (where his cage is), and opened the carrier.

He was a little wobbly on his feet, but I attributed that to being in the car.

Well then he couldn’t find the opening to his cage. He was confused. He turned quickly and fell over – like collapsed from weakness.

I thought “He did get his blood drawn, maybe he’s just a little woozy.” He was desperate for food, so I put him up on the ledge in his cage to eat, and he did fine. He ate every last piece.

At this point, Colt must’ve been able to sense that something wasn’t right. He tried to climb into the cage with Burke, and I wouldn’t let him, so he got as close as he could to the side of the cage.

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I was starting to feel better after he ate, but then when he moved to jump down, he didn’t know where his feet were and he fell down. Hard. And then stumbled across his cage.

Panic.

I called the vet, and I asked the receptionist who took my call if unsteadiness was normal after a blood draw. She said she’d ask my vet. I knew it wasn’t good when the vet picked up my call.

“How fast can you get him back here?”

PANIC. Breathe. PANIC.

I held off tears the whole way until Paul called. He soothed my panicked soul, told me to call him back afterwards.

I pulled into the vet, wiped my eyes, and said “Okay, God.”

My vet did an orthopedic exam and a neurological exam, but he seemed to be responding normally to everything.

“No spinal injury, no obvious pain. We can do X-rays if you want, but I think he just is over stressed from the activity today.”

So we talked through how to watch him overnight, and she sent me home with one more med, and she promised she’d call me first thing in the morning to see how he’s doing.

So here we are, home again. I took the ledge out of his cage, so he can’t jump or fall, and am hoping rest is what he needs.

He’s already eating and drinking great again, and he’s been heavily sleeping (see his eyes closed in the picture?) since we’ve been home.

He’s still a little unsteady, but not as much as before. At least now I know the meds are at work, and he has a full belly.

God had me busy today, but at least He’s setting me up to be able to sleep tonight.

March 9th

Friday, March 9th, 2018

A full day away from home always puts into perspective how blessed I am to have furbabies that are excited when I get home.

I really am fortunate that I can work from home, and there are few days when I’m gone all day, so when I am, they act as if it’s been days.

Happy, healthy, and eager for my companionship. You really can’t ask for more than that.

So when I was thinking of what I could do for an image today, I knew I wanted to do a self portrait. Burke was vying for my attention, so I thought we could try for a different portrait of the two of us.

But that’s when I realized, that it’s the way Burke looks at me that shows our relationship. His spunky little self loves to get my attention by coming up beside me, and sitting up. He’s so polite and freaking adorable that it works every single time.

So I thought, that’s the memory I wanted to preserve. That look from him that I know so well, but that others do not. That’s what makes it special.

I love you, little bun ❤️

February 21st

Wednesday, February 21st, 2018

My old friend.

My sweet, sassy, sensitive friend.

At six and a half years old (65 rabbit years), he’s getting up there. His naps are longer, his energy diminishes faster. So far, I haven’t seen any signs of arthritis or other physical signs of aging. He passed his sight and hearing tests at the vet last month.

But I know my time may be limited. If we’re being honest, I think I’ve been a little guarded with him after losing Bandit.

So in an effort to fight that, I’ve been setting aside time at night just him and I (no cats) to snuggle.

I’ve also been allowing him into our office (usually he’s not allowed in there) to lay in the sun during the day, as it’s one of his favorite things to do. He often lays out like this, completely relaxed in the warmth. He has always laid on the sun on the stairs, but the office gets more exposure and a larger surface for him to stretch out on.

How is it that such a small little soul can have such hold on your heart?

February 19th

Monday, February 19th, 2018

Self portraits and critters: Attempt #1.

After doing this image today, I’m adding onto my parameters for self portraits: I am allowed to do more than one try at getting just the right image. For example, I was running out of light suuuuper quick tonight, so I rushed this image. Low light, not great focus, lots and lots of noise (pixelation/graininess of sorts, for you non-photo loves) = not one that I’m satisfied with. Fine for today’s image, because it’s all a learning process that I’m going through and sharing with all of you, but not my perfect image of me and Burke.

The bun deserves more, ok? 😉

But he hasn’t been feeling totally like himself recently, and with the cats around, he doesn’t get the one-on-one love and attention he’s used to getting, so I wanted to try and capture our quick cuddle session tonight before I was off to other things.

My sweet old love.