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.


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.

November 1st

Wednesday, November 1st, 2017

Oh friends. This day was one of the worst.

I was on the phone with my mom this morning when she found Bandit (our family dog for you newbies), deceased, on the front porch this morning. From what we can decern, it was a stroke.

So today, we’re snuggling our smallest furbaby just a little harder today.

As most of you know, we live only a half mile from my parents ( same piece of property, just different ends) so when my mom decided to do a walk-around the house because Bandit hadn’t come out to greet anyone that morning, we rushed out the door to my mom’s panicked wails over the phone.

“Oh, sweet girl.” That’s all I could say as we rushed up to her. The tears didn’t come at first, because the shock was so raw.

Growing up on the farm, we lost countless animals. Bandit makes four dogs, four horses, and multiple cats. But she was the first to go on her own. No signs, no symptoms. Just gone in under thirty seconds. No time, no opportunity to tell her how much I loved her, or to show her my best self, my biggest, strongest love.

I’ve already been struggling with mortality this week with Katie’s one year anniversary, but this knocked me breathless. My best gal pal, as I always referred to her as. A true buddy, she was where you were, no matter what. She wasn’t allowed within the fence, so she would lay at the very edge, always toeing the line. Ranger rides were her FAVORITE, and you couldn’t go anywhere on that thing without her. The woods was her favorite place – so much to smell and explore. Her joy was contagious, and the farm lost a little of it’s personality with her gone. It’s too quiet.

Her love for her humans was so deep, so unconditional. Her loyalty so steadfast; the ultimate protector (except in thunderstorms), she was my safety net. The farm was hers, and we were hers – and she knew it. One of my favorite pictures I have of her is of her in front of the barn with her characteristic confident smirk. She was extremely camera shy (major avoided eye contact when the phones or camera came out), so to have this image is so so precious.

No matter the circumstances, when your best, most loyal gal pal has been a part of just under half of your life, it’s painful to say goodbye.

I’ve been thankful for my 365 project for multiple reasons throughout the year, but today proved to bring the most thanksgiving. Because of that project, I have so many more images of her than I would have otherwise. Today as my family struggles through the shock and grief, I am so incredibly thankful for these.

While I’m struggling down here, I know that you’re not anymore, Ban. All of my love and belly rubs, xo.