Saturday, January 22, 2011


He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion.
- Unknown

I'll never forget the night I got the news....

Charlie had cancer.

The dog that has been my best friend through life’s most painful tribulations. The dog that greeted me at our patio every day back from college. The dog that has never run out of love to give with his kisses and a simple tail wag. The dog that is the son to Michael and I. The dog that would not leave my bedside, not even for food or water, as I grieved the death of Michael in Iraq. The dog that senses when I am down and quietly lets me know that I am not alone. The dog that is not just a dog, but something more that few understand.

At first knowledge of the news I didn’t know what to say. The tears just rolled down my cheeks and seemed to never stop. He is the link to me and Michael, a part of us that still lives to know the depth of our love together. He is the one thing that has never left my side. I drifted into a dark place I hadn't been in since the beginning months of Michael's murder.

After Michael died I feared most for when Charlie or Maximus would pass away. I feared how I could deal with their absence, for I knew only Michael would be able to help me through it. But here I was, sans Michael, starting in on a battle for the quality and happiness of our son's life.

A veil of darkness had covered me in the weeks to follow. We decided on radiation and an oral chemo to kick the ass of the sarcoma that rooted from his nasal cavity. For two weeks we took the long drive north for his daily treatments. By the second week he became sloth like, but overnight the mass on his head went down and Charlie had a hop in his step. By December 31st, Charlie had officially finished his treatments and there was a 75% reduction in the tumor.

The past two weeks though have been rough. Radiation burns took over his face, and for once I started questioning if I had made the right choice for him. The pain from the burns was unbearable and again we started daily trips to the doctor. The past two days I've broken down in the office, telling the oncologist assistants and doctors that this isn't what I expected...that I was afraid it was getting worse. They reassured me that this was the worst of it and that it must get this way before it gets better. I replied with that I don't believe that....forgetting in reality that it is an example of my life since Michael's death. Nightly I spoke to Michael about getting Charlie and I through this.

I returned home last night, emotionally drained to my core. I walked through the door, and like all things....when I was running on empty in the hope refueled.

Charlie was running around, eating more food than I could offer, kissing me, wanting to window surf.

I'm upset at myself for letting my optimism get sucked dry by fear, anger, and sadness. I was upset that ignored the fact that I know Michael is glad we decided to put up a fight, I feel it and know he is by my side, with his arm around me, assuring me that we’re all going to be okay. I've forgiven myself though, and today is a good day for Charlie and I.

Papa Giorgio (one of his many names) continues to teach me so much about unconditional love and life, in the sense that he hasn't given up, and he trusts my decisions and gets up every morning to face whatever is set in front of him. He's a fighter, and through the long haul we've both been through since his diagnosis, he still finds time for a kiss goodnight and each morning.

He always was more like Michael than I, but unknowingly, I see that he has seen me pull from the bottoms to the earth to try to find a reason to live, and in return, now has a bit of me in him too.

I love you Papa Jinkies and thank you for continuing to remind me just how to live life, how to love, and how to face the world each day....even when we may not want to.


  1. Our dog Emma was a link to my husband, too. So I understand your dog helped you through the grief, Emma did the same for me. I am glad that your dog is getting better, I will keep him in my thoughts and prayers

  2. I'm sobbing. If there was one piece of advice I'd give to a new widow, it would be:

    "have you got a dog?"
    "get one"

    I too have been loved and comforted by my dogs, who pressed up against my back and stomach, between the two of them ... managed to hold me through the nights of the first christmas without him.

    I too dread the day I have to cope with losing them, alone, without him here to console each other. When our last dog died of old age, (our rottweiler who was a "child" to us) we grieved so deeply. It surprised and shocked Cliff how deeply he felt that loss, how it hurt him more than any loss he'd been through before in fact.

    You are right, many people don't "get" this. I do though <3

    I wish Charlie health and healing, and more years with you x

  3. hug. thx for posting this. lessons in there for me too.

  4. And I have Baron...the last K-9 Don and I shared...he is my last living connection to Don...the one dog whose ashes won't be buried with Don...without Baron to come home to, without Baron to take care of, to feed, water and walk, to give me doggie occupy my mind with his antics...I don't know, I cannot imagine my life without Baron. I wish the very best to you and Charlie...thanks for sharing!

  5. What a beautiful story. Dogs are such wonderful companions and so loving. I live alone and my cats are great company. What really touched me about your story was your speaking of letting anger, sadness, and fear getting you down. I have always had difficulty with these emotions, but they are really difficult to defend against when in grief. It is a constant battle to rise above these feelings. I have some big changes in my life in 2011, and these 3 emotions have been keeping me grounded. Thank you the reminder of where I'm at so I can face them, and then think positive, be positive, and move forward to accept the new adventures in my life.God bless. and best wishes for your dog's recovery.

  6. What a sweet post, and a sweet pup. My dogs too have been a quiet, constant support since my husband's death and I do believe they know when their people are sick and also know when we are doing what we need to make them feel better. If we have learned nothing else, we know to cherish every minute we have left with those (animals and humans) we have left.

  7. Thank you all for letting me know I'm not alone and sending Charlie your love and thoughts <3

  8. Best of luck with you loyal friend. Dogs are family members and you are fighting for his life. He is lucky to have you.

  9. Lots of tears tonight as I read this post. I had to let two of my very large dogs go to other families not too long ago and it was tough. I just couldn't take care of them with just me as they individually outweighed me. My husband could walk them and I couldn't - it wasn't fair to them so I found them phenomenal homes with kids to love. Goldens need so much and I just don't have much left. It was so tough - like starting to grieve all over again.

    Charlie is lucky to have you to love him so very much.

  10. You are not alone and you choice was not wrong. You chose to give your dog a chance to live instead of giving up on him. <3