I just figured out how to start a blog, when I cannot find a hook: JUST WRITE, and allow everything else to flow. Fall of 2019 seems like decades ago. Ana was starting her junior year in high school, Jacob was staying home for the semester to continue his chemo treatments, and Naomi and I were coming up for air. Jacob’s cancer was, seemingly, controlled. Jacob’s friends were back at school while he was doing his best to stay busy between his chemo treatments. Moreover, this was a time when we all took a breath and reflected on the past five months. What had just happened?
Naomi and I were still in scramble mode. Between work, doctor appointments, catching up on life, and the rest of “parenting,” we tried everything. Although my memory isn’t good, I believe we both looked at getting a puppy. I think I told her my idea of getting a dog to give Jacob a nice project and companion during this time. Naomi, the pragmatist, asked the general questions of who’s going to walk, feed, and take care of this dog? I told her the TRUTH that I made up in my mind, and told her I would. She is still waiting for me.
So, we decided to get a puppy. We looked online and spoke to many people. Three years ago, today, our Phoebe was born. I saw her on a website for doodles. We needed a non-shedding (or minimal shedding) dog, so we narrowed down the parameters. “Belle” (Phoebe’s name at birth) caught my eye immediately. She was the dog without question. Ana and I drove to Columbus, picked up my niece, Molly, at Dennison and met this couple at an Arby’s to finish the transaction. It seemed sketchy but she had all the paperwork. Phoebe Belle was now a Butze!
Jacob fell in love immediately. He worked so hard with Phoebe. So much of his life had spun out of control. Training Phoebe proved to be such a positive experience for Jacob. Phoebe and Jacob were so close. I was the problem in their relationship. I undermined his work. I’m too soft. Jacob would work on sit, stay, and other commands with Phoebs. She only received a treat when she listened and executed perfectly. I sneaked her rations. Jacob caught me every time, for which I was scolded.
Today, Phoebe turned three. She celebrated by going to “school” with her friends and playing. Naomi dug up her “It’s my birthday” bandana, blanketing her with love. I dropped her off to play. Then, I cried. I cried all the way to work today. This is the painful duality of grief. Phoebe is good. She represents all that is good with this world. She is love. Unfortunately, I am remined of the reason we brought her into our lives. She saved us, one day at a time, from the pain of all that is and was. Reflecting on her birthday digs up a guttural and excruciating reality that Jacob is not here. I will celebrate Phoebe today while honoring Jacob.
I miss my sweet prince. Happy birthday Phoebs!