Jacob~Milo: A Rescue Story
Celebrating Jacob~Milo's 5th Gotcha Day!
"Who Rescued Whom"? We see this slogan (albeit with improper grammar) all over the socials of the internet, on all kinds of shirts, mugs, magnets, etc. and we know exactly what it means. Every year, across the world, millions of pets are rescued from deplorable living conditions on the streets, in hoarding situations, in evil puppy mills, and even as products in food markets. It sickens me (and I'm sure you too) to the core just imagining the all-consuming fear and abysmal suffering these animals endure! Life must feel like a black hole of misery, panic, and terror for all of these poor creatures; not knowing what will happen next. Just trying to survive.
Depression. We all have some form (to varying degrees) of understanding of the meaning of the word. While for some, the weights of the world and life in general are in fine balance and they move through life relatively happy and content. For others, a seeming hellish nightmare can envelop them into periods of deep despair and anguish. For yet others, a temporary dive into the depths of darkness is a state triggered by events that overload the psyche and are a bigger burden than one can handle all at once. I confess, for a time, that was me.
For yet others, a temporary dive into the depths of darkness is a state triggered by events that overload the psyche and are a bigger burden than one can handle all at once.
Over time, as life unfolds, we are faced with situations that press our minds and emotions into action. And, as incidents occur before having processed the one before, the pressure of these experiences continues to mount. There are circumstances when we aren't even aware of it, that we begin to grieve even before a loss. So, as all these weighty events of sadness and disquietude accumulate, the darkness of the situation has now taken hold.
For me, the years of worry and stress over my Mother as she battled Parkinson's Disease and dementia had been continually building. Concern over my Dad's health, as Mom's 24-hour caregiver, added to the distress in my mind. He was also dealing with significant health issues of his own.
Abruptly, on April 1, 2017, a deep dive began when our beloved Norfolk Terrier boy, Thomas, crossed over to the Rainbow Bridge suddenly and unexpectedly. As loved as any human child could ever be, my plunging descent into that dark hole had begun. I was immediately launched into a blurry haze in which I would live over the next couple of years.
As a pet parent, there are a number of added components to our emotions that are usually just ignored. After the death of a beloved fur-kid, all the normal grieving processes take place but, on top of those crushing emotions, others such as guilt and frustration, in forms that don't manifest in non-pet parents, often take hold. Guilt can surface when we scold ourselves for our profound grief over our treasured pet simply because we think we're being judged by others who may not understand fully the connection and true bond that was there. Frustration mounts when we are faced with well-meaning comments from those same unenlightened folks.
I plodded on.
But, only one month later, after collapsing several times, our sweet little Norfolk Terrier girl, Teegan, was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure and placed on a strict regime of medications. All the while, my Mother continued her downward spiral and my Pops clearly struggled with the mounting responsibility of her care. I did everything I possibly could, making almost daily, the 1-1/2 hour round trip to be there to assist them.
The months passed.
Over the summer, we were tasked with clearing out and selling my parents' home of 51 years. The stress of the responsibility, the heart-wrenching emotions, and exhaustion consumed me on a daily basis. Compassion and care was needed to ensure that Mom wasn't agitated as we disposed of her beloved possession that quite obviously couldn't be moved with them.
By late November it was clear that Mother needed to be in a home for the sake of both her own care and my Dad's. She moved in early December. By Christmas, I had already begun grieving her. Her dementia was gaining ground and often she would look blankly at me for a moment before coming round to realizing who I was. I was praying by then for her, not to get better, but for the Lord to take her Home.
That's the thing about grieving before a loss. Your heart and head battle constantly! Wishing for one thing, but knowing reality is the only thing. In this circumstance, my anguish was smothering me.
A layer of deep guilt was added over the next month as we followed my Dad's advice and tried to "live our lives" as he had put it. He too, was living in reality. So we made our way as usual, to spend our winter in Arizona with our two little fur-kid princesses.
Then a nightmare began.
Mixed signals and unintelligible information was coming from home regarding Mother's condition. I wasn't to receive the explicit order to come home that I was craving. So, we made the decision. But, weather is a predominant factor when planning a 3,400 kilometer trip across 8 states during the winter. So, due to hazardous weather, our plans had to be altered by a few days; all for naught! Just two hours into our trip, we learned of Mother's passing. And, what no level of planning can ever avoid, we encountered an ice storm making travel treacherous and, with the Lord's divine intervention, narrowly escaping what would have been a tragic accident along the way.
After having travelled 44 hours on only 4 hours sleep, we arrived home with just 2 days to prepare for a funeral. Reopening the house which had been prepared for a winter away came with a mountain of stress and frustration. Facing a family full of a lethal mixture of grief and judgement heightened the situation to a frenzy. The heartbreaking fragments of fallout still linger today.
The whirlwind return trip home concluded, we returned to our winter in the southwest expecting to recover and decompress. But, that wasn't to be.
For 11 months Teegan had been receiving treatment for her heart condition. But, her little body wasn't able to fight much longer and on April 5th she joined her brother Thomas at the Rainbow Bridge.
That hole was now blacker, deeper, and more ominous than ever!!
In just 370 days, half of my entire life had left me; Thomas, Mom, and Teegan. But, along with it were more than 370 days of stress, worry, heartache, anguish, frustration, guilt, and so many more un-nameable emotions building up, piling up one on top of the other, multiplying exponentially. That black hole was becoming a cavern that was threatening to swallow me up.
Then, the email!
He appeared in an email early one morning as I lay in bed trying to decide if I even wanted to get up. Miss Joee was snuggled in close beside me. She too (as well as her Dad) had been filled with the grief and aware of the veil of sadness that had fallen over our household. But oh, that face .....
I looked into the eyes of that boy; big, brown, and calling to me. He had been named "Drifter" by the shelter apparently because of his having been rescued as a stray from the edge of the desert near Phoenix. And, oh how I know that the Lord was working overtime. As I read through his profile, my heart began to flutter and then pound, my eyes filling with tears, my mind racing! Described as a Cairn-Norfolk Terrier cross, the three of our Rainbow Bridge Angels were a Cairn and two Norfolks! Oh, how I know that the Lord was at work!
So I called and he was available. Yay! It was Friday and my husband said, "Let's wait until Monday." But, a family was going to meet him on Sunday. Oh no! Would he be gone by then?
But, again, the Lord was still working! Monday came and as it happened, the family didn't want him; he was still there. We quickly drove to Phoenix that day and within a few hours he was at home and part of our family! He was the first tiny ray of light to break through the ominous clouds; the first glimmer of hope.
Jacob~Milo, named for each of our maternal grandfathers.
Immediately, our hearts -all three of them- began beating a little livelier, in the presence of this new little man. It was love at first sight between him and me but, even after a few short days of lavish love and attention, our little Jake began to blossom. And, along with it, the glaze over my own world was becoming less opaque.
Now, with our little family, once more expanded, we resumed life, but in an altered way. The sense of loss and pain and grief was still with me, but the numbness wasn't as deep as before. Jake was always right beside me, his silly self performing to make me smile.
Fast forward 21 months.
My heartache was about to ramp up to the max now! My beloved Pops, who had been pining for Mother since her loss 23 months earlier, had been diagnosed with bladder cancer. He fought a short but courageous battle however, in the end, he was happy to join Mother. I know his faith was strong and he was content to go to the Lord!
But, he left me here on earth without him! Since the loss of my Mother, I had remaining two deeply dedicated loves; one for my husband, the other for my Pops (not to mention my darling fur-kids Joee and Jake). But now, Dad had gone too.
Spiraling once again.
This! This was the deepest dive yet! Those layers were piling up again, just when they seemed to be peeling away. I was just a shell, mechanically manoeuvring through a day-to-day existence.
Having been forced to quarantine, due to Covid, upon our abrupt return to Canada, I was denied the chance to hold Dad's hand and kiss him goodbye. I was forced to think of him lying alone in a hospital bed as his life slowly and quietly ended. Oh that chasm of blackness was as wide as the Grand Canyon!
But throughout the turmoil of raging emotions, my sweet and comical Jacob~Milo was always happy; lavishly smothering me in kisses and sleeping snuggled by my side. My Jacob~Milo.
And, while I know that the connection with Jacob~Milo, my "heart dog", has been invaluable to boosting my low times, the support of my husband, a very dear and intuitive long-distance sister-friend, and my strong faith also kept me from falling over the edge.
Happy 5th Gotcha Day!!
On April 23rd, it will be 5 years since our darling boy Jacob-Milo joined our family. At a time when the forces of darkness and shadows of sadness were gaining strength, his tiny 10 pounds of unconditional love and loyalty became the barrier to their destruction. Jacob-Milo, the feisty little man, whose face lights up a room and tail wags ceaselessly, brought a shimmer of light and endless happiness to my very heavy heart.
Happy 5th Gotcha Day, Jacob~Milo!! We know who really rescued whom!