How Fast Life Changes

Last Thursday, we were celebrating Baylor’s 2nd birthday. My sister Ali, Mame (Baylor’s Godmother and so much more), Grandma and Grandpa and Auntie Beth were gathering at our house to celebrate.  It was a great night filled with presents, really ugly home-made cake pops and lots of love.

This Thursday we were attending Mame’s funeral.

The juxtaposition between the two weeks is horrific. I can’t get the fact that life has changed in such a short period of time. I am struggling to write this post, but I want to pay tribute to a wonderful woman.

Mame’s real name is Mary. She was our nanny since before I was born and quickly became part of our family. Ali couldn’t say Mary so she came up with some cross between Mommy and Mary and got Mame or Mamie. The name stuck. In fact I remember learning that Mame wasn’t her real name around age 6. I usually referred to her as my aunt because it was just easier to explain, but truthfully, there wasn’t a fitting description for her role. When Baylor was born, it was clear there was no better Godmother than Mame and she took her role very seriously. It was nice to finally have some sort of description that people would begin to understand.

Mame learned that the ovarian cancer she had battled seven years ago was back for another round last September. It came looking for a fight and it got one. She underwent some of the nastiest chemotherapy out there and still managed to go to work for a few hours each day and have Baylor over for “Camp Mamie” at least once a week. Even when we didn’t see each other, we talked daily. To say she was a fighter was an understatment.

Last week her pain became extremely elevated and the weekend after attending Baylor’s party, her body gave up to the cancer, medicine and pain. Truthfully, we knew things weren’t going to get better. But the shock of loosing her so quickly is crushing. The worst part is that Baylor is struggling with understanding where her friend, playmate and Godmother has gone. We have explained as best and as gently as we can, but it’s an ongoing process as an innocent little two-year-old’s mind and heart cannot fathom death and forever. It is a constant conversation as she asks if we can call Mamie or if Mamie is home. She is now answering her own question by getting very quiet and saying “Angel Mamie” which is quite literally killing me.

One of the bright spots in this week has been the enormous outpouring of support from family and friends. I have always known how amazing they all are, but it’s not until I’m falling apart do I really realize how blessed I am to have them. They have brought cookies, muffins and tequilla. Facebook messages, text messages, emails and cards. Offered to babysit, make arrangements, sort and pack up belongings and sit and listen. They planned a birthday dinner for me for this weekend because they knew I’m not my normal birthday-loving-self this year. To say that they are the best is not enough. I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve them, but I know I need to keep it up.

I have also been reminded what an amazing man I married. You never quite know what the “for worse” part of your marriage vows are going to encompass, but this week would sure qualify. Peter has been the constant shoulder to cry on, dealt with my crabby attitude, my constant feeling of being overwhelmed, made dinner, worked from home, helped organize documents and been the soft spot to fall for both Baylor and I. When I told him what my mom was planning to put together for food for a reception, he insisted on handling the food himself. He made all the arrangements and brought Mame’s favorite mexican food for everyone to enjoy. He has done all of this with a smile and compassion far greater than anyone should have to have in this situation. I have always said if I could clone him, I would make millions. After this week, it would be billions.

So today we all pick up the pieces of our broken hearts and start to move forward. It hurts. It’s sad and it’s hard, but it’s necessary. The world is a little sadder and a little dimmer, but there are so many people who are better for just knowing Mame. We laughed tonight thinking about her sitting at a table surrounded by family and friends in Heaven, drinking Amaretto Sours, listening to Cheap Trick and enjoying every minute of it.

Ode to Mr.T

Last week, we said good bye to our dog Travis.  I think I’m finally able to write this without the words blurring from tears and hoping it makes me feel a little better.

We were lucky to have had Trav in our lives for twelve years. He has been there for so many life events for us – he licked high school and college graduation invitations. He chewed up a few wedding invitations. Drove across the country from Phoenix to Washington DC four times happily panting in the back seat of our car with his brother. He was totally terrified of Baylor when she was born, but knew she was his to protect so he always sat inbetween her and any visitor. And while he was always gentle and even a little skittish, he always was up for a good game of “pin the yard guy to the wall”.

Travis was a volunteer with Pets on Wheels and visited many infirmed and elderly always greeting them by sitting sweetly next to them or with gentle paws on the side of their bed. We called him the love sponge because it was impossible to pet him too long – he could have gone bald and would have been perfectly happy to stay there a little longer. We were warned by the breeder that he was “kinda bad” and he lived up to that now and then. He couldn’t leave a giant cube of Costco toilet paper sit idly on the floor – it had to be shreaded into a million pieces and some of it consumed. Upon discovery, he would only look at us with a happy face and wagging tail and an expression that said “isn’t this AWESOME?!”. It was always hard to get mad at that face.

Travis had kidney failure that started several months ago and it became noticeable that it was getting worse over the last few weeks. We knew it was time. Our house feels off balance without him stretched out on the bed, snuggled in the closet, barking at the window, sneaking goldfish crackers with Baylie or enjoying his rediculously tedious meal of kibble, beef broth and ground turkey “al fresco” on the patio. The thought that he’s not just around the corner is crushing.

Travis went by many names: Travis, Trav, Trav Trav, Travie, Trav-meister, Mr. T, Little Man Tate, Tatetells, Tate…he answered happily to all of them.

Some of my favorite pictures of our buddy.

Painting our house in DC

Always the guard dog

Always willing to wear the stupid antlers I had for Christmas

Always watching over his girl


Enjoying a Greenie in the sunshine