A Thousand Little Pieces

I’m not even sure where to start. My brain is fragmented. My heart is broken. It’s been a week. It’s been a month. It’s been a year. There are a thousand little pieces of my heart and soul scattered about - fractured, broken, and spilling over. And it’s been hard to muster the energy to pick them back up.

I started this year by losing my precious Meadow Beagle on February 2 after a long battle with nasal cancer and I ended it losing my sweet, sassy Lucy Belle Beagle on December 10 to a shockingly short battle with a chemodectoma on her heart. While Meadow’s passing wasn’t surprising (oh so painful, but not surprising), Lucy Belle’s was sudden and unexpected. We were planning treatment. She had started the first part of it and seemed to be responding well. But in a matter of minutes, she was gone. There was nothing I could do for her. My sweet, precious girl.

Meadow (left) and Lucy Belle (right) in 2011 at our home in Lancaster, PA

Meadow (left) and Lucy Belle (right) in 2011 at our home in Lancaster, PA

I am broken

I’m battered and war-torn after several years of feeling tossed around with illness, career pains, and losing three furry family members (our Stella Blue passed away in 2015). It’s a hard place to start from. It’s hard to have any hope for the coming year. It’s hard to have goals or dreams or plans when loss and grief is so strong.

I’ve spent a lot of time looking at my old blogs (my early grad school one and then the two I had before starting Into the Glimmer), remembering the times I had with these dogs and what my life was like 8-10 years ago. The nostalgia has been strong. Overwhelming, even.

My Heart, My ConSTant

Meadow was my heart dog.

meadow beagle photo collage

I truly believe she was meant to be ours.

In 2011, I saw her on the local Humane League’s Facebook page and convinced my husband to go see her. You know, just to check her out. She wasn’t there when we got there because she was out at an adoption event, but we filled out an application. You know, just in case. She’d be back the next day. And so would we.

We arrived before the shelter opened to get in line to meet here. There were several other families there - lined up with their beagles. All waiting in front of us to meet Meadow.

The doors open and the lady asked if there was a specific dog anyone was here to see and everyone said, “Meadow.” Her next question - has anyone filled out an application already? We were the only ones. And so, we got bumped to the front of line.

I remember the first time I saw her - she was bouncing and "aarrrooooing” like only a beagle can do. Somehow she found her way into my arms, and my heart, within seconds.

And that was that. We were taking her home. They put her on hold and we went to get the rest of our pack - Lucy Belle and Stella Blue at the time - to make sure they all got along. Lucy Belle gave her attitude, of course, but it was clear Meadow was ours. And she made our pack complete.

She was a fearful dog when we got her. Scared of so many things. Except me. She peed on everyone else when they picked her up, but not me. I was her human. I toted her around in a stroller when she was too afraid of the city traffic to walk on the sidewalk. And I toted her around in a stroller when she was too old and sick to walk on her own.

She gradually overcame her fears and became a spunky, happy soul. She was a sweet, joyful dog who took over a permanent space in my heart.

Meadow taught me that old dogs are the best dogs. She was about 10ish when we adopted her, and I’d do it all over again. Old dogs, old souls. They are special. Meadow was special.

Lucy Belle was my constant.

Lucy Belle Beagle photo collage

Lucy Belle…oh, Lucy. What a dog. So lively, so full of attitude, so confident. My first baby.

Like Meadow, she was meant to be ours. After being with several different families, and all returning her to the original owner, I said I wanted her. I had been wanting a beagle and she seemed perfect.

The day I met her, in 2008 (she was 2, almost 3), I had been in a grad school class in the morning. I remember making the 1.5 hour drive home from Baltimore in anticipation of meeting her when I got home. I had chattered excitedly about her in class and I had some dog-loving classmates anxiously awaiting her photos, which I promptly posted on my blog at the time (it was specifically for grad school and the class I was in).

When I finally arrived home, Lucy Belle made her entrance. She was waiting at my boyfriend’s (now husband) brother’s apartment, which was in the same building as ours. Lucy’s original owner was his brother’s girlfriend’s (now wife) step sister, so that’s why she was waiting there.

And what an entrance that dog made. She bopped and trotted around the corner and immediately jumped up on my legs and begged for love and pets - the first of many. We took her inside and within about 30 seconds she tried to bite Stella. Yep, we had our hands full. But we were fine with it. Lucy was home.

The first night, she crawled into our bed and snuggled up under the covers as close as she could get to me. And that’s what she did her whole life. As much as we tried to get our dogs out of the bed at night, she was the only one who refused to budge. She was staying and that was that.

Over the years Lucy went through so many life changes with me - dating, marriage, so many moves from apartments to houses (and 3 house purchases), grad school, a move from PA to NC, a move from NC to SC, pregnancy, motherhood, the preschool years, job pains, job joys - she was always there. My constant.

And I thought I had so much longer with her. In spite of the chemodectoma, she was so healthy and vibrant up until the minutes before she passed. Lucy Belle’s personality was larger than life and she’s left a huge, gaping hole with her absence.

Lucy Belle taught me how to be a dog mom. I worried about her, doted on her, rushed her to the vet for every little issue, and spoiled her to the core. She paved the way for Meadow and our two current beagles, Autumn and Ruby Skye. She hooked me on beagles for life.

Meadow and Lucy Belle

I have bamboo boxes that hold Meadow and Lucy Belle now, each one engraved with their name and a special phrase.

Meadow’s says, “My love will find you.” Because I found her and she found me, and we’ll always find each other - across time and space. Our moments together are frozen in my memory. It was inspired from the Beauty and the Beast song, How Does a Moment Last Forever and the line, “how does a moment last forever, when our song lives on.”

Lucy Belle’s box says, “I will show you love.” Because she brought my first beagle love into my life, taught me how to be a fur kid mom, and because she was an anxious dog who had trouble finding a forever home when her original owner wasn’t able to keep her and when we first got her she was so scared. Our love for her helped her overcome it and become a happy, well-adjusted dog. This one came directly from Kendall Payne’s song, I Will Show You Love.

These were special girls who lived with me through special times. I’ll feel their absence forever.

Moving forward

And so, sitting here at the end of 2018 and peering into 2019, I don’t feel like I’m at the end of a year. I feel like I’m at the end of an era. And that’s a big feeling. A hard feeling. It almost doesn’t feel real. I’m overcome with nostalgia for what was, and having a hard time focusing on hope for what will be.

Our three original girls, Stella Blue, Meadow, and Lucy Belle have all crossed over the Rainbow Bridge. They were the dogs from our younger years, from our days in Lancaster, PA, from pre-kids, from a different life. But one that I look back on and remember it, and them, so fondly. They were a huge part of our world.

One thing is certain, I love having blog posts to look back on as I’ve journeyed through the past decade (I’ve been blogging for more than a decade now…). I have so many memories captured in my various blogs, and it’s why I haven’t deleted any of them, embarrassing as some of them may be at this point.

And it’s why, even though I’m unsure of the direction I’m heading with this blog, I’m going to keep blogging. Because 10 years from now, I want those memories. Of this life, of this moment in time. Of what matters now.

And as I pick up the thousands of pieces of my heart and soul, and move forward, I’ll carry these sweet girls in my heart forever.

Rest in peace, my angels. You are loved and even more, you loved so well.

Me, Meadow and Lucy Belle