Love, Loss, and LuLu

LuLu

This will be a repeat for some of you…but today is the one year anniversary of losing our little LuLu and I am reposting my writing on Love, Loss, and LuLu…
Those of you who know me, and I mean really know me, know I was never a dog person. So you can imagine how thrilled I was when the very first words my children uttered were “Dog.”

Not Mom.

Not Da.

Dog.

Truth be told, I was actually thrilled because my twins spoke a twin language until they were nearly three, so when they finally spoke a word I understood I was ecstatic.

Even if it was “dog.”

Their obsession with dogs started the moment they could walk and their favorite place was the dog park, not on a swing or a slide, or in a pool or a sandbox. They loved chasing dogs at the dog park.

When they were old enough to string together a sentence they began asking for one. I would explain that it wouldn’t be fair to get a dog and have them home all alone all day while I was at work and they were at school. I attempted to appease them with all sorts of pets through the years: fish, guinea pigs, even a cat. But these kids, they wanted a dog. They were relentless with the begging and pleading as was I with my solemn and consistent “no.”

Then something happened.

I had to tell my 8-year-old girls that their Dad had died a sudden and unexpected death. It was the worst day of my life. To see your children in what I can only describe as primal pain is something I will never forget. Shortly after George’s death I made some major decisions. These included moving back home to California and working only virtual jobs. It was my attempt to ensure I was making more memories than money.

To my surprise, the kids did not want to leave Arizona. Knowing I would be working from home, I made them a deal: Move to California and you will get that dog you have been asking for since you were three! Yes, I was terrified of owning a dog, but felt like it would be a good experience for all of us and since they had lost their father, perhaps it would be a nice outlet for all that love they had to give.

We moved to SoCal, got settled and began the search. The kids discovered petfinder.com and would present me with literally hundreds of choices daily. In an effort to narrow down the options, I asked them to do some research and give me what they thought would be the three best breeds for our family. After a few days, Rebecca reported we didn’t need to look at three breeds as she had found the one and only breed for us: a Saint Bernard!!!

Um…No.

I took the search over and crafted a detailed email to all the local animal shelters. I explained I was not a dog person and knew little about dogs. I wanted a small adult dog, preferably one that would not piss off my neighbors with incessant barking and bonus points if it didn’t shed. Within hours the Laguna Beach animal shelter emailed me back stating simply: “We have your dog.”

Lulu was such an incredible little being. I used to joke that she was the only thing I have ever really manifested. She was a cat in a min-pin body and oh how she loved the kids! When they would get home from school each day she would jump so high out of pure joy, that she would nearly flip over in a complete air-born somersault. You would swear she was a circus dog.

And the girls…their love for this little 8-pound ball of fur was fierce. If they were ever away for more than a day the first “person” they hugged and told they missed when they got home was LuLu, not me.

LuLu brought our little family closer together. She reminded us how totally cool unconditional love is. She also taught me the importance of taking lots of breaks, long walks, and smelling flowers (no small feat!). That little dog had such a special place in my heart that I referred to her as Ella and Rebecca’s little sister!

We had LuLu for a short 2 ½ years. One year ago today, January 25, 2016, we took her to the park and after a nice run she whimpered, lay sideways and just went totally limp. I rushed her to the pet hospital and although they were able to get her heart started again, after 5 hours of heroic measures, it was clear she was not going to make it.

That night my children had something irreplaceable taken away from them, and at 11-years old, had their hearts completely shattered for the second time in their short lives.

At least this time they got to say goodbye.

That day was the second hardest day of my life, watching them sob and tell our little LuLu to find Daddy in heaven so she could play on the beach while he surfed.

But, it was also the proudest day of my life. As we drove home from the hospital, the car silent but for the sobbing, I spoke the only words I could think of: “I’m sorry. I am so, so sorry.” I didn’t explain what I was sorry for: That I couldn’t fix this, that life wasn’t fair, that I could not make them miss her less or take their pain away, that I had said “yes” to a dog knowing one day it would die and cause them great heartache…..

In response I heard one whisper: “Thank you.” I didn’t respond. I was blinking hard, trying to see the road through my tears, when the other said: “Thank you, Mommy. Thank you for giving us LuLu.”

So while I second-guessed my decision to bring home a pet that would one day die, my children thanked me for giving them the opportunity to love little LuLu and reminded me that as cliche as it is, it is better to have loved and lost then never to have loved at all.

We will miss you, you silly little dog who loved gluten and raw fish, who worshiped the sun and hated mornings….and who loved us unconditionally.