Category Archives: Harry

Harry The Bee

People either like costumes or they don’t. I fall squarely in the don’t column, although that wasn’t always the case. I enjoyed dressing up for Halloween when I was a little girl. I remember a few epic costume parties in high school and college. But somewhere in the space between being a kid and having kids, the allure of Halloween costumes faded away.

It was in that middle place that I had a molar pregnancy that resulted in cancer in my uterus and a lot of time to ponder if I would ever have children at all. It was easily the scariest thing that ever happened to me, and it sent me down a deep rabbit hole of fear, anxiety, and depression. Ultimately I healed, but not without a lot of time, therapy, and Harry the Bee.

Harry was the Boston terrier my husband and I got when we couldn’t have a baby. The Bee was the Halloween costume we bought for him on a whim at a chic pet store that sold uber-expensive canine clothing and accessories to people who didn’t have to worry about preschool tuition payments.

We also bought Harry a dry clean-only argyle sweater, but in our defense, we didn’t know about the washing instructions until it was covered in dirt. The sweater was undeniably an impractical purchase, but the bumblebee costume was worth every silly penny.

It’s true that parenthood gives you fresh eyes, which make things like Disney World, Christmas morning, the ice cream truck, and Halloween fun all over again.  Eventually, we had two healthy children, but until that future arrived, Harry was our baby and dressing him in a bumblebee costume for Halloween unearthed a sensation of joy inside of me that had long been dormant.

Harry saved me when I needed to be saved and made me feel safe in a world that without warning had become insecure. For eight Halloweens and through all of the ups, downs, ins, and outs of marriage and motherhood, Harry was my anchor.  Year after year, he and his black and yellow stripes and bumblebee wings reminded me that everything would be okay.

Last year, on Harry’s ninth Halloween, he was too weak to wear his bee costume.  He had insulinoma, a cancer in his pancreas, and despite our best efforts and interventions, we couldn’t save him. October 31st was, in fact, Harry’s last day here on Earth. We whispered our goodbyes all throughout the night and held him close the next morning when he was finally released from his pain and suffering.

In the days that followed, we got rid of or donated most of our pet supplies, but not before letting the kids decorate and fill memory boxes with items, including photos, drawings, and squeaky toys, that they wanted to keep to remember their big (canine) brother. My husband also tucked away some sentimental items. A harness and a tag, I think. I kept something special, too. Harry’s bumblebee costume.

The irony isn’t lost on me that we lost our sweet Harry the Bee on Halloween.  A year later, I’m not sure I’m ready to celebrate this holiday without him, but if Harry’s life and death taught me anything, it’s that joy hides in the most unexpected places and almost always lies at the end of a deep rabbit hole.

~In loving memory of Harry the Bee~

This essay originally appeared on Mamalode.

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Filed under death, Halloween, Harry

God Is In The Picture

I’m as surprised as you are that I’m writing about God. As Dylan would say, “Awkwaaaaaard.” I feel as qualified to talk about God as I do quantum physics or Minecraft mods. What the heck is a mod, anyway? I don’t even know if it’s appropriate to write God or if I’m supposed to write G-d. The whole thing makes me as uncomfortable as watching “Keeping Up With The Kardashians.” I’m going to stick with the “o” over the dash here, because the dash makes me feel even more anxious, if that’s possible.

I believe in an energy that runs through the universe and that if I’m lucky or fortunate or grateful enough, I can tap into it to feel something larger than myself, but I don’t know if that means I believe in God.

I send prayers to friends and family who are grieving or ill, I whisper a prayer for safe travels every time I get on and off an airplane, and I see my beloved Harry in rainbows and sunsets, but I don’t know if that means I believe in God.

Years ago, a gust of wind knocked me off of my feet after my Great Aunt Glenna died. I felt her presence so fiercely that I lost my breath, but I don’t know if that means I believe in God.

I don’t know why I can’t just say that I do or that I don’t believe in God. Whichever it is, a concrete answer would be a lot easier to live with than the perpetual questioning to which I subject myself. But, I can’t. I simply don’t have an answer, so God and I have an unwritten agreement to keep a safe distance from one another. We avoid eye contact, we’re not friends on Facebook, and we let calls go to straight to voicemail, but regardless of our efforts, something keeps bringing us together.

It’s not motherhood per se. Becoming a mother didn’t sway me one way or the other, although I totally get how it could. I mean, I grew a human being inside of my body! Twice! My molar pregnancy didn’t squash or boost my faith either. It just made me angry and sad. A decade later, it’s a wash. I’ve experienced the devastation of loss and the miracle of life, and I’m still on the fence.

It’s my kids. My children have natural and independent inclinations toward God and the unknown that have nothing to do with me (that I’m aware of). I have parented them the same. I have given them the same foundation of values. I have provided them with the same education. Yet, Dylan questions everything. He’s fascinated with death and insanely inquisitive about the afterlife, so much so that I sometimes wonder if maybe he’s been here (or there?) before. Whereas some kids ask “Why?” on a permanent loop, Dylan’s go-to question is, “What happens after we die?”

Riley, on the other hand, plainly and beautifully accepts God as true. “God is everywhere,” he once told me once while nibbling on Goldfish crackers in the car. “God is in my Goldfish,” he said munching away. How could I argue with that? It was a lovely sentiment, especially considering how many Goldfish cracker crumbs were on the floor of the backseat of my car.

Another time, Dylan asked, “Who makes shoes?”

Riley said, “God makes shoes.”

“Actually,” I piped in, “people make shoes,” to which Riley concluded, “God makes all the things that people don’t know how to make.”

Fair enough.

These conversations happened when the boys were much younger, but I remember them clearly – in fact, I wrote them down – because I never want to forget the authentic and easygoing relationship they have with God. I remain as confused as ever, but my kids and their unabashed honesty – about their certainty or their doubt – have taught me to appreciate my spiritual journey more and worry about my spiritual destination less.

I no longer cower from or cringe over my boys’ questions about life and death and everything in between. I welcome the opportunity to engage their curiosity and confront my own hesitancy. When Riley says, “God is in my heart,” I’m comforted by his faith (how ever long it lasts), and I’m equally reassured by Dylan’s courage to question it all.

Not long ago, Riley and I did an art challenge after dinner. In an art challenge, we choose a theme and then we each draw a picture. When we’re done, Dylan or Dad picks a winner. (Exciting stuff, I know. At least it’s not Minecraft!) That night, I drew a bird per Riley’s instruction and he drew a truck per his whim.

Several minutes into our battle, he said, “I think I’m going to win.”

“Why is that?” I asked as I feverishly drew a bird with colorful feathers surrounded by fall foliage.

“Because God is in the picture,” he said.

“God is in your picture?” I asked peeking over.

“He’s building a house,” Riley explained.

godriley

Indeed, God was building a house in the sky above the truck, Best Buy, and “Targit.”

My little feathered friend and I were totally screwed, because you can’t win an art challenge if your opponent has God in his picture. Still, I felt triumphant because, thanks to my kids, God is in my picture, too.

godmommy

Not that picture. ↑

This picture. ↓

godboys

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Filed under boys, conversations to remember, death, Harry, molar pregnancy, motherhood, religion