Me & My Shadow

Always finding the crook

One year ago today, my sweet little Casey had to be put down because lung cancer had suddenly filled his chest, robbing him of breath and comfort. One year ago (and it was on a Sunday), I was milling around the arts booths at Adam’s Morgan Day with some friends, enjoying the weather, the sights, the sounds, the happiness — when life changed, and instead of being happy, I was devastated.

Yesterday was Adam’s Morgan Day. Every mention of the festival, every time I hear the words, I cringe inside. I think of that moment, that exact moment my mom’s voice on the other end of the line told me Casey was gone. Every time I hang out in Adam’s Morgan, which is not that often given I live and work near it, I get a funny feeling. I immediately remember that day, I remember the pain ripping through me, the world spinning away, numbly being put into a cab and sent home alone, to cradle my stuffed corgi instead of the real one who was like a brother.

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These things are the wonderful things…

…we’ll remember all through our lives.

First, Casey's turn...

So goes a verse in the Carpenters’ Christmas classic, “Sleigh Ride.” This song will be playing while my parents and I drag up the big plastic containers with red and green lids from the basement that snugly hold our universe of Christmas decorations. We’ll pick and choose from the bins which knicknacks we want to place around the house and which ones we don’t feel like dealing with, and slowly begin to unwrap each of the dozens of ornaments from their boxes and paper towel wrappings and bubble wrap. We’ll marvel over the ornaments that have made it 20 years or more, over the handmade pieces I created in school as a child, and the still wonderful, potent smell from the clove ball all these years later.

Harrison will circle around us, sniffing everything. We’ll remember when Casey used to try to distract us with a toy. Dad will come at the very end, to hang his favorite ornaments and to lift me on his shoulders to place the angel on top of the tree. Then we’ll switch on the string of lights… and all will be well and wonderful in the world.

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25 birthdays

IMG_6697At this very moment, I’m celebrating my 25th birthday in Germany with my mom, probably drinking fabulous beer (bier) out of a stein. But I prepared in advance a little snapshot of my birthday memories from over the years – here’s a trip down memory lane through 25 of my favorite moments from 25 years and 25 birthdays.

1.  White cake with lemon filling. Always had it for my birthday, still love it. I think it’s a southern thing because most of my friends in Ohio had never had it until my mom made it (complete with the top layer sliding off one year).
2.  My fifth birthday – the first time I received a gift from my Dad – a pair of ruby slippers. He already knew of my love affair with The Wizard of Oz. Also the year the cake had a Wizard of Oz theme on it.
3.  The creation of my “other birthday” on July 3, 2001: the day I was officially adopted by my Dad and became Jenna Sauber.
4.  My 7th birthday. My parents got me a dictionary and origami. I still have the dictionary – one of the best gifts I have ever received.
5.  My 18th birthday: my aunt and uncle drove up from Louisiana to surprise me. I got of the bus, saw the beloved (and now gone) black Jeep Grand Cherokee in the driveway and almost broke down the door to get inside.
6.  My 21st birthday: a weekend-long experience (perfect for college and that monumental age!) that included dinner with my parents, a night out with close friends, and a party thrown for me on the final night.
7.  My 2nd birthday: I don’t remember it, but a video tape shows me screaming and crying when I was given a giant stuffed bear. Hilarious to watch now. Maybe it had to do with who it came from…I won’t go there.
8.  My 11th birthday: My golden birthday. I probably was still getting the day off of school back then. Mom gave me a golden charm with 11th birthday on it, that her sister had given to her on her 11th birthday. (Same aunt from #5)
9.  My 22nd birthday when my boyfriend Dan threw me a surprise party at his apartment after a nice dinner out. And then he gave me perfume and these awesome Texas Longhorn shorts.
10. My 24th birthday: my parents sent me a giant box filled with stuff from my Amazon wish list – it literally arrived on my birthday. What more could a girl ask for than a DVD box sets of Sinatra and Poitier movies, and a bunch of books?
11. Possibly my 11th birthday again: I got my first computer, and a new desk to put it on. I remember coming home from the grocery store with mom and my dad sitting in my room grinning, waiting for me to walk in. The screensaver said “Happy birthday and Merry Christmas!!” My first program installations were Creative Writer and Operation Neptune.

Enough birthday memories…I’m running low on memory…on to other lovely memories over the years…

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Thanks for the memories

Older pictures 004On Sunday, I wrote about the passing of my dog, Casey, in the immediate aftermath of it. My emotions were raw, my denial firm, my tears spilling onto the keyboard as I tried to cram every possible memory of him into a post to show how I felt about this immense loss.

It’s two days later, and I’m still sad, still crying at times. Still choking up when someone, as so many people have, say kind words about him. “I’m sorry for your loss,” they say. “It must be tough,” they say. “At least he’s no longer in pain,” some say. “You gave him a happy life,” they all say.

I can’t believe it, is what my parents and I say. He can’t really be gone, we say. Where did we go wrong? we ask ourselves. Why so early, why Casey? we ask God, the vet, each other, anyone. You don’t get it, we think to ourselves. You didn’t know Casey. You didn’t see his big beautiful eyes pour into your soul, understand you, need you, love you with every ounce of his cuddly, little being. You didn’t hear his “Arf! Arf!” as you opened the garage door, or hear his click clack of nails on the floor as he came running to dinner, or looking for you as you played hide and seek.

Many people have read my first post. And yesterday and today, and tonight talking with my Dad, I remember so many more memories of Casey. I remember even more nicknames (is that possible?) that we had for him. I come across more pictures and love that he was most content lying on his back or cuddling with us in a chair or napping on the couch.

I remembered today that we also called him JB – Jealous Boy – because whenever Harrison was being touched, or given attention, Casey needed it, too. Oh, Harrison was the same way – you couldn’t play with Casey without Harrison coming over and barking or whining or rolling on the floor to get attention, but Casey had this special way – you couldn’t ignore it. He would nuzzle right up to you under your hand, so you HAD to pet him. And you couldn’t just pet him once and be done with it. You had to keep petting him, petting him, until he was satisfied. Sometimes it took awhile. If Harrison jumped on your lap, Casey had to jump on your lap. He was a JB, plain and simple. But we loved it.

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Good night, Ceeter Cotter

Puppies2This afternoon, I was in the midst of a sunny, warm outing to the Adam’s Morgan Day Festival with a couple of friends, when I got a call from my mom – and immediately knew something was wrong. “Casey’s gone,” she said. My world stopped. Casey, my little tri-colored corgi, “Ceeter Cotter,” as we nicknamed him – was gone.

The world around me kept moving. People were laughing with their friends, admiring art from the vendors, petting their dogs. A violinist was playing next to me. My head was swimming though, as I was looking desperately for the friends I came with, trying to comprehend that my 11-year old “brother” suddenly had to be put to sleep today because he could barely breathe from tumors that had clogged up his lungs.

A couple days ago, he was fine.

caseyI’ve cried a lot today. I cried all the way home in the cab while on the phone with my mom, in denial that Casey boy won’t be there to greet me when I get home at Thanksgiving and Christmas. I cried on the phone to my boyfriend, to my best friend since 7th grade, to a colleague. I cried to myself in bed, clutching my stuffed animal Casey, the one that also doesn’t breathe like the real one no longer does.

And now, because I’m utterly at a loss of what else I should be doing, I’m writing. And crying as I write this. This is my way – I need to get it out of the way, so that I don’t have to pretend I’m happy and perky for a few days. So that whoever reads this just knows, and knows that I’m not going to be myself for a little while, because I just lost a huge part of me.

Anyone that knows me, knows how important my dogs are to me. If you’ve seen the dozen or more pictures pinned to my cube walls, if you’ve heard me talk about “The Boys.”  As an only child, they really have been my brothers through their 11 years. After losing my first dog Rocky, when I was 13, we got Harrison, a puppy, and then Casey a year later. They’re brothers.

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