I decided a couple of weeks ago I would recap Russ’ and my year in words and photos. The beginning of a new tradition for us, after one year of marriage, as we forge ahead together in our lives. My hope is this will allow us to savor the great memories we made once again and create a timeline of our journey so far.
However, I can’t really recap 2019 without thinking about my biggest loss from 2018—Cracker. It’s been one year exactly, November 29th, since he left this world…since he left my world.
Not a day goes by that I don’t think about him.
Cracker got so sick before Thanksgiving last year. An innocuous lump quickly became a Mast Cell tumor. We started him on a serious line-up of medication, but it made him nauseous. He went from already feeling bad from the large tumor, to throwing up anything he tried to eat, on top of that.
I’m sure in its infancy, the tumor was nestled comfortably in his lymph nodes, quiet and undetected. Then one day there was an egg on the side of his neck. Within days of that, I took him to the vet to biopsy it. Little did I know, lancing it would absolutely piss it off beyond belief. In retaliation, the egg puffed out like a giant floret of cauliflower, encompassing almost the entire right side of his neck, including under his throat. It was then I watched him start to really struggle to breathe.
I held out hope the sickness would somehow even out, and he would acclimate to the medication, and more precisely, the tumor would agree to share space…just for a little while. There were a few just good-enough days to hold onto hope, to not give up, to put off admitting the truth of things.
I was coming home from work every day at lunchtime to walk Cracker and to check on him. When I walked home on November 29, 2018, I knew. He was sleeping and struggling to breath at the same time.
I knew it was the day we said good-bye to each other.
My heart was shattered.
Russ was upset he wasn’t in DC when it happened. As I said to him later that evening over the phone, “It was just me and Cracker in the beginning, and it was just the two of us at the end. I think this was how it was supposed to be–just the two of us. It was my job to shepherd him out of this world. After all, he had spent his entire life by my side, guiding me along, each and every day, as if it were his sworn duty to do so.”
It was my humble honor to serve him on the day when he needed it most.
Cracker left a huge void in 2019, but my heart is full of the love and memories only a great dog provides so selflessly over a lifetime.
It’s been a year, my friend, but you sure are still sorely missed, my darling Cracker.
AND NOW, A YEAR IN PHOTOS.
The Winter Classic, South Bend, Indiana
The government shutdown continues. Russ and I almost couldn’t get married. Luckily, the mayor opened up an admnistrative office for marriage licenses.
Russ and I did get married, despite the longest shutdown in US Government history.
We celebrated in DC with family and friends. It was a great night with great people.
Hiking at Great Falls State Park
Friends, baby sheep and skiing in New Hampshire. It was a great trip, but I got sick the night before flying home. I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to get on the plane to go home the next morning!
My mom and brother came to DC for a baby shower and got the grand tour of the Cherry Blossoms while here. The Spring is a beautiful time of year in the city.
Celebrating Easter at the Inn at Little Washington.
I went home to Houston for my niece’s graduation party, but didn’t make it. We ended up taking my dad to ER instead. It was a scary time. I did, however, get to see the Van Gogh exhibit at the Museum of Fine Art Houston while there.
(My) birthday brunch at the Ashby Inn.
A quick stop at The Bellagio in Vegas.
My surgery. Eight weeks of pain and a purple haze.
Lots of writing. Amazing what you can accomplish when you have the time, even on pain killers.
I went back to Houston to check on my parents. It was a little soon post-surgery to be making a trip, but it all worked out. First stop from the airport after an early morning flight is always Denny’s!
The US National Arboretum. What a national treasure!
Celebrating the end of summer with good friends, food, and a very shameless cat.
We visited the fabulous Baltimore Museum of Art, the Baltimore Aquarium, and Fells Point.
We visited Fort McHenry at exactly the right time to be a part of the changing of the flag.
Remembering 9/11. Never forget.
Annual corporate outing at King’s Dominion. I learned something new about my husband. He’s a maniac.
A quick trip to New York. I took the 7 a.m. train out of DC, landed and visited the Whitney before catching To Kill a Mockingbird, and later, Dear Evan Hansen. I took the 3 a.m. train home.
A gorgeous day of running in a race for the first time in a year, and drinking beer at a couple of local breweries after to celebrate.
Hiking Old Rag for the fourth time and visiting Graves Mountain Harvest Festival for the first time.
Home to celebrate Dad’s 84th birthday.
A weekend spent enjoying the museums and culture in my backyard. The Portrait Gallery and the Hirshhorn never disappoint. They are stunning.
Visited the brand-new REACH campus at The Kennedy Center.
RIP, Joey. Not many horses find their face on a commercial brochure. You were one of the very best.
Christmas is starting to appear in DC.
Another fabulous Thanksgiving with family and friends in Pennsylvania. A small holiday parade to kick off the season, complete with tractors covered in lights!
November 29, 2018:
Celebrating the holidays with great friends.
A fun week of holiday festivities in DC, including watching a great game of hockey.
Seeing Andrea Bocelli live in DC was incredibly special.