Lord Have Mercy

…a little nibble as we turn toward the school year… in case you are wondering…. rose and her mom are not real… they are manifestations of a mom's anxiety… metaphors per se….manufactured scapegoats... (as far as you know. wink. wink.)  

If not for the 3-d Ultrasound warning me of this inevitable truth, I would not have believed it could be true. In the world of Maeve, I am a foreigner in a foreign land. Wild and beautiful, dangerous and unpredictable. Jesus, it has been this way from the very beginning.

What do I do with this disarming child and her tiny feet nestled in the bend of my waist? Fast to her slow, rigid to her softening folds.

‘It feels good to be cozy,’ she says.

‘Yes, but its noon.’

‘I like being naked.’

‘Me too, but not during the day, in public.’

‘Butter is my favorite food.’

‘Butter is not a food.’

‘Please Maeve,’ I beg, ‘Just this once…?

Tender and cruel, she is like escargot without pretention. More like steamed oysters perhaps. If you work, you can have a taste, but it’ll cost you.  

Street angel, house devil. A tyrant. A pistol.

A          spicy               little                 nugget.

She can raise hell in God’s pocket, they say.

But I’m not God, and this girl gets in my pocket every morning just as her feet hit the floor and I hear her little patter-stomps marching down each step. ‘Here she comes,’ I mumble. Strategizing with nimble and sophisticated, high-level thinking, I AM Jason Bourne. Best get moving if we hope to get there on time. So when she catapults her little body up and over mine, and rips the pillow out from under my head to ‘cozy up,’ I know it’s going to cost me.

I’ll never get her out of here.

She worries about animals and her friends, and this makes me worry about her. So I let her perseverate; tree frogs and deforestation, puppies that didn’t make it, lonely horses, and of course Becky and Rose and Ellie who don’t say nice things. So maybe Mom, we could get a puppy, or a horse. or even a frog? I’m not sure she’s taken a breath in all of this, so I just lay beside her with my eyes closed and rub her little belly.

Let’s be honest, Rose is a nightmare, just like her mother.

Will she be okay? Why is she not more confident? Will she find a passion? Will someone break her heart? Maybe I should buy her a puppy. Good gracious, these curves.  

Now we are on to the injustice of her brother, and I always tune this part out. Life’s not fair, and the cookie looked even to me. I wish she would just-stop-talking, but she is beautiful in this moment of incessant complaint. Her floppy short brown hair covering one of her eyes, snaggle-toothed, ranting now with one hand under her cheek on the pillow and the other flapping mid-air for argument’s sake. ‘Are you even listening?’ Around her mouth is a rim of red-chapped skin, and I reach to touch her full-cherry lips. My lips are so thin.

As she bats my finger out of her way and I say, ‘Lord have mercy, what am I going to do with you?’

The Silver Fox

Six foot five inches of silver-topped ‘YES I CAN’ sauntered into the operating room. While I would have appreciated a wink or an acknowledgement of any sort through the transition, he did manage to direct his competent nurse with a nod, whisk out sutures, and make a joke to my physician husband in one fell swoop. ‘Thank GOD,’ I whispered. This man could single handedly suture the chasm between Putin and Obama.

 Just hours before, our beloved greyhound had ‘accidently’ pawed a perfect little face to pieces, and somewhere between scooping her up, and waiting for help, I’d lost hope. The Children’s Emergency Room tends to lean that way. Toward hopeless. Especially when the computer system is down.

 So after a very long wait, Rob scoured the hospital for a ‘Plastics Guy.’ When the Silver Fox came in, I prayed to myself, like this, ‘Thank you Jesus. Thank GOD for a man who looks like that. Walks like that. Acts like that.’

 I relied 100% on his confidence.

 ‘Thank you JESUS for sending me someone who may very well BE…. Jesus.  A very good looking, older and wiser. JESUS.’ 

 Then I waited until our 7 year old was dreaming of unicorns riding roller coasters and promptly went outside to sob.

 A week later during our post-op visit, the aforementioned Silver Fox marveled his own handy work, and causally stated, ‘I did not expect this reattachment to have adhered. I was on the fence about trying.”

 The Silver Fox had been on the fence? I almost threw up.

 In the depths of emotional turmoil, I squeaked, ‘Thanks for keeping that part to yourself.’

 We began to heal. Cheeks and eyes and smiles…all seemed good on the outside. But in time, we knew our household would need a different ending to this story. As first grade was coming to an end, we realized it could not be left as, ‘the year my doggie hit my eyebrow off, on accident(we think).’

 Monday a nightmare. Tuesday a doctor’s appointment to check scars. Wednesday a hysterical breakdown for having seen a dog. Thursday, I took matters into my own hands. A stealth campaign to seek and purchase a puppy so harmless and cute little girls and old ladies alike would stop dead in their tracks. Hallmark would be calling. Tiny sweaters, pink collars, little bows… we were going to pull out all the stops. On the fence, my ass. If silver fox could do it, so could I.

We found one in Baltimore. Seems I am the only person on the eastern seaboard that has no real interest in yippers, because unless we wanted to wait for 18 months and pay thousands of dollars, we had to drive eight hours and claim our puppy before someone else did. 2.5 pounds of furry, hypoallergenic, fury, waited in the arms of a creepy breeder with questionable intent. Friday we pulled the kids out of school, loaded the minivan and drove eight hours north. A Morkie the kids named, Fay. That’s right. A MORK-ie.

 Speaking of minivans. Like you, I was never going to own a minivan.  But somewhere at the corner of desperation and indignation, it just happens.

Fay is the minivan of dogs, but way cuter. A faithful member of the family, she is carried on the hip of a fearless and joyful 8 year old. Yes, I was on the fence, as long as the decision had anything to do with me. She was worth my pride,  plus, she just gets the job done. Practical and efficient: small dog, small food, small toys, small bed, small poop, and small yips. No bows, no sweaters, nothing pink. She’s too cool for all that, especially when she’s driving through town in her minivan on our way to the church. If only she had a key fob. 

King Grief- 2014

When Rob and I told the children on Christmas day that we would welcome a new dog, King, into the family, our 6-year old daughter jumped up and down for 5 minutes straight. Our stoic 8-year old son literally teared-up with joy. We videoed the entire thing. A 4-year old brindle greyhound, hand picked for his gentle spirit and easy way, he was perfect for our family. Mainly, he is a rug trapped in a very large dog’s body.  

I swore I would never get a dog.  However, ‘never’ is a word spoken only by fools. Secretly King was hand picked for ME. I had not expected to love him so much. Silly dog people with their dog pictures and dog stories, I never understood them. Seriously. They shed. They drool. They poop. King did all those things.  But when I was alone, he would quietly find me and place his long snout on my shoulder. Then I knew I had an ally against life itself.  He was my ‘souldog.’ 

Joe’s new years resolution was to take care of King.  Maeve talked to him with a baby voice. Rob walked him, as they fought over who got to hold the leash. We bought him toys and treats and a big red coat. I took selfies with my dog.

Two weeks ago, our daughter was gently rubbing King on the head, when the doorbell rang. In an effort to pull his over-raced, arthritic, 70-pound body to standing, he pawed her. He actually scraped one eyebrow right off her face and injured the rest of it badly. In disbelief, for 48 hours we thought King had bitten her. Horrified. Betrayed. Devastated. Confused. King went back to his foster home, as we waited to see if our daughter had suffered extreme and permanent damage to her eye and face.

With earnest and innocent intent, Maeve bounced back both emotionally and physically. “Mom, my scar is so cool, it's a perfect circle.”

Joe quickly declared he was ‘over it,’ and refused to discuss the matter any further. We know he’s not over it, but we also know he understands and is fairing very well.


Their parents are still recovering. I’m still mad. Not at King, but at the whole thing. The range of emotions was broad. Even knowing our daughter was ultimately fine, the trauma left us vulnerable, dependent, angry, grateful, exhausted, and disoriented. So, we relied on the words and care of close friends and community as signs of God’s true grace. Without them, we would have been left on empty. The truest just reach out without expectation or even permission.

Now on the other side of it, Maeve proclaims everyday from the back seat of our car that she wishes King would be waiting for us when we get home from school.  Each time I reply, “I know baby, me too. We miss him.”

And every day Joe says, “I’m over it.”

Last Tuesday was different.

“Mommy, don’t you wish King would be home when we got there?”

“Yes baby I do, but he is happy in his foster home, and we would feel nervous if he came back to live with us.”

Joe reminds her, “He gets to sleep on a couch where he is Maeve.”

Sweet and soft she inquires,  “Mommy, (long pause for dramatic effect…)

 When can we get a new little fluffy puppy?”

Nice move little one.

She knows her opponent well (long pause for maternal strategic planning…).



I think to myself several things like this: ‘When hell freezes over.’ ‘When you are 30.’


But she is 6 and I am well…older, and smarter and more manipulative. Plus, I know better than to say ‘never’ because I really don’t want a tiny, yappy, rat running around my house.

Honestly, I just want King. King who pawed my daughter’s face off and brought her parents to their knees. “I don’t know honey,” I say, “I think we need to be still for a little while. Do you feel sad in your heart?”

“Yes,” she says as Joe peers out the window.

“Well, so do I… When your heart feels like it has a hole in it, because you have lost someone you love, it’s called grief. Do you know that word?”


Looking at Joe through the rearview mirror I press, “Have you heard of grief Joe?”

“No, but I’m fine.”

Deep sigh. “Yes I know you are fine but my heart still has a hole. Even though King is happy where he is, and we are healing, I am still a sad. We need more time for our holes to heal. Then we will be ready to keep King in our hearts, and also love another dog.”

Maeve is doing the math. “How long Mom? Like one week or when I’m 7?”

Joe finally admits, “Two years Maeve, I want two years.”

I think to myself, ‘Me too Buddy.’