Wow, I cannot believe that it has been two years. Two years since my son Brad and I headed out across the country with our four dogs. Jessie, who was almost 16, Tilley at 15, Luke 11 and little Miss Elsa who was only 4.5 months old. Honestly, what was I thinking? Both Jessie and Tilley were incontinent; they had been for some time. Jessie was suffering from dementia which had gotten so much worse in the months prior to our trip. Tilley was still feeling the effects from her Vestibular but was doing pretty good. Luke was fine, much younger than he is now and Elsa, well she was just amazing.
The day we left started early and we were off on our big adventure. Little did I know at the time that we would arrive at our destination with only three dogs. Only a few weeks after that we would also lose Tilley from an inoperable mass on her spleen. It was a time of great sadness and much turmoil in my life. A time that I look back on and see only darkness; although like everything else in life it has contributed to who I am today. In a matter of four short weeks; so many lessons were learned. Life lessons that, if given a choice to experience; you would opt out of. No thank you, no one wants these type of life experiences. But we all must go through them, it is life itself.
There was a light, a glimmer that was Elsa; our little ray of sunshine in all the darkness of that time. To this day I believe that she could not have arrived at a more perfect point in our life; she helped us all through a lot at such a young age. Life goes on and I had a very young pup that needed my attention; that in itself was a great help for me. Luke needed her more than he would ever know and the rest of the family needed her crazy antics that only a puppy can deliver.
Thinking back to the trip we made and the experiences that we dealt with, leaves me shaking my head. I do think about it often; it was a monumental time in my life, very much a turning point. In the beginning, as the trip started to form into a plan; it seemed like an adventure. Surely it would be tough but we could do it; we would just do it, get'r done as they say. I was not flying my dogs so it was the only option and Brad would be with me to live through it all, and that he did. He was my pillar to lean on; solid and strong. He gave me strength when I thought that it all might just beat me.
Aside from the many things that I learned in the beginning, during and at the completion of the trip; I feel lucky to have done it in some way. I would never choose to drive across the country with four dogs; two who were well beyond their golden years. We were sort of forced to do it; so by the pure need, we experienced something that not too many people do. A trip across the country; Mother and son with four dogs and a crazy amount of emotional crap along with it.
We don't talk about the trip very often; but every once in a while I'll ask "remember when?" We will share a moment of head shaking and then move on quickly to a better time. Life is all about learning; if you don't learn from walking through it, there's not much point. What started out as a necessity was going to be a photography book in the making. Things changed and it turned into a novel (PBJ and me) with another on the way. It was also the beginning idea for a Traveling with Your Dog book. Life can suck, it can be glorious but without walking through it all; experiencing the good, the bad and the ugly, we'll never grow.