Some anniversaries just suck ass.

Friday, May 6th, 2016

It was three years ago today that we had to start saying our goodbyes to Ralphie. He was in renal failure and, after several days in the hospital, wasn’t showing any signs of improvement … we were able to give him a few awesome last days, at least, filled with treats and tummy rubs and afternoons sunbathing at the park. He was tired but happy, and basked in the attention we lavished on him. He died at home, three days later, on my 35th birthday.

Two days later we found out that Kaylee was sick too; also from renal failure, in a crazy-making coincidence. She passed away a few weeks later, on May 21st. It was a surprise – she had a stroke and lapsed into a coma – but also not, because though we were treating her, or trying to anyway, it was a struggle. I wish Kaylee’s last days had been as wonderful as Ralphie’s; she deserved that much, and more (so much more!). I try not to think of them too much.

It was two years later, to the very day, that we learned of Peedee’s relapse; that the cancer had stopped responding to the chemo and the best we could hope for was two good months, three if we were super-lucky. He lived six months and two days, almost all of them healthy (relatively speaking) and happy and spoiled rotten. God, how I miss his goofy smile and stupid pink tongue and soft, pink fur. His bark and excitability and spirit. His intellect and empathy. I could use his shoulder for a good cry right now, I tell you what.

I’ve been missing Kaylee and Ralphie and Peedee so, so much this week and month. I wish I could strike May from the calendar and never think of it again. But I can’t so instead I’m gonna watch this Heinz commercial on repeat because it makes me grin like a weirdo every time it plays on the tv. Also, standing in the receiving line of a wiener dog stampede is how I’d like to go out. (Though none of these guys is nearly as cute as my Ralphie Bear.) Someone make this happen please.

2011-02-21 - Dogs! - 0057

Book Review: Orphan Number Eight, Kim van Alkemade (2015)

Friday, August 7th, 2015

A Tense Psychological Thriller Tempered With a Heartrending Coming-of-Age Story

five out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free electronic ARC for review through Edelweiss. Trigger warning for rape and violence, including illicit human experimentation. Also, this review contains a plot summary with minor spoilers.)

The question sounded strange in the present tense. I used to think that orphaned was something I’d been as a child and since outgrown. It occurred to me, though, that was exactly how I’d been feeling all summer.

“I guess anyone alone in the world’s an orphan,” I said.

The year is 1918, and four-year-old Rachel Rabinowitz has just landed in the Infant Home, an orphanage for Jewish kids under the age of six in New York City. After her lying, cheating, rapist father accidentally kills her mother* and then runs from the police, Rachel and her brother Sam are effectively orphaned, taken in by the Jewish Children’s Agency. Two years her senior, Sam is sent to the Orphaned Hebrews Home.

The children are considered lucky, in a sense: funded by wealthy patrons, the Infant Home and Orphaned Hebrews Home are well-regarded. Whereas gentile kids in their position – and there are many, left penniless, homeless, and/or without a family to call their own by the twin terrors of the so-called Spanish Influenza and World War I – would be left to fend for themselves, Rachel and Sam get a roof over their heads, beds to call their own, three square meals a day – even an education.

(More below the fold…)

Book Review: The Milestone Tapes, Ashley Mackler-Paternostro (2012)

Friday, May 30th, 2014

The Long Goodbye

three out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free electronic copy of this book for review through Library Thing’s Member Giveaways program.)

Jenna Chamberland is tired of fighting. For the past three years, she’s battled the cancer growing inside her. A radical double mastectomy, chemo, radiation – none were enough to prevent the cancer from metastasizing, from traveling to her bones, her liver, her lungs and her brain. With the diagnosis of stage four cancer comes the promise of not if, but when: prolonging the battle will give Jenna a few extra months, at best; but there is no cure for the cancer riddling her body.

Faced with the inevitable, Jenna decides to discontinue treatment and enjoy what little time she has left: Mothering her six-year-old daughter Mia, for half of whose brief life Jenna has been ill; preparing her husband and best friend Gabe for what lies ahead; and reconnecting with her sister Sophia, from whom she’s been estranged since the loss of their own mother to breast cancer more than two decades ago.

The first half of The Milestone Tapes (“Book One”) concerns Jenna’s “long goodbye.” With six months to live, Jenna aims to make the most of them. She celebrates a seemingly endless parade of “lasts” with her family: her last excursion to a favorite vacation spot with Gabe; the last of Mia’s birthdays that they will celebrate together; the last Christmas she’s able to spoil the ones she loves.

(More below the fold…)

Peedee is trying to kill me.

Sunday, April 13th, 2014

(“It is a Toomah!”)

2014-03-31 - Peedee - 0026 [flickr]

A few weeks ago, Peedee’s annual senior wellness profile showed a slight elevation in his white blood cell count. An x-ray and a biopsy later, our regular vet confirmed that it was cancer, and not the infection we’d been hoping for. We were promptly referred to an oncologist south of the city, who ran more tests and recommended surgery to have the tumor removed.

His surgery was on Wednesday; luckily, they “only” removed the tumor and 20% of his left lung, vs. the tumor and two ribs we’d originally feared. (Our vet thought that the tumor was growing either on his rib bones – an osteosarcoma, which is very, very bad! – or on the connective tissue between the bones – an chondrosarcoma, which is slightly less bad. Really it was growing on the outside of his lung. This particular type of cancer only accounts for 1% of all lung cancers. Peedee, my special snowflake!)

(More below the fold…)