learning to navigate the world, j-bear style

Month: September 2015

A Love Letter

I sound like a broken record and for that, I am sorry. This is grief and I have no sense of closure for this, not for myself and especially not for my son. My words and writing are all I have, so I hope you will bear with me. I hope this will be the last post like this for a while. – N

I wrote a post the day we met Brooklyn. You can read it here. I wrote about her overwhelmingly sweet, loving nature. I did not write more than that really because pictures taken by a dear friend told the story far better than my meager words could have hoped to.

My dear Brookie Cookie,

I cannot believe you are never coming home. I cannot believe that I will never see your face again, hear your tail thump against the floor, feel your cold nose nuzzling me awake. There will be no more morning, afternoon and evening walks. There will be no long chats as we did this or that.

Worse, there will be no sight of the beautiful language you spoke with your boy. People fret when they get a service dog for their child, especially a child like J. They worry that a bond will never occur. You eliminated that worry before we even came home. Your boy showed you that which was most precious to him and you learned, fast, to respect that. You learned that his touches on your tail, nose and ears all meant something. What? I have no idea, but you knew. He knew. You read him even better than me, his own mother, could. You could tell when to give him space or when to push up in his face and make him pay you mind rather than pay mind to that which troubled him. You overcame your lack of desire to give kisses to taste whatever crumbs graced his fingers or his cheeks. You laid close by him when he was shut down and waited until he was ready to engage again, leaving a paw within reach just in case he needed it. You played ball, gifted high-fives and loved him without question or qualification.

Until you, he could not walk through a store. You made it possible.

Until you, a baseball game was out of the question. You made it possible.

Until you, going to school was a battle. You made it possible.

Until you, his vision was unclear and unable to be diagnosed because the exam terrified him. You made it possible.

Until you, we had no peace and only a glimmer of hope. You turned our lives around.

There is no way in this world I could not love you as much as I love my sweet boy. You are a part of his heart and therefore, a part of my own. I would spend all those hours cooking you special meals and hand mixing your food and specially cleaning up after you all over again without question because it is for you and for him. I would walk on fire for you, Brookie. I hope you never, ever forget a home that loved you so deeply as ours. I hope you carry your purple teddy with you wherever you go and no one EVER takes that away from you. That was chosen special for you by a little boy who will never forget you, ever. You will be in the face of every golden he ever meets from now on and that teddy was his way of sharing with you his love of having a special cuddly toy without you getting into trouble.

You will always be in our hearts and we will always be here for you. I can’t accept that this is goodbye. I have to think that some day we will all see you again, even if we have to wait until heaven to do so.

With all my heart,



I didn’t know how to tell him.

How do you tell a child something so abstract, especially when said child works solely in concrete terms. If he cannot see it, feel it, smell it, taste it, chase it… If he cannot physically experience what you are discussing the subject can be very hard for him. He experiences the world with his whole body and yet, here I was having to explain something that would touch only his heart.

a stuffed golden retriever wearing a crocheted red service vest

little missie b

After she left, J and I went to Build-a-Bear Workshop. He chose a golden retriever to stuff and she came in a cardboard dog house. She has her own food bowl, her own leash, so it was like caring for his girl while his girl was gone. A young lady knit pretend SD vests for stuffed animals and we bought one from her fundraiser. It fit this stuffed animal well. He was excited that his little version had a “jama”, short for “pajama”, which is what he called her working vest. Now she really was a little version of his best friend.

Last night, as J and I were sitting in the bed, I tried to gently talk to him about this big change. This sad news. My words were heard, that I know, but it will take time for him to process. We pet his stuffed golden, who proudly still wore her “jama”, and I carefully took the “jama” off. I told him she never has to work anymore, she can just play now. He hugged her tight and though he watched me put the play vest away, he let me do so.

He knows. The crack in my heart will never be right, seeing that.

Miss Kitty has been working overtime this summer. His beloved black and white stuffed cat along with a few other choice stuffed animals and the little stuffed golden are hollow substitutes for a best friend but he is trying. Every day, he is battling. It is gut wrenching to watch a child fight to feel safe, comfortable, relaxed and at peace. I need to chase his peace with all I have within me. If his mother cannot find him hope and calm, who can?

I am not sure how else to start or say this.

Brooklyn is no longer a member of our family. She will not be returning to us.

J is slated to meet a new dog in July 2016.

The depths of emotions surrounding this are hard to describe. I beg of you all to exercise restraint in any comments you might make on this subject. It is hard for me to avoid feeling like I have let not just my poor son down but you all as well. So many of you supported not just him meeting her, but getting us from Boston to Ohio. I am so, so sorry it has come to this. I’ll write more when I can.

Candle in a Hurricane

It has been a long, hard summer.

The problems started in the spring. Brooklyn got so sick, then on June 14th she returned to 4 Paws for Ability. She is still there today. The turmoil that caused for J is powerful. He has been extremely aware of where I am and what I am doing since then, allowing no other to put him to bed unless I am physically not there… and even then, it is only when he is at his grandparents that it is allowed. He is stressed about routine changes and about things he trusts to be there just not being there. There are not words said to express this, it manifests in near all he does.

Now, the start of kindergarten presents more changes and challenges. This, the uncertainty about what will happen with Brooklyn, the fact he is getting his 6 year molars early and all that fun stuff has combined into a perfect storm. I am fighting to not just keep my own candle lit in a hurricane but to also keep his from burning all around him. His pain turns into meltdowns. His fear turns into meltdowns. His heartache is loud, gut wrenching and soul ripping to witness.

The whole time it takes all that I have within me to just tell him I am here, that I love him, that I will always be there for him and that we will be okay somehow. This is not the person he is. This is not the charming, adventurous, sweet, compassionate, gentle and caring little boy talking. This is anguish talking; fear and anger and sorrow and confusion all meshed together into this horrible wretched beast that plagues him without relief. His world as he knew it was upended, and it continues changing, and the work we do to warn and prepare him only goes so far when one has a taste of loss in their mouth.

I try not to talk about meltdowns a lot because how fair is that of me to do so? I do not photograph them. I do not video them*. I do not record them because “that’s real”. Those are his lowest points… I would never want someone transcribing every detail of my worst moments, I can’t do that to him. Yet, here I am, acknowledging they do happen and that we are struggling and struggling hard right now. It does not help that he caught a back to school bug either, but that’s honestly the least of his worries.

Every morning though I wake up to him being eager to hug and letting me know that my little boy is right there, ready to try again with the new day before him. He tries, so I try too. There may be more upsets to his apple cart in the near future but, all things willing, we will finally get him to a calmer, more comfortable place very very very soon. I apologize for being vague, the moment I have concrete facts I’ll happily share them as I always do.

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