Three Years Ago Today

Gadget died, November 19, 2009.

Gadget lying on his front on a brown couch, his chin resting on a red quilt on Sharons knee. Sharon -- bundled in a turtleneck and hoodie -- has her hand on Gadgets neck and is smiling a little fixedly toward the camera.

Gadget and me in November of 2009

It was a week before Thanksgiving. We knew his death would come soon, but I had hoped he would hang on till after Thanksgiving. I wanted to be grateful for his presence. But the mast cell cancer raced through him, consumed him like a brush fire, destroyed him on the cellular level so that the pathologist couldn’t even be sure if he was looking at lymphoma cells or mast cells. We took our best guess, but it didn’t matter, because there was no halting it. Gadget was ready to die a week before the “holiday.”

In my former life, Thanksgiving and Passover had been my two favorite holidays, which I had celebrated with my two best friends every year since 1993. They had stopped speaking to me, so the holiday was also full of that loss.

My parents and Betsy’s mom came and tried to give us a normal Thanksgiving. I just wanted it to be over. I was a dull, relentless pain wrapped around hollowness. I couldn’t imagine ever feeling OK again, or normal, or happy.

A lot has changed since then. I still don’t really have anyone to celebrate holidays with. Those two former friends are still gone from my life, just as Gadget is. But I have Barnum. I am much less sick. I have projects I’m passionate about. Barnum has taken me on a completely different voyage than Gadget did. Thank dog.

I’m not overflowing with gratitude today, nor will I be this Thursday, I expect. The only way the day will be different is that my usual Thursday PCAs won’t be working, and a couple of other PCAs will work backup. Ah, there. Something I’m grateful for: The PCAs who are covering shifts on Thanksgiving.

The thing about anniversaries is that sometimes they sneak up on you and you don’t know what’s wrong till you’re sobbing with snot running down your face, crying in confusion, “What’s WRONG with me today?” And other times you anticipate the day with dread and then it passes, like a wave that had already pulled you out to sea, so by the time it crashed against the shore, you only felt the slight pull, the rise and fall.

I’ve been swimming in the tumultuous ocean for the last few weeks. One or more of my tick-borne diseases are acting up, causing worsened cognition, emotional disturbance, and migraines. This has made everything harder. I’ve been very triggered. Too many reminders of the season — of the onsets of my illnesses, of the trauma of natural disasters, of the losses of friends to death or … what is a neutral term for friends who have decided they don’t want to be your friend anymore? Anyway, a season of loss.

Fortunately, I’ve been very busy, and not too sick. I am in the midst of some exciting interviews for Ability Maine. I’m working on my book project very . . . very . . . very slowly. I’m trying to figure out what will go here: sharonwachsler.com. So, there are new beginnings.

But, for tonight, kindness and gentleness toward myself. If you learned anything from Gadget or loved anything about him, please post it in the comments or send me an email. If you’d like to light a (yartzheit?) candle in his memory, you can do it here.

– Sharon, Gadget — forever in my heart — and Barnum, blessedly healthy SD/SDiT

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8 Responses to “Three Years Ago Today”


  1. 1 fridawrites November 19, 2012 at 11:23 pm

    I love Gadget because he was a heart dog for you. I’m sorry his time with you was so short. Thank you for sharing him with us.

  2. 2 Ginger Lazarus November 19, 2012 at 11:49 pm

    Thinking of you, Sharon, and of Gadget’s sweet goofy face. ❤

  3. 3 Betty Burkett November 20, 2012 at 12:48 am

    Lighting a candle for you and Gadget, Sharon. Peace.

  4. 4 brilliantmindbrokenbody November 20, 2012 at 2:31 am

    I wish we could invite you for Thanksgiving. Damn laundromat toxicity.

  5. 5 Laura November 20, 2012 at 6:48 am

    Sharon, I am grateful for you. Grateful for your fire, insight, willingness to put yourself “out there” and your devotion to things that matter. Gadget was an amazing dog and is still your beacon of light and Barnum’s unseen guide. I am blessed to know you 🙂

  6. 6 Cyndy Otty November 30, 2012 at 8:14 am

    *hugs* (I’m a bit late since I was away and I was behind in blogs before that.)

  7. 7 Sharon Wachsler December 15, 2012 at 9:31 pm

    Fridawrites, Ginger, Bettty, Laura,
    Thank you so much for your kind words. It really helped to get these comments. I felt held with care. It’s taken me a while to respond to comments, but I wanted you to know I appreciate them.
    Kali, thanks for the invite. Betsy and I actually ended up having a nice time. She cooked some good food and we hung out in my room, and later watched a DVD on my computer. While we were eating, I played a youtube of a fire in a fireplace, so that was pretty funny. (I posted the pic on the After Gadget FB page.)


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