Thursday, May 21, 2015

Snapshots in Time

Over the course of Pig's life, there were so many moments that I actually paused and took a mental snapshot of the moment because it was so good. I knew I wanted to remember not only the fun and exciting times with him, but also the normal, the usual and mundane. And I'm so happy that I was aware enough to pause and memorize.

On the day that I went to pick out my new best friend, I drove the 40 minute trek with my mind set on picking up a little girl. There was a litter of about 5-6 toy poodles and all but one were boys. I was so glad to have found my girl that I had been looking for for months. Once we arrived to the breeder, I sat on the floor and scooped up my girl. She was white, fluffy and after a few minutes, she drove me nuts with her neediness. Out of the corner of my eye I saw him. Ever so slightly, I saw something move in the distance and there he was, in all his tiny glory. My pig was playing all by himself, completely unimpressed by me and in that moment I just knew. He was the one. The rest was history.

I can still remember clear as day one regular ole Saturday afternoon, Piggy and I laying on the couch mid-afternoon as the sun shone through the windows and a breeze rolled in through the curtains. Pig was sound asleep on my chest and it was so calm and so peaceful that I memorized how he felt on me and how still the moment was. I didn't need anything else in the world in that moment but him. I felt a level of contentment that I had never felt before.

One of the funniest times with Pig actually happened in a shoe store on King Street in Charleston where I worked my first year out of college. Pig was tiny, maybe just a few months old, and I had an awesome boss who encouraged me to bring him in to work as the "shop dog". Our shop had just expanded, creating a giant circle walkway between two rooms. With a mother and daughter shopping for shoes, something caused Piggy to take notice of and approach the teen girl. And although he probably weighed no more than 3lbs, the said teen who was afraid of dogs, took off running from him in a giant circle between the two sides of the shop. Off she went screaming, with a tiny, harmless toy poodle playfully barking and chasing her heels. It was a hysterical game of cat and mouse. The girl thought Piggy was trying to attack and Piggy thought she was playing with him, both oblivious to the fact that me, my manager and the girl's mom were all trying to get one of them to stop running so we could end the racing fiasco. I can still remember laughing so hard that I feared I might pee my pants on the job, while yelling "He's not trying to bite you! He thinks you're playing with him. You have to stop running so we can catch him!! STTTTOOOOPPPPPP Ruuuunnniiinnngggg!" It was priceless. Needless to say they did not purchase any shoes that afternoon, but Pig thought it was the best day ever on the job.

A few smaller memories simply revolve around heading to the airport for vacations and not 30 minutes into the drive, I'd turn to Tim and confess that I "already missed Pig." Even though we hadn't left yet, I missed him. We'd still be less than 60 miles from home and I'd be excited for our return when I could see him again. I always loved seeing him after being away.

Another snapshot in time was taking Piggy sledding over the last two winters. This dog loved to sled down the driveway. He'd hop right in and onto my lap, the Hubs would give us a big push, and down the drive we'd go. Once we reached the bottom, he'd hop out and race me to the top with his ears flapping in the wind. The minute I'd sit back down, he'd hop right back in for another ride. Silly, Pig.

While 8 weeks pregnant, I came down with the flu and was bedridden for almost a week straight while unable to take anything to gain relief. Pig never left my side. He was like a warm, little blanket and I remember looking over at him and being so very thankful for his companionship that week while I was in quarantine and alone.

As cheesy as the next snapshot is and at the risk of sounding like a crazy dog lady, this memory came about on another random afternoon about a year and a half ago. I was working around the house when Brad Paisley's song Then came on. As I sang along with the first few lines of the song, I remember looking down at Pig as happy, grateful tears ran down my face. I put down the towels I was putting away, got down on the floor and sang the rest of the song to him. To this day, it still is "our" song. I even changed some of the words whenever I'd sing it to him to incorporate his name...

"And now you're my whole life
Now you're my whole world
I just can't believe the way I feel about you, Pig.
Like a river meets the sea,
Stronger than it's ever been.
We've come so far since that day
And I thought I loved Pig then"

Lastly, on Pig's last morning, I knew he hadn't touched his food in 24 hours and I didn't want him to starve if they'd keep him in the hospital all day. Being the good momma I tried to be, I asked the Hubs to whip up a quick egg for our sweet boy so that he'd have a full tummy for whatever lay ahead of him. So on his last morning at home, he had his very own egg all to himself, cooked just for him with love from his dad, and he got to eat it off of his own "real boy" plate. I know he had to feel super special in that moment. Hubs, thanks for not questioning if you had time to cook an egg for our dog as you tried to get yourself ready for work. It means so much to me and I know it made our little man feel like a king. Without truly knowing, we gave our boy a warm, tasty and deserving send off. Thank you.

Piggy, thanks for these memories and so, so many more. We love you so.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


Yesterday was a hard post to write. I second guessed making it public in case it was too raw, too real, and too honest. But that's just what it was...honest. I needed to say those things to him and through that post, I did just that. They've been said. They are done. Hopefully.

Today I simply want to thank those people who have spoken life into the situation. Thanks to your hugs, your tears of compassion and shared hurt, your calls and texts, your cards, a prepared meal, a plant, muffins, FB messages, blog comments, etc...You have helped share in this moment and at times, helped alleviate some of the pain. Thank you.

Thank you for understanding our hurt and shock.

Thanks for loving Pig so much.

Thanks for sharing your memories of him.

Thanks for loving us so much.

Thanks for putting into words what my heart was feeling but didn't have the words to explain. As one friend shared "your bond with him was probably the strongest we will ever have with a dog because you got him at a time that was the most lonely and influx in our lives." Those words are so very true. I got Pig before I had my own home, before I had a solid career after college, and long before a husband and kids. I was 1,000 miles away from family and going through relationship ups and downs, losses and gains, lonliness, and trying to figure out what adulthood would look like for me. Pig was my constant. He was my "baby". He was my family and he rode the waves of change with me every single day. And although I may find myself with another pet someday, I will most likely never need another dog quite like I needed Pig.

Thank you to another sweet friend who sent me a profound message that read "I know Pig taught you what it means to love another more than yourself and that prepared you to love your little one so easily and seamlessly, so each time you feel that love in your heart, you can thank Pig for preparing the way and opening your heart more than you thought imaginable. Dogs also teach us what unconditional love is, which is something we humans have a hard time with, so thank Pig for showing you a glimpse of what that looked like before you knew what being a mother of a child was going to be like. I know God uses dogs to show us a tiny bit of how he loves us, and Pig will always represent that in your heart and life." I cannot verbalize how true her words are and how much I needed them at the exact moment I received them.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you all for loving us through this time. It is appreciated and needed more than you will ever know. Pig was lucky to know you and so am I.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Ugly Side of Grief and Loss

Per my post yesterday, today is the first part of my desperate attempt to try and figure how to do all of this without Piggy. As the week progresses, my plan and hope is to get all of the yuck out of my heart and mind early on so I can start to focus on the glory days and Pig's memory. But just as my small group from church goes every week, in order to share your highs, you must be willing to share your lows. And so with that, at the risk of being too transparent, I must try and get out of the bad and the ugly.

My purpose in this post is not to give these feelings life, but to get them down and out of my head. This blog, so many years ago, began as a way to deal with my battle with depression. A wise counselor suggested many years ago that I begin writing to take the swirl of negative thoughts from my head to paper and then to the trash. But because I'm not really a journal'er, I chose to go the blog route out of necessity and almost a mental survival technique at the time. Today's post falls in line with necessity and mental survival.

Over the last twelve years, I have envisioned how last Thursday would go. I knew in my heart of hearts that when the time came to make any hard decisions, I would choose to be humane, loving and present. PRESENT. I knew that no matter how painful, I would be there to hold my Pig as he left us. He would not go alone. He has never once allowed me to be alone in his presence and that would be my final thank you to him. We would be together. I knew everything I would say and I knew I would hold and kiss and comfort. I would give him permission to finally put himself first while I was the one to show unconditional love to him.

I did not get that chance. Not having that chance is what seems to be king of my heart right now. I cannot shake it. I cannot pray through it or ignore it. And I don't want it to grow and fester, so this is my attempt at taking it from mind to "paper" to trash.

Although there is no such thing as the pretty side of grief, I do believe there are million sides of healthy grief. The evil side of grief, however, is guilt. Guilt is a very real and tangible thing. It is not just an emotion, it's an ailment and has biological consequences such as actual pain and panic.

Not being there for my Pig has taken this moment, his ending, and taken it from "thank you's" to "I'm sorry's". I have loved this boy with every ounce of my heart. I have given him whatever I could to make his life cozy, loving and all that he deserves. And yet, when I think about him, all I can think is "I'm sorry." And I hate that. I've never hated those two words more in my life. Never. Those were not words I rehearsed a million times over the last 12 years as I prepared for this day. My words were full of thanks, gratitude, love, respect, compassion. Not I'm sorry. It never even crossed my mind. Not it crosses it roughly 100 times a day.

Piggy, I truly am sorry. I'm sorry I didn't know you were so sick. I'm sorry that all of the signs made me think you were simply struggling with not being an only child anymore and were mere old age behavior and decline. I'm sorry I didn't rush you in the night before because I feared they'd make you sleep there alone and you'd be scared and afraid and away from home when I thought you'd rest better with me. I'm sorry I thought we had time. I'm sorry your brother screamed all night while you were failing on the inside. I'm sorry for all the times that I got caught up in caring for Nash and only kissed you once that night instead of the 25 kisses you were used to. I'm sorry that I didn't ask to wait in the lobby while they treated you in the back. I'm so sorry I thought we had time. I should've never ran to buy Kleenex. I should've stayed, even if I couldn't sit with you. I should've sat there and waited. Damn it, why didn't I stay and wait?! I'm sorry that I could only hold your back paw the last time I saw you before they had me leave and await your update. I'm sorry that you started going on your own and I hit every blasted red light once I got the call to come back. I'm so sorry that I missed your departure by 3 minutes. Three freaking minutes. I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry you went alone. I'm so sorry I wasn't there to hold you and thank you repeatedly. I'm so very sorry. And I'm so sorry that you went in the front door of the hospital and they brought you out of the back door as we waited in the parking lot. I should've demanded that you come out of the front door. The door you came in. You deserved a front door departure just like every other animal. I'm just so sorry, sweet boy. I hate this. I want you back. I want you here with me. For even just 5 more minutes so that I could turn my I'm sorry's to the thank you's you so rightfully deserve. You deserved it all. You were "it all" and more. I love you. I'm sorry.

Monday, May 18, 2015

I Don't Know How To Do This

It's been awhile since I've had a spare second to sit down and blog. My apologies if you're a loyal reader and have checked back to find zero, zilch, nada from me. Life has been slammed lately and finding the time to stop and be creative for a moment was just not going to happen no matter how many times I thought to myself "I'm finally going to carve out some time to write." Sigh.

Well, that all stops today. At least for right now.

As many of you already know, I lost my best friend last Thursday both very suddenly and very unexpectedly. Just like that, my hustled life came to a screeching halt and I was brought to my knees, figuratively and physically. In one moment, my life changed and my heart shattered.

Although I've tried my best to come to grips with losing my beloved Wrigley, AKA Piggy, I know in my heart and mind that I'm floundering. I can't seem to make sense of anything right now. I'm shocked. I'm devastated. I'm in physical pain and my chest aches. I feel as though I cannot breathe much of the day. I'm angry. I'm mad. I'm overwhelming sad. I'm struggling with guilt and remorse and what if's and why's. And every time I go to pray, I cannot seem to make it further than "Dear Heavenly Father....I don't know how to do this..." and then I'm done. I just can't.

As I struggled to put on my make-up through my tears this morning (which, by the way, is like brushing your teeth with Oreos), I kept thinking "I don't know how to do this. He has stood at my feet while I've gotten ready for the day approximately 4,500 times. How do I do this? How do I be okay? I just don't know how to do this..." the one thought that followed was "You write. That's how you do this. At least for now. You just write."

And so for this week, while I am struggling to find a way "to do this", I will write. I will write to him, for him and about him. This week's posts will not be for anyone else, but for us, the Freiberg four. Myself, the Hubs, Nash and Piggy. If these posts do not interest you, that's okay. Please come back again next week, I'd love to see you back. But for this week and for my heart and sweet boy's memory, I'm going to write. Because honestly, I don't know how to do anything else right now.

Thank you for the space to heal and process.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Mothers and Sons

For my birthday, the Hubs gave me many thoughtful gifts including tickets to see one of my favorite groups, Straight No Chaser (thanks!). Amongst the many gifts was a small book entitled Mothers and Sons.

Well this week during a quiet moment with my Munchie, I pulled out the book and read aloud a few of the pages from this momma to my son. And by the time the Hubs came back into the room, I had watery eyes and a sniffly nose thanks to sweetness of what lay on those pages.

Their words were so simple, but almost too much for this new-ish mom. So as we head into another wonderful Mother's Day, I thought I'd share a few of them with you all. Maybe you're a new mom like me and these words will serve as learning tool and a sweet guide, or maybe you're the mom of grown children and this will serve as a wonderful reminder of those precious moments in time that you'll enjoy reliving, even if for a minute.

So to all the mothers of sons...

Those fingers...
Lost it on this one. I can still remember searching crowds for my parents' faces and to know that I am now the face being sought after is an incredible feeling. Forever isn't long enough.
Yes, ma'am. Every day.
I do believe this is the first one that made me cry.
And I believe and claim this one 100%. No one looks at me like he looks at me.
Like he's studying my face as though he's trying to memorize it and my every emotion. Priceless.


No truer words. Blown away.
Who else do you love SO much that your first thought every single time your eyes open at daybreak is the make sure that person is still a part of your world. I still check, almost every night or morning to make sure he's safe and cozy.

Guilty as charged.
This one made me cry too knowing that this is something that Munchie will
not only share with his dad, but may also crave with his dad.
They have so much fun together.  
Even when their acrobatics make my heart stop for a second.


When someone's smiles can wreck your heart for the better,
almost as much as their tears, that's unconditional love.
Smile forever, sweet boy. And cry whenever you need.

I can get lost in his tiny toes and the dimples on his hands.
And I will never not sing to him even when my voice scratches or hits notes not known to man.
I will never not tell him he's perfectly made by imperfect parents and a perfect God.  
I will never not be there for him in body, by phone or by prayer.
This sweet boy makes the best blanket. Ever.
Special thanks to Alyssa and Ethan at Little Sprouts for helping Nash craft my first, ever Mother's Day art. It melted my heart and I'll keep it forever.
Cheers to Mothers and Sons!