A few days ago, Darwin and I were snuggled up in the bed, taking our afternoon siesta. The window was open, and we were within earshot of our next door neighbor's side yard. From outside the window, we heard sounds of little kids playing - soothing sounds, not annoying ones - and every once in awhile we'd hear a dad call out, "Henry!" One of the little kids must have been named "Henry", and he must have been quite a little rug rat, because we heard the name "Henry" called out quite a few times. And every time that name was called, Darwin would awake from his slumber, perk up his ears, tilt his head, and look over at the window, as if to say, "Could it be? Is it true? Might that be my big brother Henry?"
It was uncanny - the way he reacted. Johnny was there, too - and we both agreed that Darwin's reaction might have been the sweetest thing that's happened since we lost Henry in December. Of course, Deirdre running over to the spot where Henry used to sit on the ottoman and saying, "Bubba" was pretty cute, too, but to see Mr. Dar react to that name brought us to tears. Sometimes it's so easy to accept that he's gone...but other days, not so much.
I was thinking about that big ole' guy just the other day (although I should mention that not a day goes by when Hendo doesn't get some air time), and it was in regard to feeding time.
Darwin, bless his heart, eats his breakfast in the morning, and his dinner in the evening. He eats the same amount everyday, usually around the same time, never asking for more, and never complaining about the menu of the day (which is, sorry to say, always the same old Iams formula.)
Henry, on the other hand, would hardly have finished is helping of food (which, I suppose, he considered his "first course") before he was banging on his bowl asking for more. He would whine, flip his bowl over, even bark until we gave him more food. And you know what? We tried to resist. We really did. We knew giving into his gourmandish ways was not advisable...but that whining! He really wouldn't stop until we gave him a little more. And after finishing that bowl, (his "second course"), he would start harrumphing and snuffling as if he expected a little bit more. We were usually able to stand our ground and wait out the sounds of the grumbling pug - but it took some patience. Eventually, Henry would realize that he was not entitled to a third round of food and would eventually saunter off to the family room to sleep off his frustrations. And as he went, he never failed to shoot you a look like, "Don't worry. I'll be back. I'm not finished with you yet."
Seriously. This was our routine every day. And not just the morning...but in the evening, too. He even started to request food mid-afternoon, and then again at night before bedtime. If you want to talk about this new generation and their sense of entitlement...boy, could Henry lead the charge. He was just so needy...particularly when it came to food. It only got worse when he was diagnosed with diabetes - because now we had a thirst problem to contend with...and then when he went blind, physically getting him to either his food or his water bowl was always a production. Like feeding time wasn't enough of a production already.
So the other day, as I was pouring a modest portion of food into Dar's bowl, because he so politely had tapped on his bowl to indicate that he was ready for his breakfast, I thought of how accustomed we had become to Henry's shenanigans. We came to expect it, to anticipate it - and to go through the same draining, somewhat aggravating motions several times a day. We didn't think it could be any other way - and so we just dealt with it.
And just like any other draining, aggravating issue you have to deal with, frustrations can run high, patience can wear thin, and resentment can set in. Don't get me wrong - I loved that little guy with all of my heart (and then some), but many of his troubles (getting up in the night to go potty outside, getting up in the middle of the night to get a drink, having accidents, lashing out because he was frustrated with his inability to see, whining because he didn't feel good) became my troubles, and it was hard. I would say particularly with a newborn in the house, but that really didn't make that big of a difference. Henry would have been a handful with or without a little one in the house. As it was, Deirdre came out smelling like a rose...sleeping through the night and conveying (through no words, just actions) what she needed and then being happy about it once she got it, both instances unlike her biggest pug brother.
Now that a little time has passed, I still miss him. I miss those eyes. That smush face. Those snorts, and that wag. But what I don't miss...is his illness. It was very hard on the household to work around Mr. Henry. And we did it because we loved him. But we sure wish it could have been different.
And that makes me know that every step I take toward living well - toward taking care of myself so that I'm not in a position of being sick, bed-ridden, or debilitated - is a good one. I never want to become accustomed to illness again - so whatever it takes, I'll be willing to give a little so that I don't have to give up a lot. Life with lupus could be very different. And in the future, I might have to contend with the fact that my illness is raging once again. But for now, I'm going to do what I can to stay healthy and out of trouble. I'm going to do my best to live well, despite lupus.
And I'll be sure not to bang on my food bowl. That will keep Johnny happy for sure.