Missing Mulligan

On Saturday night we stayed home. The last time we stayed home on Saturday night? If you forced me I would guess - maybe 2003.

Our boy had gone into the hospital that day.

On Sunday we slept, almost all day trying not to think about what happened Saturday. I watched the USA vs. Canada hockey game Sunday evening and tried to be my usual animated, yelling at the screen self. On one particular play I shouted YES,YES,YES and raised my arms in exaltation. Quickly I realized that I would need to find our boy who doesn't like it at all when I yell at the tv. I sought him out, to quiet and comfort him and tell him that Daddy was only yelling at the hockey players and not him at all.

He was not there. Still in the hospital.

When I went to bed Sunday night my side of the bed was not all warmed up for me as it usually is by my boy who sleeps there until I come to bed.

As I slid under the covers I muffled myself so Netter could not hear me crying for my boy.

Monday morning I woke up and answered the phone, spoke for a few minutes, hung up and rolled over tapping his pillow for him to come and comfort me and snuggle until I had to get up.

He did not come. The phone call was with the vet. Our boy was still in the hospital.

On Tuesday we visited the hospital and our boy seemed much better. He wanted to come home. I could tell by the way he acted when I walked him, and after I walked him when he pouted because we had gone back inside and not to the car. I was strangely encouraged by this, and hopeful that we would be able to bring him home on Wednesday.

And we were...

My ladies picked him up while I was at work on Wednesday evening and he was waiting for me when I got home. I spent almost half an hour on my knees saying hello to him, enjoying his kisses, stroking his fur and telling him how very glad I was that he was there with us.

We made a quick trip to the store to fill his prescriptions and get supplies to help us care for him and when we got home we got to say hello all over again.

Then bed time came.

He wouldn't sleep with Mommy as he usually does, but instead wanted to be with me in my office. Slowly he crawled into his chair, and nodded off, his breathing heavy and loud as it had never been before. I watched him intently, afraid to take my eyes off him in case he needed something, some more attention.

The few times I turned to look at my computer I could not find focus and quickly turned back to see that he was okay. Two of his big puppy dog legs dangled from the chair as they never had before and I wondered how on earth he could possibly be comfortable.

Then he moved to the floor, stretching out half on the tile, half on the carpet lying under a window which apparently lacks sufficient insulation because I could feel the cool air flowing around his body. I supposed that if I had 70 pounds of furry body I might want to feel cool as I recovered too so I gently petted him and watched him drift off to sleep, his body twitching, legs jumping in the tell tale sign of good puppy dog sleep that I'm sure he hadn't had in at least a few days.

After a short while he ventured upstairs to sleep outside my oldest daughter's bedroom door in the far corner of the hallway. I was concerned at first until he groaned when I turned on the light and I realized that he was just trying to improve his sleeping conditions by adding some darkness.

Later, he moved to sleep in our bathroom. I know he loves the cool tile there, and it's not too far away from Mommy so I patted him on his back and urged him back to sleep.

This morning I woke earlier than usual for a Thursday and went downstairs to help give him the first of his daily medicines. It seemed odd to be waking to do this. My boy is only (just short of) five. I feel like he should be much older before we start all this. We got all the medicine in him and I ventured back to bed knowing that Netter would leave him with me when she left for work. He jumped into bed with me and slept for the hour or so we had left.

Before I left for work I took my boy outside. We have to walk him on a leash even in our fenced in backyard because he can't over exert himself. He doesn't seem to want to do that anyway.

As we walked he stopped and there again was the odd colored urine that had caused our boy to head to the hospital in the first place. Maybe not as red as last week, but definitely not ordinary.

Netter will be heading home to him at noon. As I write this that's only a few minutes away. He's due to go to the vet for some tests at 12:30 and I am worried about what the results will be.

The one thing the vet told us when she first saw Mulligan James last Saturday was that his affliction, IMHA would put us on a roller coaster like we'd never known.

She was right.

I'm very worried about my boy. I'm trying to act normal. I'm trying to get through the work day.

I just can't stop thinking about my boy.

Growing Old. Together?

You think we're fighting, and I think we're finally talking.

Cuba Gooding Jr. as Rod Tidwell in Jerry McGuire.

During the Thanksgiving holiday weekend I ran into a childhood friend's mom, and she remarked that she could not believe a couple we all knew that had only been married for a short time was now divorced.

I told her that I was surprised too, but that I'd come to the conclusion that it was just another phase of life for our generation.

First - we all got married. Well, I got married a little sooner than most, but my peer group wasn't far behind.

Second - we all had children. Again, Netter and I were a little ahead of the curve here. Our oldest is 17.

Finally - some of us were getting divorced.

Sometimes relationships just don't work. People change. Expectations change. Priorities change. Goals change. Growing older is a never-ending process with innumerable possibilities.

In the end the variables sometimes take over, and couples come to a crossroads of sorts.

"Whew," I thought as we finished the conversation, "thank goodness that isn't happening to me."

Now the first of December was covered with snow...
Sweet Baby James by James Taylor

Okay, maybe not literally covered with snow, I honestly don't remember. Still the climate at my house in December was, well let's just say; different.

Did you notice how in the first and second points above I talked about where Netter and I were on the curve, but in the third point I didn't?

This is the third point.

As I said above, Netter and I were the first in our peer group to get married. In fact, I think only Netter's sister got married before she did. We were the first to have children. We were the first to have teenagers, etc... and so on.

So naturally, we would be among the first to come to the crossroads. Right?

No. It took a little longer. Honestly though, I'm glad we got there.

Ours has always been a relationship that everybody admired. That special couple who were just right for each other. I've always been proud of that, but I've also always wondered aloud why our relationship was different.

I married my best friend. Doesn't everybody do that?

Frankly I never understood those couples who pined for time away from their spouses, boy's night out, girl's night out, strippers, Chippendales and the like.

Why not couples night out? What's wrong with that?

Well, there are reasons to get away, and then there are REASONS to get away...

I'm still not sure I can speculate, but I do know I now understand at least some of that point of view.

People, even married people, are different. They have reasons to want to be independent, to do things alone, to try things maybe their spouse doesn't want to try. Every moment of every marriage doesn't have to be a fairy tale.

(Insert your own corny fairy tale cliche here.)

Every marriage does however, need to be a relationship and there has to be communication, even when that communication is uncomfortable.

So at my house, in December from a number of impromptu prompts, we spent the larger part of the month keeping in mind that we were trying to solve a problem, and not trying to win a fight.

If you're trying to win a fight you will, or may find yourself, divorced.

As a sidenote - that's not always a bad thing. Sometimes, people aren't meant to be together forever. Sometimes there are even mitigating circumstances. I know my Catholic upbringing doesn't agree with that, but it's a fact of life. Sometimes to be happy, we can't be together forever. That's okay.

Still, I'm grateful that because Netter and I took the time to tune into and listen to, to focus on each other, our marriage is now stronger than ever, and we have a much better idea of how to get to happily ever after.

I hope you all find happily ever after too.

Neither Rain nor Sleet nor Snowpocalypse 2010...

Sitting in my office watching the snowfall tonight and wondering just what kind of impact it is going to have on our very first Bowl for Joy tournament tomorrow.

In 15 years of  The MJB / Golf for Joy we've had one 10 minute rainstorm, and one rain shortened tourney that didn't happen until our 14th year.

First year of Bowl for Joy...

I'm looking at Snowpocalypse 2010. Well, that's what they're calling it around here it seems.

We sort of fumbled things with the rain in our 14th year. I guess Mother Nature decided we needed to be tested right out of the box in our first year of Bowl for Joy.

That's okay. I can handle it. I know that a lot of folks are waiting for me to make the call. Some are probably wondering why I haven't called things off already. After all the forecasts...

Are exactly that - forecasts. I deal with what I can see when I need to see it. Right now, I don't need to see anything. It's not like anybody is catching a plane to be here. Our furthest travelers are coming from the Cincinnati area. They will have plenty of notice. 

I'm also a bit of an optimist when it comes to weather. Kind of like this guy:

Don't worry, I'm also well aware that this isn't all about me. In fact it's not about me in any way shape or form. I get that.

I'll be up early in the morning tomorrow. No, that doesn't happen very often on my day off, but I know I have a responsibility to our attendees, and I take that very seriously.

Keep an eye here for updates. They'll be here when you need them.

In fact: Here is our latest update now from a member of our board. I'd hold him to this. I plan to... ;-)
As of 10:32 p.m. today:

The Bowl for Joy is ON!!! The major streets are clear and will be clear in the morning. Sawmill Lanes is at Bethel and Sawmill, two of the major streets on the NW side. There will be no problems getting there from 315 or 270. Just leave 15 minutes earlier than you planned. I will even buy you a "I Made It To The MJB" celebratory beer. This thing is on.