One of the hardest things I have ever had to do was to tell Nick he had to say goodbye to Eli last night. It just might be THE hardest thing I have ever done. We got Eli when Nick was about six months old. They literally grew up together. Luckily Nick was with The Ex for part of the weekend, so was spared having to watch Eli go downhill quickly. When we came home last night, I wanted to prepare him. We talked. He cried. I consoled.
This morning, as the kids got ready for camp, Nick walked into the kitchen to say his goodbyes. I watched him as he knelt down on the floor next to Eli, rubbing his face in Eli’s fur. Talking to him. Stroking his paw. Rubbing his ear. Ok, so apparently I’m not completely cried out. The errant tear on the keyboard is probably a giveaway. I have had a million and one moments of pride in Nick, but never more so than this morning. He was so very brave. Incredibly stoic. He didn’t shed a tear while he said his goodbyes. I could not have been more proud of them than in those moments.
I walked him down to my friend Denise’s car, who was taking him off to camp. She knew what was going on. In fact, she was dropping the kids off at camp and coming back to help me. On the way to camp, Nick and her son Sean talked about Eli. From what I hear, there was a lot of that going on at camp during the day. He shared stories with the counselors and shed tears amongst his best friends. Two of his friends, Sean and Payton, have known Eli for years and years, and I know they were feeling the pain too. I’m glad that they could be there for Nick.
I will spare you all the play-by-plays of the day, but I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Denise. I likely owe her my next born. If not more. Not only did she help me get can’t-walk-at-all-and-weighs-over-100-pounds Eli down to my truck, she stayed with me until the very last moment at the vet. An appointment I have never gone for before. The Ex was always that one that went to the vet for “those” appointments. But this time was different. I felt I owed it to Nick. To Eli. To do right by both of them.
When I picked the boys up from camp, Nick asked about Eli. I told him some of the moments I knew he would smile about. Nick and Sean shared stories about Eli on the way home.
Around 5:30, Beth texts me, asks if we’re home, and tells me to stay put. A few minutes later, I open the door to find her with two full bags of food for us. For dinner. She left work in NYC early to go pick us up dinner and drive it out to us. She also picked up a birthday cake for Nick. (The big day is tomorrow)
I could not be more grateful. I knew the quiet house tonight was going to be hard for all of us, and wow, what an awesome surprise to see Beth standing there with dinner.
A strong support network is something huge. We have the best one ever. And as each day passes, we find out how truly lucky we are. As friends and family started finding out what was going on, my phone kept vibrating with text messages and e-mails. Offers of help and virtual hugs. Every last word was absolutely appreciated and as I told Nick, we are very, very lucky. And in this instance, look how many people loved Eli!
Then there’s Madeline. She, of course, at 3-1/2 doesn’t quite grasp the concept that Eli isn’t coming back. When I said goodbye to Nick as he went to camp this morning and started buckling her into her car seat, she asked why I was crying.
“Because Eli is very sick and I’m a little sad about it.”
Mommy, stop crying in the driveway!
When we went to pick the boys up from camp this afternoon, she was chattering NON-STOP, trying to make conversation with them. Nick asked her to please stop. He really just wanted a bit of peace to be upset. To gather his thoughts. He asked nicely. He asked not so nicely.
“But I’m just trying to make you happy, NICK-O-LESS!”
Although she is a handful and a half, Madeline has the type of personality that is a welcome respite from dealing with something like this.
Nick is handling it as best as he can. Having fits of normalcy and bouts of tears.
Mystic stopped by after work, as did his daughter a little bit later.
Nick has a lot of people who love him to pieces and who are there offering a shoulder to cry on.
This too shall pass. In the meantime, I’m working on trying to distract him. To keep him busy. Tonight we worked on making new artwork for the master bath. And I kid you not, it kept him busy for about an hour, and Madeline nearly two. Had I known it was that easy (and cheap!), I would have had art night every night! Well, almost. Twenty-nine cent bottles of acrylic paint and 50% off canvases are totally the way to go.
I will leave you with a bit of perky happiness before I sign off to snuggle with my littles.
At Madeline’s summer camp today, they were doing something with cheerleader pom-poms. Madeline was apparently bugging her teacher about taking the pom-poms home. The teacher promised her she would give her a pair if she didn’t tell any of the other kids because there wasn’t enough for everyone. Madeline nodded emphatically and quickly stuffed the pom-poms underneath her shirt to sneak out of the building. When we went to go pick up the boys from camp later, she insisted on bringing her pom-poms with her so she could do a cheer to make Nick laugh. She’s that kind of girl. Always the life of the party but consistently putting others first. We are very lucky to have her.
I appreciate you hanging with us for a heavier than usual post. It was either this or no update. But in the realm of real life, there’s sometimes a bit more going on than cupcakes and the hunt for the best pizza ever. Tomorrow I promise happiness! Ya hear that The Neighbor Husband?
Tonight is my last night as the mom of an eight-year-old. We counted it up tonight and Nick is managing to squeeze in birthday celebrations over five days, between today and this coming Sunday. What can I say? He learned from the best.