151 Days.

Maggie Mae

September 12, 2006- January 25, 2021

They say that grief is not linear. It does not follow a predetermined timeline and it is okay to allow yourself to feel the rise and fall of the waves as they come. If you would have told me that on June 25, 2021 I would have survived 151 entire days without my sweet Maggie Mae beside me I probably would have scoffed at the idea since there was no way I could manage without her here, that the very idea of losing her was just unfathomable and silly.

I can say I have (somehow) survived 151 days without Maggie Mae. It feels so strange to even say out loud. Its funny when you are a fresh faced, bright eyed 18 year old you think that life goes on forever and you really do feel invincible! I remember equally looking down at a brand new fresh face baby pug and felt we had a lifetime together and I would cherish every single minute together (call it 18 year old naivety because I definitely knew better! But I suppose that’s what happens when you fall in love — whether its a spouse, friend, pet… you envelope yourself in everything they are and seem to forget the ugly inevitable) and in a strange, melancholy kind of love (or grief) even the “goodbye” I cherished despite wishing, hoping and praying I did not have to.

The morning we said goodbye to our sweet matriarch to our little land of misfits. I just KNEW. I know that sounds silly but I knew. Despite my husband trying to keep the faith and maintain optimism (he is pretty good at always seeing the “other side” of things and tries to instill hope in me the typical “doom & gloom” type) I just knew Maggie was ready so just like her and I had done for so many mornings prior to that fateful day — so many milestones, so many tears, injuries, love, frustrations… Maggie and I curled up on the couch together just like any other day and I held her close to me drinking up every single detail I could of her — the velvet soft ears that by now were salt and pepper colored and could no longer hear me, I wiped her little boogers away (even the gross little details of her I cherished, love makes you do crazy things right?), and I pulled her closer to me letting her snores vibrate against my heart while tears dampened her little head.

The drive to the veterinarian was the shortest, longest drive I will ever remember (if that makes sense). It was 8:30am Monday. It wasn’t snowing but nippy outside. Maggie was wrapped up in a fleece blanket as I held her inside my leather jacket (just like I had done her entire life) as my husband tried to keep my mind busy by talking about the weather, friends, general conversation but nothing could take my mind from Maggie Mae, reflecting on all of the amazing, fun, crazy (and sometimes stupid!) things we did together, that she truly was my co-pilot — there was not a place that I went that she did not go with me, even motorcycle rides she came with me and slept soundly as the breeze spilled past her face and ears — I laughed about the times I painted her nails, put jewelry on her, the thousands and thousands of photographs and videos we have together, once I dyed her for St. Patrick’s Day — I chuckled as I thought of how patient Maggie was when having me as her mama and tolerating all of the cute, silly little things I would do to her or with her.

I played in my memories like a carousel all of the foster animals I had taken in over the years and Maggie Mae just took everything in stride — it was like she KNEW that regardless of the fosters I took in, or the handicats I would eventually foster fail — that she was always my #1 (and she was right). She patiently handled hundreds of foster kittens that would crawl all over her, bathe her, try to bite at her ears and feet (she never minded — if she was over it she definitely let them know!), she would sit up ever so quietly when I was bottle feeding newborn kittens, or mourning those fosters that lost their fights with illness or injuries — Maggie was always there by my side.

And in those nights of frustration and insomnia — when I would toss and turn cursing the moon and the stars– there was Maggie Mae always, the ever so patient “mama” always there, always keeping an eye on the situations unfolding around her.

My mind snapped back to the car door closing. After that I remember blurred little “blurbs” of that day — I remember holding Maggie and walking into my clinic sobbing. I didn’t care how I looked or how loud I was– I was losing my best friend and no amount of tears or wailing would rectify that. I remember standing in that room with her letting the fog and tears stain my glasses and cheeks while my husband held Maggie and I. I remember kissing Maggie’s face and reminding her how much I loved her and that she was absolutely the love of my life and that would never change, I told her I would spend the rest of my life mourning her and I sang her her favorite song — the pink panther theme song I used to hum to her as a baby getting her to nod off to sleep.

Maggie was tired though. I saw it on her face and in her warm brown eyes. She was tired. She had been fighting transitional cell carcinoma of the bladder for almost a year on top of kidney stones and elevated bloodwork levels, she was tired of the menagerie of medications everyday, the subQ fluids, the injections, the transdermal medications, she was tired of trying to resist getting her pills in the morning. For as much as it physically and mentally pained me to do it I knew that I had to let her go, she was tired and there was no amount of things I could do to fix that but to let her rest until I saw her again.

And for a brief moment — almost so quick if I blinked I would miss it — I was 18 again with a brand new, fresh little pug who had managed to absolutely take over my life and had me better trained (as much as I wanted to admit it was the other way around it was not!) was looking back at me with her head cocked in a quizzical look. I knew that when it came to Maggie Mae I made the best choice — when I adopted her (when I had no right owning a dog! But you know, at 18 you know everything there is to know about the world and want so badly to be an “adult” again call it dumb teenage naivety), when I picked her over boyfriends, when I protected her against the evils of the world, when I was hungry but I made sure she always ate first, when we were cold and I always ensured she was snuggly and warm first, that for as much as I reached out to Maggie for comfort and solace that she had always relied on me for those things.

I will forever wish I had more time with Maggie Mae (that goes without saying! Whether it was 15 years or 100 I will ALWAYS wish I had more time with her) and I would trade everything for her time and time again.

Today I still cannot believe I have made it 151 days. It feels like an eternity but in the same breath feels like yesterday. Everyday I am thankful that I was able to spend my formidable years, so many important milestones … with my co-pilot by my side.

Maggie Mae is why I took Maxwell and very much believe that he and I crossed paths for a very important reason — we needed each other. Maxwell needed someone to love him and be patient with him, to love him despite his “flaws” and not give up on him — and I needed him to help soothe my grief stricken soul that manifested itself almost in a physical pain. I would like to think as Maggie was exiting this lifetime and Maxwell was entering it that they crossed paths and Maggie gave Maxwell instructions to push all of my buttons, to be cute but be ornery also (Maxwell was born on the day Maggie Mae passed away) and most importantly have a sign forever imprinted on him — Maxwell has a black “birthmark” on his chest — it is the only black mark on him and it is in the shape of an “M” right over his heart — right where I have Maggie’s name and picture tattooed on me — over my heart. I believe the universe played matchmaker between my sorrow and a spoiled, rotten, adorable, “broken” little pug that someone was trying to toss away like trash — just like the petstore had tried doing with Maggie.

Maxwell Seamus

(Maxwell James)

People will forever ask why I take the “broken”, the “dejected”, those animals that need just a little extra patience and empathy — I will always ask them “why not” take them? If I had not taken a chance on something beautiful that someone was trying to simply toss away I would have never been blessed with Maggie and had my life changed forever for the better. Even before Bifford, before Bart (“handicats”) there was Maggie — paving the way for my specially-abled pet journey and just another way that Maggie Mae influenced my life and continues to influence my life.