Happy Heavenly Birthday Maggie Mae

They say that no one is safe from death. We are all moving towards the same outcome in the end though there are people, pets, memories….that we wish and pray we could save from the embrace of death. I continue to remind myself that though the grief is sometimes too much to bear I wear my sadness like a badge of courage, an honor to have such an unfathomable grief — because that meant that I loved something with such passion and gusto and now that Maggie has passed there is no where for that love to go and it manifests in such agonizing grief.

I would not trade any of this for anything in the universe. All of the memories, the good, the bad, the downright ugly — I replay them in my mind as if they were home movies in a nostalgic attempt to bring me back to those glorious times.

As I reflect on Maggie Mae’s “first” birthday in Heaven today I reminisce about her very first birthday here on earth! A baby faced 18 year old (convinced that I knew everything about being “grown up” — now that I am in my 30’s I can see how very VERY wrong I was — don’t tell my parents they were actually right about this!) working a crap minimum wage job and in college rocking the title of “poor college student”. Did I have any right having a dog? Absolutely not! Not for any other reason other then I was 18 years old! I knew nothing about responsibilities, the decisions I would have to make (or do) surrounding this little curly tailed ball of fur or when something would effect ME that it meant it also effected Maggie Mae. For the very first time in my immature young adult life I had someone else to think about, to worry about, to put before my own wants & needs.

I suppose as I reflect on Maggie Mae’s birthday, her life, ALL of the things that SHE accomplished in her life (and let me tell you, she accomplished quite a bit! What other pug can say they rode around in style on a custom made 1975 trike with there mom and grandpy? Or could go swimming whenever they wanted with mom and grammy because (my) grandparents have a swimming pool? Or all of the parades, the events, the PLACES that she went — I can say with all sincerity that no other dog can say they had the amazing, full life that Maggie Mae had) and it fills my heart with such bittersweet love that I can close my eyes and for a split second I SWEAR that I feel her brush against me, her black velvet ears, her little oinks she would make that almost expressed her inner thoughts to me, or her clawing/pawing at my arm when I was not giving her the amount of attention that Maggie felt SHE required (and let me tell you that Maggie Mae got ALL of the attention and then some! She sometimes had a “flare for the theatrics” and play the part of the “sad neglected pug” anytime I had to do chores or schoolwork — she was funny like that!).

I suppose that Maggie Mae played a MAJOR role in how my life began to shape and turn out. Without Maggie Mae I doubt I would have had the courage to leave a mentally & physically abusive relationship, without Maggie Mae I don’t think I would have had the determination to finish college, go to vet tech school and continue to learn as much as I possibly could, without Maggie Mae I wouldn’t be the person at work when clients thank me for such tenderness & compassion because I remind them that “I would want someone to extend the same love and compassion to MY animals so I will ALWAYS extend that same courtesy to others…”. Maggie Mae kicked off my endeavor to have the “house of misfits” – full of love, funny memories and general shenanigans with her handicat brothers, her epileptic brother Roscoe and even the devil child that set up camp in our basement (Lucy, she’s a calico so we cannot hold her sauciness against her!) — Maggie Mae is my reason for EVERYTHING.

So, for as much as my heart will forever ache for the little smooshy face, oinky pug that changed my ENTIRE life…. the total opposite course my life was attempting to take — I will always be grateful for her and cherish her for ALL that she did for me — she saved my life. For this I am forever in her debt and will for the rest of my days always remember and honor what a special day today is (September 13) because that is the day that the universe brought Maggie Mae into the world — by Thanksgiving 2006 Maggie and I had crossed paths and the rest is history!

Happy Happy Heavenly Birthday my beautiful, funny, affectionate, courageous Maggie Mae. Mere words will never be able to express just how much I love you, miss you and will forever appreciate you. Thank you for showing me parts of myself that I did not even know I could conjure up (and for reminding me that I can be a mom to a rag tag group of hanidpets — I learned a great deal of patience from being Maggie’s mama!). I love you baby girl.

September 13, 2006- January 25, 2021 ; forever in my heart & soul.

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.