I don’t know how it is for others who have lost a pet, but for me, year one was just getting through all the firsts. After that, holidays come and go and I wish Melvin and Jake were here but I don’t necessarily count the number of moments they’ve missed.
Except the anniversary of when we said goodbye. I try not to think about it, but my brain does not always comply. My brain reminds me in March, that Melvin died in April. And I try to think of other things but something more powerful than me forces me to remember. And on that day in April, I have a day to myself. No social media, no blog. Doug and I take donations to shelters and pay Melvin’s love forward. I may cry a little, but for the most part, Melvin is always with me.
It’s a little different with Jake’s anniversary. My mind starts reminding me much earlier. And I fight really hard to ignore it. There are many more tears. Losing Melvin was pure sadness. Losing Jake was more traumatic. Melvin was gone, Jake was gone. There were no dogs. Days felt infinite because I was no longer caring for Jake.
Grief is so confusing and hurtful.
Next week will be two years since I looked into Jake’s googly eyes, and I can still feel the spiral of emotion that I went through before and after he died. And at the same time, joy washes over me every time I see his face.
So that is where you come in. The best way for me to combat those emotions, is to pay Jake love forward. So Melvin & Jake’s Project Joy would like to find a dog in need of wheelchair. The dog can be in their forever home or waiting to be rescued, but preferably in the US.
Please message us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you know of a dog that needs a cart. We will pick one on July 18th so that Jakey’s anniversary can be more joyful than sad!
This Monday is the one year anniversary of finding out Jake had cancer. I remember sitting in my car after getting the call and my eyes and chest burning from sadness and fear. I couldn’t breathe. I remember feeling so overwhelmed because I was still mourning Melvin. Jake couldn’t have cancer, they must be wrong. I raced home to be with Jake, since more than ever, every second counted.
Why are your eyes so leaky?
In two weeks, it’s the two-year anniversary of finding out Melvin was dying. Calendars suck.
I don’t plan to remember these dates forever. But back to back loss makes me feel like I’ve been sad for a long time. I also know how far I’ve come despite losing them both so close together.
My love for Melvin continues to grow. He is me. He is my heart, my guiding light, the goodness I try to put out into the world. As for losing Jake, he and I still have some first to go through on our way to the year anniversary of his death this July. I still feel that burning in my chest sometimes when I think of Jake. Sadness and joy still struggle for the win when I think of him.
But then there is this, in my world, Melvin and Jake are the sun, they are the joy, and the laughter and everything that is beautiful in this life. I have learned that great loss does not slow down the trajectory of great love.
Melvin was, and in some ways, will always be the muse for this blog. He is the reason it exists.Funny though, I have a hard time even recalling the posts I did about Melvin as an only dog. When I look back, it’s as if it was always Melvin and Jake. I guess that’s all part of a love that was meant to be. Now that they are both gone, they are eternally one. Melvin & Jake. Jake & Melvin. My favorite odd couple. The source of so much of my joy.
After Melvin died, I mentioned that I might change the name of the blog. There were many comments asking me not to, that it felt wrong to do that, and in the end, I kept the name.
But now, its time.
Here is where my heart is…
Oh Melvin the blog started six years ago with just me and Melvin, hardly anyone even read back then! I chronicled his severe allergies, his tail amputation, his joyful exuberance.
When Jake came along, it was easy to add him and still feel like Oh Melvin worked. Everyday that passed, they became life partners. Now that Doug is here, and knowing other dogs will come, Oh Melvin feels…like a look back. Oh Melvin doesn’t feel like it captures this new world where I am without Melvin and Jake, where I am learning to chase joy with Doug.
Oh Melvin is from where I’ve come, and although it will always be a part of me, I don’t say those treasured words very often anymore. And the moments when I do say them, well now those moments are more personal, they belong only to me.
The URL will always be ohmelvin.com because Melvin is the soul of this blog. OhMelvin.com is the road that will always lead you to me and me to you, but it’s time for the blog name itself to support a past, present and future.
Moving forward is OK. Its good. Its how life goes.
I’m not going to do a big introduction, one day soon you will stop by and the change will have occurred (it’s actually all loaded up, I just have to publish it). The photo will change too, I thought I should warn of you that also. I hope when you see it, you smile. I can tell you with certainty that Melvin and Jake are fine with it.
Just as a sidenote, I changed our Instagram name this week too (it’s now: @dougholupka.for.president). It only seemed fair that Doug get some real estate in some of our social media presence. I’m not sure why I never changed that account name after Melvin died (but had I, it would have either been Just Jake or Wonkalicious). I think Jake was ok living under the Oh Melvin umbrella though. I think he wouldn’t have had any other way.
Jake has been gone for six months. I’m not going to write too much because at this stage, I still miss him so much. What I will say is that my love for him has grown infinitely and that photos now bring many more smiles than tears.
Jakey, I love you. You will always be my pea-nugget. #loveliveson
I am not sure where to begin with this one. It’s been quite a week.
I was having back pain and it hurt to breathe so I assumed that I pulled something. I went to our local ER and that turned into an ambulance ride to a different hospital and that turned into being in the hospital for three days. I had a pulmonary embolism. Before you gasp and hurt yourself, this was not my first PE. In fact, I have had many, many blood clots find their way into my lungs. I’m not sure how I’m still here but I’m grateful that is the case.
The thing that is different about this time is that I was on medication to prevent blood clots. Yet here I was in the hospital with another PE. My blood clotting condition had gone to new heights, not in a good way. Three things owned my worry at that point:
Doug. I had left for a quick errand and now I would not be home for days. I called his tribe and they took over. His meals were made, he got walks, he got play time and I got lots of video proof that my boy was just fine. This was perhaps the best of all the medicine.
That I was suddenly not safe. That I could clot and/or perhaps die at any minute. This feeling has not gone away yet. Its heavy and scary and I’m still working on this one.
That there was a clot at all. After you have situations like this, the event itself is less scary. I knew it would be painful, I knew it would be some time of not feeling well but it occurred, I survived, and the doctors were taking care of it. This is not me making light of anything, it’s just a reality that I live with.
I came home to a well fed and very loved Doug. My not feeling well pretty much went unnoticed by him, he still wanted to jump on me and ride my back and eat my hair. In some ways, although more painful than usual, it helps to have a dog that is of the everything is normal and great, let’s go!.
A few days later, on Thanksgiving, I got a migraine, because why wouldn’t I. Then decided to decorate the Christmas tree and had to come face-to-face with all my Jakey decorations. One year ago I had to deal with Melvin’s ornaments and now dealing with Jake’s made pulling both of their decorations out of the box sting so much more. I wanted Jake to be here. I wanted him on the couch as I decorated the tree. He wasn’t supposed to die. So I cried and I got overwhelmed because the week had been hard enough and well to be honest, because I felt sorry for myself and I gave in that it was ok to feel defeated. Now, the tree is up. The boy’s decorations are on there. I survived a blood clot, a migraine and another painful grief moment. This week had to let go of me eventually. Then I looked at the calendar.
Yesterday was Jake’s gotcha day. I miss him more than I am afraid to die.
Here is the thing though, being scared and overwhelmed and sad, those are human emotions and I am going to feel those things because, well because last time I checked I am still human. But they aren’t who I am. I can’t stay there because I believe in joy. I’m committed to joy. When the boys died I promised them that I would carry on. When I feel afraid, my first instinct is to wonder when or how I can feel brave again. When I feel beaten down I think, I’m still here, get up. When I think of Jake and Melvin, I know it’s ok to be sad, but I desperately want to feel warmth during thoughts of them both. Joy takes work. Sometimes chasing joy is the last thing I want to do and often I have no energy to even try but then I realize, it’s the only way. Joy haunts me. When I look at the tree now, those ornaments that brought tears, bring smiles, because Melvin and Jake were here, they were right here with me and I had precious time with them and I also had a ridiculous amount of ornaments made with their names on them and that alone is both crazy and funny. I also think, poor Doug has no ornaments. YET!
I had written Jake’s last gotcha letter before the health events. I will finish that up and post it tomorrow. Everyday I will celebrate quietly that he came to me. He was here. That there was and always will be, great Jakey love.
And I’ll leave you with this. On the tree decorating day, after the hospital stay and the migraine and all the ornament ugly crying. I sat on the couch exhausted and Doug started jumping on me and I said out loud but calmly, I need Melvin. Five minutes later Doug allowed me to lay down and he snuggled with me on the couch as I cried and I napped, for the rest of the day.
April 1st is the blog’s birthday. No fooling. I have never missed the anniversary, until this year. In fact, had Facebook not sent me my daily-memory-reminder-for-years-past, I don’t think I would have remembered at all!
Losing Melvin softened some of my Type A’ness. At first it drove me nuts but now I just go with it!
So yay us! Friday marked five years of blogging! Woot woot!
The very first thing I felt when I realized the anniversary was gratitude, for all of you. I love writing, coming here and sharing our life and having a repository for my thoughts, is my happy place. You are part of our village! This past year has been hard and having this blog and having posts to look back on has been a source of great healing and inspiration for me.
So thank you, for you!
I don’t know what this next year and blogging will bring. Jake’s time with me is going to be short. That is a reality. And even though this blog was my outlet for grief this past year, I don’t really want to write about grief…again. Heck, I don’t want to feel grief again but that is a whole different set of emotions! I’m not sure how long of a period there will be when there are no dogs here. This clearly falls into, ‘we don’t know what we don’t know’.
For now, this blog is five and this blog is incredibly special to me and you, each of you, make my day regularly!
Thank you for following along, for loving my boys and for laughing and crying with us. Thank you for all things you! High-five to five!
In year one, there was just me and Melvin. And his girlfriend, fluffy pillow.
In year two, there was a new house and Melvin clearly hated it.
In year three, Jake joined. He has always been so comfortable and natural in front of the camera.
In year four, there was so much love, we almost imploded.
And in year five, it was this guy and me. He is still so relaxed when the camera comes out.