It has been forever since we talked…since Thanksgiving, to be exact. I didn’t plan to neglect you all this time, but I have been alternately too busy and too sad to write. After turkey day, I was polishing my applications to Ph.D. programs for which the dates were fast approaching. I was also nursing my beloved dachshund, Buddy, who was old and ailing. Plus, even though I don’t celebrate any of the December religious holidays, there were still gifts to purchase, wrap, and ship for my grandson and the general swirl of pre-holiday panic that you cannot even avoid by staying home because it pervades the television, radio, and podcast spheres, too. Unless you go dark, you cannot help but get caught up in the holiday hype.
I made my first program application deadline of December 1st. Then I was back and forth to the veterinarian’s office so many times I lost count. I made my second application deadline of December 15th and then Buddy stopped eating, save for when I prodded him with small amounts of people food. This sent us back to the vet’s office where X-rays and an ultrasound revealed that he had intestinal cancer. One last weekend of steroids hoping he would rally enough to eat, only to have him lose control of his bladder and bowels in his sleep, led to the realization that I was torturing him. In an act of mercy toward me, even as he was dying, my precious fur son loved me through that miserable weekend and I loved him back, and on Monday, December 18th, I let him go. I was heartbroken. He had been with me for 14 of his 16 years and I missed him desperately. I cried myself to sleep, comforted by the presence of his fur-sister-from-another-mother, Rusty the chihuahua. The rest of December was a blur.
January saw three more application deadlines met and the nightly crying abated. I don’t know what Rusty thought about Buddy’s absence…she did not seem to be looking for him. She just clung to her humans a little bit more. She hates when we leave, no doubt worrying that we won’t return. I am loving on her more, taking her out with me more, carrying her around more than I used to…I guess we are coping. Classes have begun again in my master’s program, I am deep in research for two substantial projects, and I have resumed teaching occasional cooking classes. I have my volunteer work and some fieldwork for my research projects and life is moving forward despite my grief which ebbs and flows.
Out of my five applications to Ph.D. programs, I have received one rejection, one admittance, and am still waiting to hear from the other three. Batting 50% is not a bad place to be. Should I not be admitted elsewhere, I am quite satisfied with the school to which I have been admitted. Having a choice would be nice but I’m not going to be greedy. I will learn a lot and make the best of any of them; I chose them carefully to ensure it. I am excited about the future, busy in the present, and starting to move into this new phase of my life as a scholar and researcher. For a poor kid that wasn’t sure she would ever get to attend college, that’s a pretty big deal.
I feel pretty lucky to have already lived two full professional lives and to now get to embark upon the journey of my lifelong dreams as an academic. I have relationship regrets along the way, some that still linger on my heart and mind. Many folks do. But I refuse to sit out the rest of my life because of it. I am willing to try to mend those relationships if and when the other parties get ready. Once upon a time I tried to drown my grief and it damned near consumed me. The thinking that led me to torture myself over my regrets has been supplanted with thoughts of making the best of my time here on planet Earth, to move forward, to try, to do what I can when I can to contribute to the collective, to be with the people around me rather than constantly longing for those who are not. I hope one day that my beloved who are angry with me, especially one someone in particular, will reach for my extended hand. Meanwhile, I’m going to live.
P.S. You guys! I got into a Ph.D. program! WOO HOO!!!
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