Remembering Sir Shakespeare Hemingway


035Today, March 7, 2018 is an extremely sad day for me. Today is the first anniversary of losing my precious mini-schnauzer, Sir Shakespeare Hemingway. Exactly one year later, I am still heartbroken over losing him. Over making the decision to allow him to go to Heaven so he would not suffer any longer.

On the morning of his loss, when he struggled to walk outside, his rear legs gave out on him again. Those precious little energized legs split apart. He fell down and looked at me, as if to say, “It’s time. I’m tired. I’m weak. I’m sick. Mommy, please do something so I will not ache anymore.” His legs were so weak he could not lift them like most male dogs do when they potty. He was pitiful, deteriorating right in front of my eyes.

Sir Shakespeare was born on April 11, 2003. On April 12, 2003, I met him. There were three newborn puppies. The female was promised to someone else. I touched both male puppies gently, rubbing their ears. Little Shakespeare, the “piglet” responded with a slight moan and I knew he was the pup we wanted. He fit into my hands and I kissed him on the nose while whispering his name: Sir Shakespeare Hemingway. We visited him weekly and when he was six weeks old, I was told he could go home with us. I wrapped him in a blue blanket and we brought him home. Little Shake n’ Bake squirmed from my lap onto my chest, and there he rested until we arrived home.

Independent. Affectionate, and a unique personality – that was Shakespeare. We communicated. He slept with me, always wanting to rest on my hip – touching me. Always. He did not like it if I asked him to please move over. He responded by scooting his little body over, grumbling the entire way. In the morning, he would climb on top of me. If I didn’t respond, he reached out with his left paw to touch me and awaken me. His eyes stared deeply into mine. I kissed his nose.

When I was sick with acute bronchial asthma, Shakespeare followed me around like a shadow. He would kiss me once, then he crawled onto my chest, sniffed at my nose and mouth and refused to move. He was my nurse, caring for me while he listened to the wheezing in my chest. He would not move away from me, even if I asked him to. He simply stared into my eyes, as if to say: “I’m taking care of you. You’re sick. You need me.” He fell asleep on my chest and when I awoke, he was there. My nurse. My loving, caring little Shakespeare.

Over the years together, we walked daily, until Shamus died. Shakespeare would lead us. Occasionally, he stopped to smell a flower, or to feel the fresh breeze blowing in his ears. Sometimes he would pick up a stick and carry it while walking. He had a phobia of darkness if he was alone. On one night my husband and I got home a bit late. The breakfast room was dark. Shakespeare and our other pups slept in this room if we were not home. On this night, when Shake n’ Bake heard the car, he was barking a loud and vicious bark. When we walked into the room, he jumped on my leg, still barking. He was reminding me that he was in the dark and he was frightened. Don’t ever leave me in the dark again. You know I hate being alone in the dark.

The next morning, I placed a lamp on a table in the room, turned the light on and never left it off. Shakespeare would not be in the dark again.

As he grew older, his appetite grew. He would eat his food and if another of our precious little friends hadn’t finished their food, he would attempt to move them over so he could eat again. During his yearly wellness check-up when he was 10-years-old, the vet suggested giving him green beans and less food. Shakespeare lost weight, weighing in at 24 pounds, losing six pounds.

In September, 2016, after grooming, I noticed Shakespeare was still losing weight. Occasionally, he turned away from his food and wouldn’t eat. I struggled to feed him from my hands. He wasn’t hungry. His legs began to give away and when he went outside, he would move to a corner of the back yard, ignoring me asking him to come inside. His hearing wasn’t as good as when he was younger. I noticed if I clapped my hands three times, paused and clapped three more times, while shouting “Come here, Shakespeare” after a few minutes, he would get up and move slowly towards the door.

Although I could see Shakespeare fading away, I refused to accept it. I wanted him to fight. I cradled him in my arms, telling him I loved him and I wanted him to fight. He responded by licking my face, jumping from my arms, and when his feet hit the carpeted floor, he whined.

Our nightly ritual of cuddling in the chair no longer happened unless I picked him up, and when I reached to pick him up to cuddle with me, he wiggled, moving his back legs like spaghetti. He was in pain.

The vet said he was getting older. He reminded me that most schnauzers have a lifespan of about 14 years. Shakespeare was 13. He would be 14 in April. I wasn’t ready to lose him.

Over the next six months of his life, Shakespeare wanted to go outside less, and when he did go outside, he squatted. He could not lift those painful rear legs like most boys do. He would look in my direction, as if he was saying, “Don’t watch me. Don’t watch me fading away from you.”

In December, Shakespeare could not hold his bladder. He would urinate on the floor in the breakfast room. Sometimes he would do other business there. We placed puppy papers on the floor nightly since he was sleeping there now. I let him know I was not upset with him. I understood. His body was getting older and he was fading away. He licked my face to let me know he understood and he loved me.

On March 7, 2017, we made the decision to have the vet check him over and see if it was time to let him go. Our vet knows how much we love our animals. After examining Shakespeare, he looked at me with tears streaming down my face he said: “You’re making the right decision.”

I held Shakespeare in my arms. I told him it was time to see Shamus again. He lifted his left paw, touching me, and he kissed me one last time.

My arms were holding him as he went to sleep. The vet gave us a few more minutes together, then he asked if we were ready. Since Shakespeare was sleeping, I nodded. I heard Shakespeare’s last breath, and he was gone.

How I wanted to bring him back, but I knew he was suffering, weighing only 17.6 pounds on this date. He was so tiny now it was easy to pick him up. After losing him, guilt almost tore my heart out. I questioned everything while realizing we did the most humane thing by letting him go. I did not want him to die alone in the house with only his brothers around, nor did I want him to die in darkness.

I prayed that God would welcome him into the gates of Heaven and let him find Shamus so he would not be alone. I reminded God that Shakespeare did not like the dark, and I prayed for a sign to let me know he was ok and happy.

A few days later, I found a fly inside the house, flying around my desk. I was writing at the time so I did not pay attention to the fly until I found it floating inside my coffee cup.

“Shakespeare!” I cried. “You’re here. You’re letting me know you are OK.”

Through blinding tears, I smiled, remembering how Shakespeare detested when anything got in the water bowls, especially IF it was a fly. He would sit while taking his front paws, moving them into the water, attempting to remove the fly. After a few minutes, he would bark – his demanding little bark. He refused to drink any dirty water, or water that contained a fly.

Staring at the fly floating in my coffee cup, I picked it up, poured it out and washed the cup, while remembering my precious, silly, demanding Sir Shakespeare Hemingway.

A few nights later, I had a dream. Shakespeare was sitting on a hillside with the greenest pastures I’ve ever seen in life or while dreaming. He barked and wiggled and barked once more. In the brightness of the lights of Heaven, Shakespeare barked one more time, then he turned to run away while looking in my direction. Yes, Sir Shakespeare Hemingway Cooper was in Heaven, playing with Prince Marmaduke Shamus Cooper. Little Shake n’ Bake and Shamey-Pooh were together again.

Yes, today is a sad day for me. A day of remembrance and so much everlasting love.

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To All Concerned About Hurricane Irma


Dearest Readers:

In a few minutes, I will tuck my animals to bed and I will slip into my bed to rest after a fitful night of tossing and turning last night.

I found it difficult to sleep. Worrying about strangers desperate to get out of Florida and the traffic congestion created due to a hurricane. I have friends in Florida. One friend I’ve known for many years, now in a wheel chair. Another friend from high school. Relatives. Funny, although we haven’t seen one another in too many years, we keep in touch via Facebook. Now, I have no idea where these friends are, but I know in a few days I will hear from at least one of them. Then, I can take a fresh breath of air, thankful all is OK.

I have faith. I believe…and I pray. Daily. And nightly.

If you are reading this curious as to where your friends are, I ask you to pray. Believe. Keep the faith.

Earlier today, I cancelled our hotel reservations for Monday. Since it appears that Hurricane Irma will only kiss the coast of South Carolina with tropical storms, we decided it would be safer for us to remain here in our home. Besides, someone from Florida might need that room.  Our home is brick. It survived Hurricane Hugo, a Category Four hurricane when it arrived on the Charleston Harbor. Our home survived Hurricane Matthew last year. What it didn’t survive was the torrential ‘100 Year Rains,’ in October 2015. Our roof leaked due to wind and hail. Actually, it poured from the damage of two sky lights. When State Farm Insurance declined our claim of wind and hail damage, we chose to shop elsewhere for homeowner’s and wind and hail insurance. Let’s just say, State Farm lost a good customer and I tell all of my friends to shop around.

South Carolina insurance is so antiquated and restricted I suggest all who even think about moving to South Carolina to ‘do your homework. This state is a bit behind the times in many ways.’

But, tonight, I am writing to wish everyone affected with the threat of Hurricane Irma to have faith. Pray. Hug your family tightly while knowing God is there with you.

And when the electricity is gone for a few days or weeks, just remember, the horror of the storm is over. Be thankful. How I remember after Hurricane Hugo how thankful I was. Even though our home was damaged, at that time, our homeowner’s insurance covered almost everything. We were blessed back then. Unfortunately, after Hugo, that insurance company filed for bankruptcy. Now, I’m not so certain about ‘the new regulations pertaining to insurance in South Carolina,’ but when and if the winds and tropical storms of Hurricane Irma arrive, I will cuddle my pups closely to comfort them, and I will hug my husband tightly. I’m thankful and I’m hopeful IF we have damage the insurance company will cover it. One thing I do not wish to ever hear again from any insurance company are the words from the lips of the State Farm adjuster. “You’re not covered!”

How can that be? We’ve spent thousands of dollars, only to hear ‘you’re not covered?’

Let’s just say, I cancelled them!

God is here with us, and with all of you. We must believe and have faith.

And now, I wish all of you a peaceful night of rest, until the morning arrives.

Tomorrow is a new day. Hurricane Irma is not supposed to arrive around here until Monday or so. I haven’t listened to the latest reports. After listening to them all day, I’m a bit burned out. Regardless when she arrives, for this household, it will be a new day. The sun will eventually peak out behind the gray clouds and a new chapter in my life will begin.

And then, I will breathe. I will inhale. Breathe. Exhale. And give thanks. Then, I will whisper, Good riddance, Irma. So glad you are leaving us behind.

Until tomorrow!cropped-cropped-arthur-ravenel-bridge.jpg

 

Hurricane Irma


Dearest Readers:

This will be brief. Today, I’ve spent the day getting ready in the event Irma comes to town. I pray this monster category 5 hurricane will decrease in strength and wind.

The USA does not need another tragedy after Hurricane Harvey.

If you are nearby the Florida Coast, please do what the Governor of Florida suggested on The Weather Channel tonight.

While it is a bit early for us to decide what we will do IF Irma comes to our community, we will take our animals if we leave. We have crates. Yes, they detest them, but this isn’t a normal time.

I’m trying to keep my cool, but after Hurricane Hugo, I suppose I am just a bit cautious and fearful. Of course I admit, I spent way too much time watching the Weather Channel during Hurricane Harvey. Sometimes a bit of knowledge learned can cause anxiety.

I’ve dealt with insurance companies after a storm, especially State Farm after the 100 hundred year rains in South Carolina in October, 2015. It is not a pleasant experience learning that regardless of the Homeowner’s; and the infamous Wind and Hail coverage, we were told “You’re not covered.”

We had flood insurance. Funny thing about flood insurance. You must have rising waters for a flood. Silly me. Our flood inside the house was due to a damaged roof…but no coverage. FEMA said no to. Seems we were still in ‘livable condition.’

We had to get an SBA Disaster Assistance loan to get our home repaired…and now, that it is repaired and quite impressive, we must worry about another hurricane.

Maybe we should live on the moon!

For tonight, I wish and pray for all in Florida to be safe, especially the friends and family members I have in Florida. I pray for us to be safe too and I’m still praying for Houston and the State of Texas.arthur-ravenel-jr-bridge

I suppose I’ll just worry about homeowner’s insurance and wind and hail insurance later. At least, we have flood insurance — whatever that means!

Stay safe, everyone. We have intense fires on the West coast now, and hurricanes on the East coast. What’s next? Another eclipse?

Oh please! Good night all!

 

Happy 14th Birthday, My Love…


Dearest Readers:

Tomorrow, Tuesday, April 11, 2017, Sir Shakespeare Hemingway would be 14-years-old. Unfortunately, we had to make a decision to let him go on March 7, 2017. Truly one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made. I ache for him. I cry…and cry…and CRY! I am so lost without him, even though I have four dogs to care for and to love now.

Shakespeare was a most loving, interesting and funny dog. In my heart, he wasn’t a dog, but a family member. A close friend. He watched me and he knew my actions. When he wanted to take a walk, he would slap at the leashes hanging nearby. When he wanted Clean Water, he would take his right paw and scratch at the water bowl — just to let me know he was not drinking dirty water. If the floor in the kitchen was sandy, or a bit soiled, he refused to eat his food until I cleaned the area.

Now that he is gone, I check the water bowls daily, just to make certain they are clean and not empty.

The other day while I rested, I felt something tap my hip three times. I looked over – to rub Shakespeare, only I could not find him. Yes, he is here in spirit. If only I could see him one more time.

A few weeks after he left us, I noticed a few flies in my writing area. I poured another cup of coffee, curious as to why I had so many flies flying around my home. I wrote an email, reaching for my coffee cup. Much to my surprise, there was a fly floating in my coffee.

I thought of Shakespeare, remembering other times when he was younger when he refused to drink from his water bowl simply because there was a fly in it. Shakespeare nudged my leg. That was his way of letting me know something needed attention. I remember speaking to him, asking him what he wanted. When he moved towards the water bowl, he glanced at it, and stared at me, as if to say, “Would you please clean my water bowl? I do not like dirty water, or anything floating in my water bowl.”

For weeks, I prayed God would give me a sign that Shakespeare was in Heaven. Recognizing the symbolism of a fly in my coffee cup was absolutely perfect. Only Shakespeare would know the significance of the fly in my coffee cup. Shakespeare communicated to me telling me he was all right and he understands why he had to leave us. One month and six days after he passed, I still cry. I still wish to hold him close. To take him for a walk…and to make certain he was nearby.

Tomorrow, I will celebrate his 14th birthday in memory of him. My way of letting him know how special he was to me. Now and forever, I will always love you, Sir Shakespeare Hemingway.

Happy 14th birthday, my precious.

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My Dearest Sir Shakespeare Hemingway


035Dearest Readers:

Today is Tuesday, March 28, 2017. Exactly three weeks ago today, my husband and I made the decision to let our precious almost 14-year-old mini schnauzer leave us to go home to Heaven. How I miss that precious little boy. He was my friend. My dearest and most trusting friend.

Shakespeare joined our family in May 2003. He was six weeks old when we brought him home. I remember him resting in my arms, crawling up to rest on my chest. One of his favorite places to rest was either on a pillow, or my chest. How I wish I could cradle him in my arms just one more time.

I cannot stop crying. The tsunami of grief overtakes me as a rush of fresh tears pour from my eyes. Every morning, I still feel his presence in the bed. He loved to sleep next to my right hip. During the day, he followed me every where I went. When I rehearsed a new song, Shakespeare would sit up, listening to me, and when I sat down next to him, he touched me with his left leg. Then, he would crawl into my legs, crossed on the floor and rest as I petted him.

I am a bit surprised at how depressed and alone I feel after letting him go. Almost five years ago, we had to make the same decision for Prince Marmaduke Shamus. After that tsunami of grief, I told myself I would not permit myself to grieve in such a desperate way again, but here I am — crying until my heart breaks over and over again.

My other boys just heard me bursting into another throbbing heartbreak. Prince Midnight Shadow rushed to my side, whining, not understanding. Sandy Bear Sebastian is curled on the right side of my foot, next to the pillow Shakespeare loved. After Shakespeare died, Sandy Bear kept looking all over the house, rushing to look behind his dad’s chair. No. Shakespeare isn’t here. Maybe he’s on the pillow. No. No Shakespeare.

He is still looking for him. After he died, Sandy Bear became depressed and when he heard me crying, he wanted more attention. He didn’t understand. Funny. Neither do I. I’ve talked to Sandy Bear letting him know Shakespeare is not visual in our house, but he is still here in spirit.

Isn’t that how the loss of a loved one is? One minute, you are with them, maybe laughing or crying, and in the next minute — POOF! The person is gone – forever.

I suppose I do not understand death, nor do I understand why animals cannot live longer. They come into our lives, steal our hearts and souls and in their later years, we realize they are preparing to leave us…just like Shakespeare was.

He was not eating regularly. How I wish I had documented the days he did not eat, but I didn’t. On an average, probably two days each week he refused any food, including treats.

At his biggest, Shakespeare weighed 34 pounds. The vet suggested giving him green beans and cutting his food back a bit. It worked. Shakespeare loved green beans and his weight decreased to a healthy 26 pounds. At Christmas of 2016, I noticed he was easier to lift. He did not like us to pick him up. He was extremely independent and wanted only to be picked up on his terms. He was getting skinny. In February, I could feel his ribs.

I planned to take him to the vet, but I was horrified my vet would say, “if he was my dog, I’d let him go.”

I wasn’t ready. Selfish and horrified over losing him, I could not let him go. Not during the holidays.

Three weeks ago, I faced the reality that he was not getting better, only weaker with each day. He was telling me it was time to leave since he was lethargic, not eating, and only moving around when I touched him to go outside. His spirit was gone. Energy – non – existent. I kept telling myself tomorrow he would be better. He only got weaker.

Today, I am still crying an ocean of tears. My body shakes and my heart feels empty. Just how do I learn to let go and walk thru this grief. I miss my little Shake n Bake so much. No, I will not get another animal. I still have four who need me.

Meanwhile, I must make peace with myself. In memory of my precious Sir Shakespeare Hemingway. How I wish I could feel at peace over the decision we had to make. I suppose I do not understand how we can make those decisions for animals, but not humans.

A few days ago, after praying for a sign that Shakespeare was at peace, a fly flew into my cup of coffee. I noticed a few flies flying around my windows inside, but I didn’t think anything about them with exception they are such pests. When I discovered a fly floating in my coffee, I realized it was a sign from him. Shakespeare watched me every morning, recognizing one of my first morning rituals was to get a cup of coffee and sit at my writing desk with it. He knew coffee would get me moving, and he knew I would recognize his message, especially after he let me know he would not drink his water IF it was dirty, or had a fly. Over the years, he pawed at his water bowl many times. His actions told me he only wanted clean water. Shakespeare was great at communicating without saying anything. His actions said so much. The flies inside my house are now gone. Weird? Perhaps! A sign from Shakespeare – most definitely!

I am a bit relieved that he sent me a message. If only I could scoop him up in my arms and sing to him again. My little precious, Sir Shakespeare Hemingway, I will love you always. I will never forget you, and I know one day, we will be reunited.

Communicating With Shakespeare


Dearest Readers:

I suppose some of you will think I’ve lost my mind. As my closest friends know, I have visions and a strong belief in God. My grandmother had the gift of visions. After she passed away, that gift found me. I had visions of men dressed all in black, attacking planes – two days before 9-11. The early morning hours of July 6, 1999, [3:45 am] I dreamed my dad was dying at the nursing home. He passed away on that date at 5:45 pm. When my husband was in Vietnam, I dreamed visions of him in a fight with the VC. Two days before my grandfather passed away, I dreamed of his death. All of these visions were true.
Since losing Sir Shakespeare Hemingway two weeks ago, I’ve been praying for a sign. A sign or vision that he understood and that he knew his time with us was over since he was so terribly sick. A sign from him for love and acceptance.
When Shakespeare was healthy and he needed water in the bowl, if the bowl was empty, he would scratch at it, letting me know he needed water in the bowl. Another silly, picky thing he would do with his water bowl is — if the bowl was a bit soiled, or If there was a fly resting inside the bowl, he refused to drink the water. He would paw at the bowl, pushing it into view. This was his way of letting me know he wanted fresh water.
Occasionally, we have flies in the house. This morning (and it is the first morning EVER that this has happened), I have my coffee cup on my desk. When I went to drink it, I saw a fly in my coffee cup!
Strange? Perhaps. Shakespeare is communicating with me! Thank you, Shakespeare. I love you and miss you more than words can ever say.
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Learning To Walk Through Grief


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Dearest Readers:

Exactly two weeks ago today, I had to say goodbye to sweet, precious almost 14-year-old Sir Shakespeare Hemingway. While writing this, tears gush from my eyes. How I miss that precious little mini-schnauzer, my best friend who loved for me to rub his ears.

If you’ve never had to make the decision to say goodbye to your precious four-legged friends, you might not understand the tsunami of tears I’ve shed, along with the aching break of my heart.

People say I’m too sensitive. Tender hearted. He’s just a dog. Get over it. To them, I say – you are not my friend. You do not understand. Shakespeare was truly a member of my family. We took walks together, until Prince Marmaduke Shamus passed away in 2012. I continued walking Shakespeare after losing Shamey-Pooh…just not on a regular basis.

That was my mistake. Selfish and painful. Each time I attempted to walk after his loss, I missed Shamus so much. Now that I’ve lost Shakespeare I still have four-legged friends. I will take them for walks, in memory of sweet Shakespeare Hemingway, my little “Shake n Bake,” and I will move on. I haven’t a clue when the tsunami of tears will leave. I still feel Shakespeare’s presence. The other night, I heard a sigh. His spirit was here.

Earlier today, I felt something touch my leg, just like Shakespeare would do. Another tsunami of tears, and I struggled to breathe. At home, I’m finding myself a bit short of breath, so today, I forced myself to go away for a bit. I went shopping, or maybe I should say window shopping. I dropped by Petco, bursting into tears again. I rushed back home. Lately, I’m a hermit, lounging all day in pajamas. Truly not the person I desire to be.

I know I must walk through the grief, just like I did with Shamey-Pooh. Now, the question is how to walk through the grief.

As a writer, I should know how to handle myself during grief. I’ve lost many loved ones, including my dad in 1999 after a terminal illness. Losing Shakespeare is different. He depended on me and he loved me unconditionally. We shared 13 beautiful years together. I am so thankful for that and for how he always greeted me when I came home from trips or work. Rushing to be first, he leaped towards me, barking with excitement and happiness. The last few months of his life, he didn’t respond unless I clapped my hands three times. There were many times he refused to eat for an entire day. In 2015, he weighed 27.5 pounds. On the day he left, his weight was 17.6, losing 10 pounds in less than two years.

Yes, I will ache. My heart will burst with this indescribable pain, and the tsunami of tears will gush from my eyes. Tomorrow, I must attempt to take steps to walk through this grief. I have a new leash to use for Shadow, my giant schnauzer. Perhaps tomorrow will be a good day to walk – In Memory of Sir Shakespeare Hemingway. How I love you and miss you!

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