Monday, February 16, 2015

Once Upon a Yorkie

This is the most difficult post I've ever written. I can't seem to find the right words, so I am taking a convoluted route, picking my way around the heart of darkness.

The late Barbara Stanwyck once said, "No matter how horrible things are, they can always get worse." They can, and will. "In the meantime, keep busy," my Mimi used to say. In good times and bad, working on the blog has been a joy and a lifesaver, even if I always added a few teaspoons of vanilla flavoring to each post.
The decorating and recipes are a small, sweet corner. As for the rest, I have not quite been myself since last Thanksgiving, but I surely won't go into that. Privately, my good friends have started calling me Job, always wondering when a plague of frogs would arrive.

Like many of us who blog, I've quietly faced serious issues and barely hinted at them.{And boy, that's a whole other post...blogging has changed so much, I hardly know how to do it anymore.} Some situations concerned our home; another was centered around a family member; health problems plagued my beloved furkids--all of these matters were pretty much unfixable. For my Yorkies, I managed to buy some time. Last year, Zap was given a few weeks to live, as his diabetes has just worn out his little body; but he is still with me and doing better. Bandwidth weighs the prescription dog food, so that Z receives a calculated amount of food twice a day--very important to regulate diabetes. Also, I give him daily sub-Q infusions of Ringer's. By the grace of God, Zap is holding his own.

However, last fall Mister was diagnosed with liver cancer. The vet didn't think our boy would last the weekend, but I firmly believe that "where there's life, there's hope." Bandwidth and I set up an ICU in the den. We took turns going to the grocery and running errands, so that one of us was always home. [I won't go anywhere unless my dogs can go, too.  This hasn't always been well-received, but it was, and is, the only option for me.] Bandwidth and I gave Mister round-the-clock care, from cooking special foods (anything to tempt his appetite) to twice daily IV infusions. When I was in the kitchen, he sat in his stroller, looking at me with an alert, "feed me" expression, waiting for a little taste. The vet was amazed that Mister stayed with us this long. But I could see him starting to fade. Last night, my little fella gave us a long, loving look, as if to say, "Love you forever...and remember, I'll see you on the other side." Then he slipped away in our arms. Thank you, Lord, for letting him go peaceably.
He was my heart. 


Mister's photo appeared on the dust jacket of my 6th book. When I'd leave for a book tour, he would bite my ankles and try to keep me in the house. And while I was gone (I always arranged tours so I wouldn't be gone for more than 2 consecutive days--and in past years, I would drive hours so I could be home that same night), Tyler said that Mister sat by the door, his head on his paws, waiting for mom. 

Seven years ago, when I started blogging, Mister assisted me through countless baking and tablescaping episodes. Once, when my husband left the table to answer the phone, Mister leaped onto the table and gobbed a New York strip steak. My husband returned, flummoxed. Mister gave him an innocent look.

You can try to mentally prepare for a loss, but you're never ready for it.


On HGTV's old RMS and on the blog, Mister was well-known as a decorating Yorkie.  

Mister Big West
Our Sweet Boy
December 21, 2003 - February 15, 2015


"Warm summer sun, shine kindly here;
Warm southern wind, blow softly here;
Green sod above, lie light, lie light--
Good-night, dear heart, good-night,
good-night."

-- Mark Twain, Epitaph for his daughter

76 comments:

  1. My sympathy - I can tell he took a piece of your heart with him. Rest in Peace dear Mister.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh, my dear, I am SO very sorry! I am crying because my two Yorkies are tucked up beside me keeping warm while it's so cold and snowing. I am divorced and they are my heart, my family, the loves of my life. They are 8 years old now, and showing some age, and I fear the day when I no longer have them and hold them in my heart. So today, I shall be holding you in my heart. Because I know that you are absolutely devastated. Abi bites my ankles when I leave and both have terrible anxiety when I do go, which is why I don't go out much. I don't know anything to say to make you feel less stricken, but know that I am grieving with you in Tulsa, OK. And I know your pain cannot be lessened with anything but time. A lot of time. I wish I could hug you and I'm not the hugging type.
    Brenda

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh, and one more thing. I'd much rather read reality so I could feel I know you better than read posts laden with vanilla syrup.
    Brenda

    ReplyDelete
  4. Oh Michael.... I am so sorry. My dogs are like my children to me, as I know they are to you, and when you lose them, it's one of the worst pains in the world.
    I wish I was there to give you a big hug and a shoulder to cry on, but all I can do is say a prayer for you and Mister and let you know that I'm here, always.

    Love you, my friend.
    rue

    ReplyDelete
  5. Oh honey I know how much you loved your Yorkies..My heart just ache for you and your family..I had 5 yorkies all at the same time..a mama and all her babies..God bless..hugs and love gloria

    ReplyDelete
  6. Oh Michael Lee, I'm so very, very sorry about the loss of your sweet Mister. I know he appreciated all your loving care through the years. He was blessed to have you as his mom and you were blessed to have him in your life. I'm sending hugs and kisses across the miles to try to ease your sorrow.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Oh, Michael Lee, broken heart here with this news. Your photos are beautiful, and I'm happy you felt you could share this. I fell in love with the dogs of Rattlebridge the first time I visited. Sending you much love and comfort during this difficult time. It's so very painful! The words of Mark Twain for exquisite. I'd not read them before, but will remember this beautiful epitaph.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I am so very sorry for your loss...I also lost my best friend last winter and I am still heartbroken...Thankfully I have two others who help me so much. Remember we will see all our friends at the Rainbow Bridge someday...Again so very sorry...

    ReplyDelete
  9. oh no. I am saddened to hear this. I wish I had comforting words for you at this time. Our Mikey is in good health at eleven and a half, but I do not want to think of when he is no longer with us. I try to remember that we brought him home to a loving family...where he is the star and very loved. But our doggies do so much for the family...unconditional love probably best sums it up. Just cry I guess. Holding it in makes the emotion harder. I wish I were a better counselor. I will sum up by saying that all good dogs go to heaven! God gave us these wonderful companions...and I sure hope we get to find each other on the other side! sheila

    ReplyDelete
  10. I am so very, very sorry for the passing of your sweet Mister. That is heartbreaking. Mister will always be your sweet boy. Love is transcendent, and I believe he's still right by your side.

    ReplyDelete
  11. so very sad and heartbreaking. I write with tears in my eyes. I lost my sweet Yorky baby Lucy, she was 14-1/2 and my constant companion and love. I miss her and think about her everyday. Your baby was a lucky doggie to be so loved by you and given the care and comfort in his last days. Love Rita @May Days

    ReplyDelete
  12. there's nothing like the love of a dog. so sorry for your loss.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Our fur-kids fill our lives with joy and it's incredibly sad they can't stay with us longer. What else in this world, makes us laugh, makes us cry, and gives unconditional love without ever saying a word. hugs to ya'll.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I am so sorry to hear about your Mister. We lost our Westie, Bailey, three weeks ago to brain cancer. I have pretty much cried every single day since it happened. On Saturday, Valentine's Day, was a much happier day, though. Little Baxter, s seven-year-old (same age as Bailey when he passed), Yorkie/Poodle mix, came into our lives and now there are many more smiles than tears. Each day gets better, but I don't think the pain ever completely goes away.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I'm so sorry to hear of your loss. I lost my Yorkie last April, and I miss him every day. He was as mean as a snake, but I adored him. It does become bearable, and you'll have wonderful memories. I'll be thinking of you.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Tears are pooling in my eyes, such a loving dear sweet tribute... he could not have had a better mommy, you and bandy carried his little soul farther than anyone imagined. It sounds like a peaceful passing. It's time to rejoice him, not mourn him, he is pain free and you can look back at all the joyful moments knowing you had given him the greatest life ever. May your tears soon be nothing but smiles for mister... and hug close everyone else. Hugs to you and bandy.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I am so sorry for the passing of Mister. It is so difficult to lose one of our 4 legged family members and the loss is greatly felt. May your wonderful memories of Mister help you during this time.
    ~Tammy

    ReplyDelete
  18. I am so sorry to hear about Mister, I know today is a very sad day for you and your family. You are in my thoughts and prayers!
    Rest in peace, sweet Mister.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I am so sorry for your loss and completely understand your not wanting to be away for long. Molly is our constant loving companion and at age 12 we are seeing lots of changes. It is important we continue keeping her close. She's a lifesaver for us.
    I'll be thinking of you.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Awl, ML, I am sitting here with tears running down my face. I am so sad for you that your fur baby has gone to Rainbow Bridge. It hurts. It hurts A LOT. My little sister lost her dog two days ago - been a sad dog week to be sure.

    May you find comfort with your memories and hugs of your loved ones around you. Wish I was there with a hot cuppa and a warm hug or two. ♥ Will keep you all in my prayers. Hang in there, friend.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I'm so sorry for the loss of your special boy. We love our babies like you do. I love reading what you were willing to do for your pup. Mister was so blessed to have you in his life doing whatever it took for his care. What a love we share with our babies.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I'm sorry. I have a Yorkie that looks so much like yours. She has health issues as well. They are like children and loosing them is just heartbreaking. Hugs

    ReplyDelete
  23. I'm so sorry Michael. I know how hard it is to lose a fur baby, I wish they could live as long as we do. I shed a few tears for Mister, it looks like he had a long, loving life. Take care.

    ReplyDelete
  24. My heart goes out to you, I've been there and it's so hard to say goodbye. Our furr babies are such a part of the family.
    Blessings,
    Cindy

    ReplyDelete
  25. I am so sorry for your loss. Thoughts and prayers as you try to readjust. fondly ~lynne~

    ReplyDelete
  26. Your post has brought tears to my eyes. I also have a little dog who is my life, I am a senior woman who lives alone. I know how much comfort your dog has brought you over the years and how they become like one of your children. Such a loss cannot be measured or completely understood by others. My dog is 13 years now, has had three surgeries, has a bad back, but still hangs in there, and I am trying to prepare myself that I will not have him forever. I pray that God will comfort you, and I truly believe that your precious one will reunite with you on the other side, and will frequently visit you in the meantime, as my first dog did for many years after passing. When I try to post to your blog, it only allows me to post as unknown, I am not that computer literate to figure out how to make it let me post by my name, which is Patrice. I do love your blog.

    ReplyDelete
  27. I can tell that Mister brought you many hours and years of pleasure...it's so hard to let go but their bodies wear out and we don't like to see them suffer. My son had a red nose pit that had to be put down a year ago...she was our "grand-dog" and such a sweetheart...I cried and cried when I found out. Our Allie is going down more and more each day...she won't be with us much longer I don't imagine.

    Prayers and good thoughts for the sad days ahead.

    ReplyDelete
  28. My heart aches with you, Michael. Our furkids are only with us for such a short time. Know that you gave him a wonderful life, and imagine him playing without suffering across the Rainbow Bridge. Hugs to you.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Oh Michael Lee I am so sorry to hear of your loss. Our fur babies are family and the hole they leave in our heart is immense as they move on. Sending you love and light to strengthen you. I type this as one of my fur babies sits on her pillow in my lap. She is a comfort and I wish you the same.
    ~ ~Ahrisha~ ~

    ReplyDelete
  30. I was afraid to open this because I had a bad feeling something happened. With tears rolling down my cheeks, I am so sorry to hear about Mister. My only children were 4-legged ones and I truly feel your pain. You and Bandwitch will be in my thoughts and prayers. What a beautiful post you've written to celebrate his life. Sending big hugs your way.
    xxoo,
    Sam

    ReplyDelete
  31. Oh my, I have tears rolling down my cheeks. I am so sorry for your loss. Your sweet Mister certainly left paw prints on your heart. I wish you peace as you heal.

    ReplyDelete
  32. I'm so very sorry to read of the passing of your "Mister"...he sure was a cutie! He was a dedicated, loyal & humorous little guy. Much like my "Mister"!! I'll return the virtual (((hug))) you sent to me days ago & hope that the fun memories you have of your poochie, romping & playing will fill the void left by his passing.

    fondly,
    Rettabug

    ReplyDelete
  33. Michael Lee I am so very sorry for the loss of your precious furbaby. (((hugs)))
    Glenda

    ReplyDelete
  34. This just breaks my heart to hear news like this. You can really get attached to animals. They become family. I have a little dog and he is 10 yrs. old, it breaks my heart to think of anything happening to him. My heart goes out to you and your family. Mister will always be in your heart, he left his paw print there. Praying that God will comfort you and your family and ease your broken hearts. What an adorable little dog....''RIP MISTER"!

    ReplyDelete
  35. Mister had a special place in my heart even though we hadn't met. Our furry children will always be in our heart. I am very sorry for your loss. xxoo
    Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.
    Dr. Seuss

    ReplyDelete
  36. I'm so sorry, I know how our "pets" are really our family. May he stay in your heart forever...

    ReplyDelete
  37. I am so, so sorry for the loss of your precious and dear Mister. I know your pain and I know nothing can alleviate it.
    If you believe in signs, you should ask Mister to send you one to ease your heart a bit.

    ReplyDelete
  38. I know. I know. I've lost two in the last couple years. It's a hole in your heart that doesn't go away but does get a little easier with time. Mister is just waiting for you in a different and wonderful place.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Crying so much I can barely type, rest in peace, Mister Big, you were loved and will be missed. I am sure he is running around the Rainbow Bridge.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Oh I am so sorry on the loss of Mister. I live alone and my 2 dogs are my best friends, they are always waiting for me at the gate. I always tell them where I am going and that seems to satisfy them.
    I know that Mister loved you so very much and he will be waiting for you at the Rainbow Gate. I know your pain, but it will get better with time - he will always be in your heart.
    Mary

    ReplyDelete
  41. So sad to hear of your loss of dear little Mister. Your post is a beautiful celebration of his life

    ReplyDelete
  42. Animals are very much a part of our families and our lives. Mister had a great life with you and you have awesome memories and pictures of him.
    With Sympathy,
    Lori

    ReplyDelete
  43. I am so sorry to hear of your loss. I have two labs that are my babies, and can't imagine losing them.

    ReplyDelete
  44. It is sad when we lose one of our little furry friends. I am so sorry for the loss of your little buddy, ML. Mister will always be in your heart. Beautiful post.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Thru my tears, I'm sending positive mojo your way. My own sophiejane is 14 and not faring well. I truly understand your pain.....from experience with my last one, all I can offer is the idea of time. He will never leave you as long as you know his lil spirit is in your heart. Cry. Throw tantrums. Scream. Do every dingle dangle thing you wanna do cuz you are pissed off without him -- it will make you feel better. (((hugs)))

    ReplyDelete
  46. I am so sorry to read this and to know how long you've been struggling privately about your little Mister. What a beautiful tribute- the Mark Twain epitaph is lovely. Our pets get wrapped around our hearts and souls don't they. I pray the days will get easier for you, please take care.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Oh - this is awful, dreadful news. Words seem inadequate...but I am truly sorry.

    I can empathize. It brushes up against my own wound. I lost my sweet Lily on January 31st. She was thirteen. We had to euthanize her. At least the whole family was there....

    I hung a black balloon with her name on it at our mailbox. I had to do something. Now I have a little temporary shrine on a table I pass everyday. I've placed a candle, her collar, tags, and her pawprint pressed into clay (the vet took it that morning) on a silver pedestal cake stand. And a lily. I haven't had the heart to take her food table away yet.

    This is going to sound terrible, but I've cried more over her than I did when my Dad died. I don't get it.

    But this I know. God shows us his unconditional love through our furry children. With his help you will get through it. Over time. I don't know what your beliefs are, but for me as a Christian, this is tremendously important. I see Lily as more than a pet or a furry child. She was an ambassador sent by God to show me how much he loves me. And to let me pour out my love on someone completely safe and devoted. Human relationships are so fraught with emotional ups and downs and trickiness and pain. Not so our pets. And the love that I saw in Lily's eyes was only a small reflection of His. After all, isn't that what every one wants - to be loved for who we are?

    As you already know Mister was and will always be imprinted on your soul. How I ache for you. My heart feels heavy, so very heavy. Cry your tears, (I'll join you) offer up thanksgiving for his life, if you believe in that sort of thing, and know that I and many others are praying for you as you endure the empty space that he left behind.

    "Left". What an awful word...but worth every minute.

    ReplyDelete
  48. Oh dear friend ML I am very sad and the tears are many, I am so sorry to see that you have had to say goodbye to sweet Mister. He will be missed in your world and blog world, we share in your grief.

    ReplyDelete
  49. Thanks so much to everyone who left kind words about my little Mister. You all warm my heart. xxoo

    ReplyDelete
  50. So sorry for your sad news of your furbaby Mister. We all who have dogs know what pain you are going through.
    They are a great piece of your life and part of your family. Sending you lots of hugs. And when you feel able I hope you can smile again with all the happy memories you made with Mister.
    Rosezeeta x.

    ReplyDelete
  51. My heart breaks for you, losing a pet is incredibly difficult, so much innocent joy they bring~
    Jenna

    ReplyDelete
  52. I am so sorry for the loss of Mister....he was a very special boy, I can tell by the loving tribute to him.....

    ReplyDelete
  53. I'm so very sorry for your loss. Sending prayers and hugs

    ReplyDelete
  54. Michael Lee,
    When I came here tonight I just sat with the tears rolling down my face, as if I could just sit quietly with you because I feel the pain of your loss. Like so many others I fell in love with the precious little dogs of Rattlebridge, what a joy Mister was to so many. I am so sorry that Mister has gone on to be with all of our little loves and I am so sorry for you deep loss. Please give a special hug to Zap, he has a special spot in my heart,because of my late Andre'. You and Bandwidth with be in my thoughts and prayers.
    Miz Helen

    ReplyDelete
  55. I'm so sorry to hear of the loss of your sweet furbaby. I can tell by the your post how precious he was to you!

    ReplyDelete
  56. I am so very, very sorry for your loss....When reading this post, I could just feel the heartbreak in losing such an important part of the family...the one with the unconditional love, the one who, no matter your mood, was always there to love and comfort you. May you find comfort in knowing that he is at peace and will be waiting for you with his head on his paws. Again, I am so very sorry for the loss of sweet Mister.

    ReplyDelete
  57. Michael Lee, I am teary eyed reading this. I have a special place in my heart for the dogs of Rattlebridge Farm. Your photos of them are wonderful and your words are heartfelt. Thinking of you. Doggie kisses from Chloe & Gracie ♥

    ReplyDelete
  58. I am ever so heartbroken for you. For some time, I have been such a huge fan of your blog and join you on Fridays! I have followed the sweet stories of the Yorkies. It is so devastating to lose our beloved pets and my prayers are with you. What a lovely tribute you gave your Mister. Big hugs my darling...

    ReplyDelete
  59. I am so, so, sad for you. My Bedlingtons are the world to me. I cannot bear to think of the day when one of them will not be by my side. My heart goes out to you! Sending lots of love your way.

    - Alma,The Tablescaper

    ReplyDelete
  60. Michael Lee, I offer my deepest sympathy to you and your family for the loss of your beloved friend. So many of our life experiences are shaped by the presence of our dogs. Indeed we truly would be different people without having shared so many years with a faithful and steady companion. Part of who you are is a result of your love for and from Mister, and that part of you will always both ache and rejoice when you think of him. I am glad that you were able to see his peaceful transition and ease his journey. Thinking of you with tears and prayers. Linda

    ReplyDelete
  61. Oh Nooo, not Mister, I am so sorry to read this, I am sending you hugs and sympathy from our house to yours. Not only did we lose my Father unexpectedly last October, but a week later we lost our little Border Terrier Charley. There is not a day that goes by that we haven't cried for both. Thank goodness we have our memories ~ Robyn & Jacob

    ReplyDelete
  62. I couldn't through as I'm very emotional when it comes to animal...
    I grew up with dogs and cats, and it's like hell when one dies.
    I can only send you a bigggggggggggggg hug

    ReplyDelete
  63. oh, I am so sorry to hear about this! It is such a heartache to lose these beloved pets! We can't have them anymore because we are both so severely allergic but I still remember the grief of losing pets. They are one of the family! Hugs going out to you!

    ReplyDelete
  64. My heart goes out to you. There's just no pain like losing a fur baby. It doesn't matter how long we have them, it's just not long enough. They are truly a part of your heart and your family and there's such a void when they're gone. I'll hold all of you in prayer.

    Giant Texas hugs,
    Pat

    ReplyDelete
  65. I am so sorry. Really. Nothing else can be said. I know exactly how you are feeling. They love us so much and we love them back so much. There is rarely a day that goes by that I don't think of Scrappycat.

    ReplyDelete
  66. So very sorry for your loss, I can't even imagine...

    ReplyDelete
  67. I just read about this today. I am so very sorry for your loss of Mister. There are just no words to describe your loss and your tribute is so heartwarming. May he rest in peace in doggie heaven. Hugs.

    ReplyDelete
  68. I am so sorry for your loss. Losing a pet is so difficult. Thinking of you.

    ReplyDelete
  69. Oh Michael Lee, I am so SO sorry for the loss of Mister. I remember him fondly from RMS, in fact I think that last picture was from RMS, right? You are so right in that we can NEVER be prepared for the loss. It is heartbreaking and takes a long time to get better. Your memories will help and knowing that you gave him a fabulous, happy life. XO, Pinky

    ReplyDelete
  70. Dear Michael Lee, My heart aches for you and your family - I do understand how you feel and what you are going through now....Dear sweet little Mister knows how much he was loved - you gave him a wonderful life full of love and tender care - just remember that......

    ReplyDelete
  71. I'm so sorry for your loss dear...it is so hard to lose a beloved pet.

    ReplyDelete
  72. I am so late reading this and am so very sorry for your loss. I know you loved him so much just like I love my Bailey girl. They are a family member and not just a pet. I hope your heart hurts a little less each day.

    ReplyDelete
  73. I am so sorry for your loss. You have a lot of things going on. I wish you peace in this turmoil. Often wonder why dogs live short lives. Maybe we are just to keep going and honor them.

    ReplyDelete