When Life Throws You Curve Ballsby Elise Museles
A couple of months ago, I shared my wonderful dog Willow’s story with you – how her cancer taught me incredible lessons on life, love, and letting go. She’s still with us, showing us her unconditional love…and I’m still learning.
But this isn’t about my girl. It’s about our other furry family member – the kindest, gentlest, most handsome boy you’ll ever meet. (Check out his gorgeous headshot.) His name is Jaxon – but everyone calls him “Bubs”.
Jaxon is the world’s snuggliest 80-pound “lap” dog, also known as the Master Cuddler. He loves green smoothies, ear scratches, and greeting us at the door with a treasure in his mouth (usually a water bottle). His unabashed adoration for everyone he meets has made him a legend in our neighborhood – he’s a spunky sidekick, beaming out positive energy with each wag of his golden retriever tail. He worships Willow, of course, and although she pretends to ignore his playful roughhousing, it’s easy to see she basks in his attention.
Jaxon is the consummate diplomat, making everyone in the family feel like he is their best friend. Our faithful companion has taught all of us, especially my boys, about friendship, loyalty, unconditional love, and how a simple hug can change the tone of your whole day.
He’s still a puppy in my eyes – only seven – and his perky presence has helped ease the sorrow of Willow’s declining health.
But a couple of weeks ago, the vet delivered a piece of news that rocked me to my core.
When bad things happen to good people (and dogs)
It started out as a little limp. We took him to the vet, thinking it was a muscle tear or soft tissue damage from playing too hard… but before long, we learned Jaxon needed a bone biopsy ASAP to rule out an aggressive form of cancer.
In a panic, I brought my puppy in for the painful procedure. Then came the very long wait for the diagnosis…I was an absolute wreck.
Not knowing if we needed to take action (and if so, what) rendered me powerless. I felt stuck in this strange gray area, unable to move forward or backward, blown away by the gravity of this unexpected obstacle, feeling utterly helpless. I cried…a lot.
Then, the call came.
It was cancer – a fast-moving, agonizing form of it permeating his bone. If it went untreated, he would have a month, maybe three. As the vet delivered the news, and went over the “options”, the word “amputation” was mentioned. (I tuned out.) Nothing about this diagnosis was easy, but we were told that we caught it early enough and that Jaxon had a chance to still have quality of life with successful treatment.
So, we made a plan and set it in motion. I felt in control. (But was I really?)
Life’s curve balls and the illusion of control
We like to think we’re in more control than we really are. It’s comforting to assume there’s a sort of balance to the universe, and that we’ll always get what we deserve. But sometimes, a curve ball is thrown right at us and it shakes up that tranquil assumption.
Have you ever thought you had it all planned out and then BOOM — a curve ball smacks you in the face, and your life suddenly feels out of your control?
It’s true: curve balls pull the rug from underneath us. They interfere with even the best-laid plans. But curve balls are a fact of life that can remind us of our own inability to control destiny, no matter how hard we try. We can either run from that fact, or learn to live courageously within its parameters.
Just yesterday, our family had yet another curve ball thrown at us. Our plan of action to care for our loyal companion crumbled to pieces. As Jaxon was getting ready to receive his treatment, a scan revealed that the cancer had metastasized to his lungs. I fell apart, again.
So here we are presented with our new grim reality. My family has a choice: do we shake our fist at fate and say “why us”? Or do we embrace it, find the deeper meaning, and make every moment count with our sweet & stoic furry family member?
For now, we hope to make Jaxon’s remaining days as pain-free and comfortable as possible cherishing the simple things, like just being together. And our boy, Jaxon, will continue to remind us of the fragility of life. It’s precious…curve balls and all.
Question of the day: What do you do when life throws a curve ball your way? As always, share your insights & comments below.