Hi everyone! I promised I'd write once I got my new computer, so I could update you on how things are going here in Chicago!
Well, the good news is, I've gotten to do a lot of fun things. With my parents and Auntie Em and Uncle J, I got to go to the Frank Loyd Wright House, downtown Chicago, and the horse race track. I also got to go out to lunch with my grandparents and Aunt Bea, and tomorrow or the next day I am going to Six Flags with Aunt Bea and my little cousins Pony Girl and Sox Boy. It has been great!
On the other hand, some thing aren't going so well.
A few weeks ago, I found out that member of my immediate family (I can't specify who because the family member hasn't told many people yet) has cancer. It is treatable, but it is cancer. I had already planned my trip back to Chicago before I heard the news, and luckily the trip coincides with some of the family member's doctor appointments and tests, so I am going to be able to go with for moral support. Most of the people in my family, it turned out, knew about this for longer than I did, but they didn't want to tell me because they were afraid I'd have a meltdown. Fortunately I handled it well... I figured there is no reason to panic, and that I should just think positively and try to spend time with the person doing fun things other than thinking about cancer.
Meanwhile, in Washington, I had met a friend named Ken, who was about the age of my aunt and uncle and was their friend too. He was part of the dog walking group that we all belong to. Remember in my last post I mentioned the Border Collie who was learning how to herd ducks? And the pictures of me snuggling with the ducks? Well, the Border Collie and the ducks belonged to Ken. He is one of the best dog owners I ever met. He is divorced and lives alone except for his dog and ducks, and much of his time was devoted to doing activities with the dog and keeping the dog busy. Border Collies are very smart, and very energetic, dogs, and if they get bored they will find some sort of "puzzle" to solve... such as, "I wonder if I can destroy this entire couch?" or "Let me dig up all of these bushes and find out if there are any bones buried underneath!" Ken prided himself on never letting his dog get bored. Ken is also a very smart, kind and funny guy, who grows on you in a quiet way. You start out thinking he's just some random guy, but soon you find yourself enjoying his company and considering him a friend!
Since Auntie Em and Uncle J were planning to spend one week in Chicago (they came out at the same time as me but will go back a lot earlier) they arranged for some friends to take care of the animals. One lady took care of my fish, one lady took care of my aunt and uncle's dog Roo, and Ken was appointed in charge of the cats. He also picked us up last Friday night and drove us to the air port, with his dog in the car.
A few days later, my aunt and uncle got a phone call saying that Ken and his dog were supposed to go on a walk with two other friends from the group. When he didn't show up, they got worried and went to his house. They saw his car and saw his dog running loose in the yard, so they knew he was home, but he wasn't answering the door. So they went in... and found him lying unconscious on the floor.
He was rushed to the hospital, but the damage had been done. He'd had a major brain bleed. He would never regain consciousness. They eventually took him off life support, and today... after his beloved dog was brought in to say goodbye... he died.
I have cried all week about it. It is weird because he was not a major part of my life... I saw him a few times a week for dog walks and when I went to see the ducks.. and I didn't know him for very long. But he was a friend. And last Friday he was standing outside the airport hugging us all goodbye, promising me he'd send email updates about the ducks. And talking about how big the ducks were going to be when I got back. And now he's gone. The ducks have been given away. The dog, sadly. has no place to go... that part is especially heartbreaking to me. Ken would have never, in a million years, abandoned his dog. He would be traumatized to know that his dog's future is up in the air right now.
(I want to keep the dog, but since I am staying with my aunt and uncle it is not really up to me. But I just hope someone who knows him will keep him, so his entire world isn't blown to pieces.)
How can Ken be dead? I don't understand it. He wasn't very old. He wasn't sick He didn't engage in reckless behavior like driving drunk or doing drugs. He was active. He was always doing something. He and his dog both lived life to the fullest. He was, in no way, ready to die. He just walked into his kitchen one day and his brain exploded.
When I first heard that he was in the hospital, I tried to think positive, just as I did when I found out that my family member has cancer. I prayed and prayed. I reached out to my Facebook friends and asked them to please, say a prayer or make a wish, for Ken to be okay. I begged God to let Ken live.
But he died anyway.
I feel like the world is shattering around me. There are other things going on too that I cannot explain. Just when I thought things were going so well, the floor and walls have melted around me, leaving me twirling frantically in outerspace. Reality keeps shifting and I don't know what is right anymore. I feel like everyone around me is wearing a mask, and they sometimes peek out from behind it and scare me, and then say, "What? That wasn't me!"
And on one hand I keep on smiling and having fun... but the sadness and confusion lurks underneath it, always waiting for the next thing to happen.
I am lost.