losing cali.

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Her absence feels enormous. After over 13 years together, Cali became a part of me. My life revolved around her life. She was woven into my daily world. It’s silly to say she was more than a dog to me, but she was. She was a part of my soul, my first baby, my best friend, the child I couldn’t have for so many years.

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Our sweet Cali girl crossed the rainbow bridge on April 28th and I am painfully aware that my life with never again be the same without her presence. She brought me joy in seasons where infertility stole so much of it away. She was loyal to the end, showing us unconditional love, and quiet acceptance when her world got changed at the arrival of Kirsten and Logan. She was patient with me, put up with so many silly things we’d do, and I hope to never forget the way she smelled like nacho chips.

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Our loss, although necessary as she faced the many challenges of old age, has crippled me. My world has shifted and I miss my 8 pound best friend more than words can say. Grief is exhausting, hiding it even more draining, and if I am being honest, I often wonder if it will ever stop hurting. I wish I could go back to our last day together, cuddle her longer, thank her one last time for being such a good friend. I am alone in a world without her, which for so long was my greatest fear. It’s here I feel like I should apologize for the weight of my words, as she was, as many would say, “just a dog”, but she was more than that to me, and grief is such a personal experience. You may or may not understand, but I want to honor the life she had, the love she gave, the healing she brought me, and allow myself to feel the grief as it takes me.

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For so long, through each miscarriage or failed infertility treatment, Cali was there, providing kisses and snuggles, a gentle balm to a raw and hurting heart. She matched her emotions to mimic mine and together we would pick ourselves back up and get back in the game. We walked, talked, worked, and functioned as we needed to and soon, we learned to cope and focus our energies forward, on the next IVF cycle, or at least, making a plan. And now without her here, and the grief overwhelming, it’s hard to focus on what’s ahead.

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This may all sound morbid. Don’t worry, I am able to function as the mom and (fill in all other roles here) I need to be, but at the end of the night, when I close my eyes, I feel sad. I look over at the paw print the vet took after she passed, and I open and smell the tiny envelope filled with her fur clippings.

Sharing this here is scary, as I don’t want to overdo it and cause concern, however grief can be isolating and there is no shame in being sad when something sad happens.

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I shared this message last week on social media:

Here’s the thing about grief. It’s an unknown beast. It sneaks up on you at the strangest times & leaves you gutted when 5 minutes earlier you were “okay”. It’s not neat. It comes it waves. It can be sorrow filled or anger laden. Sometimes you want to talk about it. Sometimes you don’t. Loss is loss. It could be a dog or a person or a dream. I’m here to remind you today it’s okay to cry. It’s okay if you feel out of control with your tears. It’s okay if you’re still in the denial phase and it’s okay if you feel grief mixed with peace. Your grief is your journey. It’s part of your story. It’s okay if what made you feel better yesterday doesn’t today. It’s okay to muddle through and it’s okay if what you’re grieving isn’t what everyone considers “grief-worthy”. I’ve found the greatest way to honor grief, whether it’s been my miscarriages, or now my best fur baby friend, is by acknowledging it. Validating it’s importance to me. Not being afraid to speak its weight and to let the tears flow when they spring up from nowhere.

This isn’t shared for sympathies or pity, but for the reminder that your grief doesn’t need to be something you’re ashamed of. Let’s carry on as the strong women we are, tears and all.

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Maybe you are going through grief of some kind too. I pray you feel God’s gentle comfort and reminders of His presence as I have. I hope you also know that you can turn to Him with your tears and questions, and even if you don’t get an answer, know He has still heard you and is still with you. He is with us. And He created those we miss – whether it’s Cali, or your child, your parent or your partner. He understands love and longing.

I wanted to share just some of the most helpful and soothing things people have shared with me since her passing, in case you find yourself supporting a friend who has lost their furbaby. The key themes that stand out are validating the pain, sharing in the love and loss, and making the sympathies personal. I also feel so grateful and blessed when others acknowledge our love for her and the joy she experienced being in our family.

  • I hope you know that Cali had the BEST life full of love, and that’s all because of you.
  • Oh Cali Bug, you sure fulfilled your purpose.
  • Your sweet Cali girl touched many hearts. I always looked forward to “her” posts.
  • Cali has been loved by us all for years.
  • i know she was such a steadfast friend to you and your family.
  • I feel like Cali got so many of us through our infertility journeys.
  • (Dog name) will eat a doggie treat in her honor tonight.
  • She let you cry tears into her fur during every heartbreak you experienced and made room for two sweet babies that were prayed for and welcomed into your family.
  • We all have become attached to little Cali. My heart breaks for you.
  • She was so loved and had such a great life and family.
  • I’m am just so SO sorry for this loss…. this little girl was your first baby…. and by your side through so much. My heart is truly broken for you guys… the pain is like no other.
  • I don’t have the right words, but I’m so sorry Chelsea. That hurts the heart so deeply.
  • she will be missed by everyone
  • I 💗 Cali pictures!!!! Always with the little head tilt. She was with you through everything.
  • She was a such a sweetheart. I’ll never forget her sitting on her back to legs next to me like a human at bible study. [such] a good laugh. She had such a sweet personality.
  • I loved Cali’s cameos with your kiddos, the way she played along for special occasion photos and her classic and adorable first day of school pics. I hope you continue to post your memories with her.
  • I’m going to miss seeing her photogenic face 😭 prayers that the loss lessens over time.

Cali girl, Bugsy, Littlest, Teeny Tiny, Puppy, Cali O’Malley, Ms. Otis, Baby Bear … you, my dear first baby, taught me about unconditional love, the importance of afternoon naps, and the beauty of how God provides for us in ways we least expect it. I love you and miss you sweet girl. Run those fields of heaven, chase those squirrels, hide those Dingos, and Momma will see you again soon.

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