Shed a Little Light

I attended the funeral of a woman today whom I did not know very well personally. We’d met several times at networking functions, and I was instantly impressed by her warm presence and ability to really look someone in the eye. She was a pillar of the community and a dear friend to many of my friends and colleagues.

I can honestly say it was one of the most beautiful services I’d ever been to. No generic accolades or vague terms of endearment. This was a woman who’d truly touched people.

As stories were told of her enduring nature and generous heart, I couldn’t help but focus on the large pillar candles flickering on the alter. I began to wonder about my own legacy. What will be said at my funeral? Will I be known as someone who only looked out for myself, or someone who tried to “shed a little light”?

I think most of us live life trying to protect our own flame. We guard and protect the fire within us, and when it’s snuffed out, all that’s left behind is a darkened void. Fortunately, there are individuals who spend their lives reaching out to others, and igniting their inner spark. They move through life with compassion and kindness, and never keep their light to themselves.

And when their flame is extinguished, even unexpectedly and prematurely, their fire continues to glow in the friends and family they’ve left behind–and I really don’t think there’s a better way to shed a little light than that.

All dogs go to…

2007: The day we brought Brady (left) home from the shelter
to be a friend to Morgan (right).

“Where’s Brady?”

It’s a question I dread having to answer. What do I say? How do I tell my two year old one of her “puppies” got ran over? Do I just tell her the truth?

Do I tell her he went to live with Jesus? Even as I type that I snicker, thinking of Brady tearing through doggy heaven, knocking things over, splashing through any water he could find, and wallowing in heavenly cow dung. (Yes, he had an addiction to rolling in bovine poo, although in heaven it probably wouldn’t smell bad.)

If I’m being honest, I have to admit Brady was often a pain. We brought him home from the Humane Society in the spring of 2007, and the first thing he did was fling our rug across the living room, bark nonstop at the TV, smoke detector and any other object he didn’t recognize, and pee on our couch in the basement. Needless to say, we didn’t get off to a good start.

But I believed in Brady. I knew that under that bumbling, hyper, furry exterior was a sweet, loyal dog. And I was right. He was the perfect cuddle companion while I was recovering from surgery after losing our baby in 2008. He also had a fierce side, which he only let come out when I felt threatened by someone while taking him for a walk. And he was the perfect sidekick for our first-born fur baby Morgan.

I’m sure if Morgan could talk she would ask about Brady, too. And I suppose I could tell both her and Anna the truth. I can’t be sure of where dogs go after they die, so I could tell them, “He’s down at the creek.” Because somewhere, in some distant place, he probably is. We’ll miss you Bubba.

New Mom No-Nos: Things Not to Say to or Ask a New Mom

See? I told you she was cute!

Ten weeks ago I gave birth to a delightful baby girl named Erica June. Double motherhood is exhausting, but she’s totally worth it.

I’m not sure if I didn’t notice it as much the first time around, or if I was even more sleep deprived than I am this time, but people say annoying/insulting/ignorant things to new moms! I’m sure they’re well meaning, but I thought I would come up with a list of things you probably shouldn’t say to or ask a new mom (unless you’re just feeling mean spirited).

1. Is he/she sleeping through the night?
Um, just look at these dark circles under my eyes. And the fact that I just swerved into that wall while walking down the hallway. Do I look like I’m getting sleep to you? Do I?! Sorry, I’m just a little on edge.

2. Are you breastfeeding?
Nonya business. Unless you’re my doctor, or another new/soon-to-be mom looking for support, this isn’t really necessary for you to know. If breastfeeding is going well, awesome. If not, you’re likely to cause feelings of anxiety or guilt.

3. It looks like you’ve lost almost all of your pregnancy weight.
Nice try. The key word there is almost. Please don’t remind me of the 15-20-25 pounds I have left to lose. Instead, just say “you look great.”

4. Are you planning to have another?
For pete’s sake, this one’s still hot out of the oven! And besides, until she’s sleeping through the night, I’m done breastfeeding, and I’ve lost those last pregnancy pounds, I probably won’t be engaging in any activities that could put me in that condition again.

So there you have it. Next time you run into an acquaintance who just had a baby, simply say “your baby is beautiful and so are you.” You really can’t go wrong with that.