Birthdays Aren't Always a Party
By Anne Kimball on January 17, 2013
I like to think I don't need a big fuss over my birthday. If I get a couple cards, a call or two, if my kids remember to tell me happy birthday, I'm a pretty happy gal. And if I don't have to cook dinner. But my birthday yesterday had to be the worst in my ever-expanding history.
You're probably thinking, how can she complain about her BD when she had the two best gifts anyone could hope for arrive a mere 4 days earlier? Well let me paint you the picture of how my day unfolded .....
Poor Me ...
To start, Fred called me from work the night before to say he had to take an unexpected call night. Since he usually initiates card-making with the kids, they didn't think of it on their own, so I awoke on my BD morning feeling a tad not remembered. No cards from Fred or the kids, and most of the morning getting the kids ready for school went by before Rosie, bless her, realized what day it was. At that point I got lots of sweet hugs and well-wishes and my spirits lifted.
Midnight Sun Has Set
However, later in the morning, things took a serious downturn. I went out to the barn to check on my pony. I had been concerned about him lately. He had been dropping a lot of weight, despite my efforts at preparing a slurry of warm water, equine senior feed, dried beet pulp and corn oil. He was pretty old, and his teeth were in really bad shape, so it was hard for him to get the nutrition in. He also had something else going on, which we couldn't pinpoint, and the bloodwork we had drawn months earlier hadn't shown anything. So when I got out there, I found him down on the ground, and he couldn't get up. I covered him up and went in to call the vet. He arrived about 1/2 hour later and examined him, but couldn't find anything obvious, but he said he saw evidence that his liver was failing him. He said we needed to act pretty quickly, as he was in distress. I had to make a decision whether to start treating him aggressively or put him down. Since I knew he was old (around 30) and I knew that whatever we could "fix" on an emergency basis wouldn't change the fact that his teeth were so bad he couldn't take in enough nutrition, I decided to have him put to sleep. So there I stood in the cold on my birthday morning as the vet shaved Midnight's neck, found the vein, and injected the mixture that would ease him into a peaceful death. The knowledge that you're "doing the right thing" and "easing his suffering" somehow fails to make you feel better as you watch you beloved little pony of 15 years die before your eyes.
From Bad to Worse
But as bad as it was watching him die, it was possibly even worse when it came time to get him on the trailer. I had made a few phone calls and was able to find someone to do the job of trailering him to New Bolton Vet Hospital, where they would do a necropsy. Since the trailer was pretty big, it was determined that the best way to get him on the rig would be to take him through the backyard and up the driveway to get him to the trailer. How do you get a dead pony through the backyard and up the driveway? You put him on a tarp and drag him, that's how. So I'll say it again, on the morning of my birthday, with the help of two other women, I am dragging my pony's body across my driveway and out to the street. Of course James and Julie are there for the whole thing. They didn't have a chance to get to know him, but I think they were sad that I was sad. Sweet Julie gave me lots of hugs throughout the day and James tried to cheer me up in his own way, too. Later I did my best to communicate to them to not tell the kids. I didn't want them telling the kids as they got off the bus, "Po-nee" and then pantomiming his death by rolling their eyes back in their heads and lolling their tongues out. They finally got what I was trying to tell them, to keep it "secret" and let Mama tell.
Running the Hamster Wheel
I finally settled enough to give them a little "schkola" time to work on some English. That helped pass the time for me. Once the kids got home, they all played for while till it was time for our crazy-busy afternoon/evening schedule. I took Rosie and Daniel to CCD, then got home and heated up leftovers ("leftovers, whaaaaaaah!") for the four at home (Fred still wasn't home yet). An hour later, I was ready to leave to pick up Rosie and Daniel. The plan had been, I would take Rosie to our once-a-month Mother-Dtr Book Club at the school, and Daniel would come with and just hang out. Fred would take Patrick to the school for the Geography Bee he was in, and he would have the rest of the crew with him. However, when I told James and Julie I was leaving, that they would go with Papa to the school, Julie was very upset. She didn't throw a tantrum or anything, but she seemed quite traumatized by the idea of me leaving w/o her. So I changed the plans last minute and took James and Julie with me. I picked up Rosie and Daniel, got them some Mickey D's on the way to the school, and got there without further incident. Everyone at book club was delighted by the two new additions to my family and I happily and proudly answered all their questions. Julie seemed a bit overwhelmed but did fine, sitting by me in the circle during the meeting, while James and Daniel played with blocks in the back of the room. When the meeting ended, some of the kids were drawing on the chalkboard and white board while the Moms gathered up their things. Coat in hand, I had told my kids to erase what they had drawn and come along so we could go down the hall to see how Patrick was doing in his geography bee. At that moment, Rosie came screaming across the room, eyes shut tight, saying James had sprayed dry erase board cleaner in her eyes. I dropped everything and ran her to the sink where we started flushing her eyes. I asked someone to grab the bottle and read me what it said to do if it gets in the eyes. Poor Rosie is crying, everyone is fluttering around, we're both soaking wet, and I'm just thinking, Oy. James keeps telling me in Russian he thought it was "vada".
SO after flushing her eyes for what seemed like three hours, we finally dried off a bit, gathered our things (again) and went down the hall to the auditorium. I saw Fred and gestured for him to come out so he could assess Rosie's eyes, which he said seemed OK. Julie at this point had simply had ENOUGH and was glued to my side. Rosie chose to stay so she could sit with her Poppy and watch the rest of the Bee, but I took the others and headed for home. Got everyone to brush their teeth and hit their beds, but Julie was not happy about it and kept crying. I consoled her best I could, but kept firm that it was bedtime. Then Bella pops in front of me all bright-eyed reminding me it's her night for "special reading" (each kid gets one-on-one time once a week and it was her night). Exhausted, I just about cried at this point, and told her we wouldn't be able to do it tonight, but I would try to make it up to her. So she hung her head and dragged her feet down the hallway to her room, all sad.
Light at the End of the Tunnel
Fred finally got home about 9:30 and we got the other two kids to bed, then he heated up the last of the leftovers and proceeded to eat dinner (he was pretty much starving at this point). He had a beautiful card for me and a gift card for a spa. Perfect gift or what? Then I got to relive my misery as I recounted the tale of Midnight's passing, as this was the first chance I had to tell him all day.
A Smile at the End of the Day
Finally the day was over and we headed to bed. I found a beautiful posterboard card that Rosie had lovingly made for me after the end of HER long day, and gotten anyone who was still awake to sign. She had also turned down my covers, and put my book, booklight, and reading glasses on the bed for me. So at the end of a long day filled with more downs than ups, I got into my comfy bed feeling exhausted, but also fulfilled and loved. And what more could you really want on your birthday?
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