So, the first animal in this series of blog posts… is the first non-rodent animal we had to say good-bye to as a couple.

It was traumatic… and awful… and an experience I never want to live through again.

But first, her life….

Pepper was a medium/long-haired black cat. When I found her on the “Dumb Friends League” website ( the “dumb friends league” is the name of the large animal shelter in our town, and “dumb” is used in the old-fashioned sense of the word, which meant ‘mute’) and showed her picture to Darling Husband, he said “no way” to a black cat. I’d never owned a black cat before…but the association between “dark and evil” and black cats (while completely unjustified) just didn’t seem to fit with our personalities.

Darling Husband and I had already gotten our first puppy after being married for only 5 months. But I insisted I NEEDED a cat.

There is just something about a cat… the cuddly-ness, the smallness, the cat-ness…. that a dog just… ISN’T. And I’d always had a cat in my life. ALWAYS.

So, off to the animal shelter we went! We met with one cat I’d also seen online… a gray cat with a cute face. But after learning how very sick he was, Darling Husband  said we should look at a few other cats. He was looking on a different row of kennels when he said, “How about this one??” I walked over, and sure enough- it was the black cat I’d showed him online!!

Her shelter name was India. And they estimated she was 7 years old… but she was probably older.

She had the greenest eyes I’ve EVER seen…. EVER.

She was beautiful! And overweight. ( I don’t think she even had a visible neck.) And when we started looking into her little cat kennel, she waddled between us and her food, so that her tail was facing us.

It reminded me of the cat from Disney’s Cinderella. And I was determined to name her whatever that cat’s name was….

Until I googled it and it turned out to be LUCIFER. (Ummmm….. NO.)

We took her home that day (she was already spayed) and put her on a diet. I still remember her coming into the house and having difficulty giving herself a “bath” because of the lack of neck.

That night she jumped onto the bed and slept in the crook of my left arm. The way she would sleep the entire time she would live with us… until she got sick.

I remember looking up names for black animals, and came to Darling Husband with a list that he picked Pepper from.

She LOVED menthol scented stuff… like Halls cough drops, and vicks. She would go CRAZY when I was sick… it was all I could do to keep her from eating/licking the stuff. But her pupils would go crazy big… which made her look like the “Puss-in-Boots” cat from Shrek. It was the most endearing and precious thing about her.

*side note: Darling Husband and I used to come up with songs for each animal… a special, made-up song… just for them. It was usually very short. But we’d sing it to them often, and usually it would get a laugh out of the one who wasn’t singing…

Pepper’s song was “Too precious for yourself…. too precious for your FA-MI-LEEEE” And we usually sang it when those pupils, in those beautiful green eyes, were as large as saucers.

Her favorite “toy” was a balled-up Halls wrapper. And even played “fetch” with it!

She did NOT like dogs…. or new people…. and her favorite place in the house was under our bed. (But at the headboard. So, basically the position where she would sleep on the bed with me, but on the floor.)

She lost her extra weight and had a little skin pouch… but it never got in her way.

She had the tiniest ears I’ve ever seen on a cat…and I still can remember how her head felt in my hand, as I’d pet her at night. She’d lick the same spot on your skin, with her sandpaper tongue… until you thought she’d licked to the bone.

She was a little bit of a diva… not really wanting to dip her face down to drink… So she’d dip her paw into the water and lick it off her hand. (This is how she drank. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.)

And she had this weird habit of using cabinet doors, baseboards, etc. to scratch her claws. Other than that, she wasn’t destructive at all.

She lived with us from the fall of 2007 till December 2011. I can hardly believe it’s been 4 years since we said goodbye.

We knew Pepper was nearing the end when she started losing a little more weight, and her fur (once silky and meticulously groomed) became dull and coarse. She was having a harder time jumping up onto tables and cabinets… but still had no trouble jumping onto our bed.

It actually started to worry me so much, that one night, I couldn’t sleep. I suddenly had this urge to take photos and get video of her quirks. (It was before we had iphones, so I didn’t have very many pictures… and pets are a bit difficult to photograph anyway.) The folder containing these pictures and videos on my computer is labeled “Pepper’s Night” and is full of my attempts to get her amazing eyes on film. (As you can see below… my sub-par camera and my lack of experience left much to be desired.)  That was mid October 2011.

2 months later, she went into the vet to have her bowels cleaned out from a very severe case of constipation. (It required anesthesia.) And I decided she should also have a tooth pulled at the same time that had caused some concern for the vet. I just figured, since she was so old… I’d rather get them both done at once, and spare a second medical procedure.

And she did GREAT! (With the exception of an asthma attack she had after waking up in the recovery area…) She came home and ate right away! Not really understanding the extent of this asthma diagnosis (I’d never heard of a cat having asthma! And I have it myself!) after the surgery, PLUS a heart condition that had been just diagnosed, about 24 hours after the surgery… it was suddenly very difficult difficult for her to breathe.

Which made her stop eating.

I did everything I could do to get her to eat/drink…. and even took her in to the vet after not knowing what else to do.. Her breathing was labored… and the vet was very worried. We tried different medicines, but nothing seemed to help. After 4 or 5 days… she didn’t care to leave the warm blanket I’d laid her on, much at all. I kept hoping and believing she’d get better. That she’d just snap out of it and recover.

I had another overwhelming urge one night, to get on the floor and sleep by her. I was too afraid she’d fall off the bed if I tried to bring her up to me. And I just kept thinking… after all these years of sleeping by me… it was the least I could do to sleep by her, pet her, and let her know I was there.

I fed her milk through an eyedropper the next morning, and promised her more milk when I got back home (I had planned some time with Dearest Friend that day, just a few hours to get out of the house… I’d been fretting over Pepper for most of the week by this point, and figured the uninterrupted rest would do her well.)

She waited until I got home.

I tried to give her the milk… but she tried to walk away from me. And sparing a few details of what happened next… her heart finally had enough, and she died while Dearest Husband and I held her.

I wasn’t even sure what had happened. He leaned into her chest to listen and make sure… and I just sat there and cried. I am sure I asked… “Are you SURE??” and repeated “She can’t be gone.” A million times. While she was older… she went from routine surgery, to gone… in a week.

Even though we’d gotten a second cat by then… bedtime and sleeping just weren’t the same for a while. The other cat didn’t fetch Halls wrappers, go crazy for menthol scent, or want to sleep in the crook of my arm.

You can’t replicate an animals quirks and personality. You just can’t. (Not that I tried to.) They are so much like people in this way.

We took her to be cremated the next day, and the vet met me at the door. She teared up a bit as she told me “You did everything you could do…” and tears sprang from my eyes… eyes that I’d thought were dried-up by now. It was one of the best things she could’ve said, and the best gift of peace she could have given me.

Because I desperately wanted to believe it was true.

I still think about Pepper… though it’s with more happy reminiscing than sadness now.

I miss her.


Pepper (October 2011) copyright Aris Greene



Loss of a Pet

I always want to write about it- when one of our animals dies… and then I never do. I’m not really sure why. Perhaps the finality of it all and seeing it all written out. It feels like a huge and overwhelming task. Because, how on Earth can I write down and capture EVERYTHING that made these animals so, so special?? I want to get it right.

I have friends who will understand how these animals are like our children. And others who will understand how they are family. And I have friends who will never understand how we can feel that way about a dog or a cat.

4 years ago today, we had: 3 dogs, 3 cats, 2 rabbits and exactly zero children.(And throughout our first 6 years of marriage we had 4 different hamsters.) I wasn’t even pregnant with our first child until August of 2012.

Yes, our house looked like a zoo to most people. But, to me, our house was filled with so much love. Every single animal had a unique personality and their own interesting quirks. Not a single of our animals was or is “normal”. They all had/have something irritating about them, and they each have/had an endearing quality that made us overlook the trouble or mess or frustration, every single time. 🙂

I hope you will bear with me over the next few days, as I finally write about the animals that have passed. We have said good-bye to two dogs in two months, the second being yesterday morning. And I might even write about those animals that remain… just because.


copyright Aris Greene 2011

It’s Over

It was a long day and I was glad for the distraction of the Broncos’ celebration parade, Facebook, and last night’s X-Files episode on Hulu (Cause I don’t watch that stuff at night. EVER. Anymore. )

I’ve known for weeks that Little Sister’s birthday would be a big moment of transition for all of us. There is something about that first birthday… whether they are hitting those milestones in a timely manner or not, another bit of that teeny tiny baby you brought home from the hospital just… slips away.

After her birthday dinner, a quick bath, and a quick DIY photo shoot… I sang her happy birthday as her birth TIME appeared on my phone. Got her dressed in her pajamas. Suctioned out the masses of boogers out of her nose (for the HUNDREDTH time TODAY). Put some orajel on that 5th tooth popping through her gums. (It was a rough day for her too!) And started setting the scene…

I found the nursing pillow that I’ve used for both of my children and put it on my glider. I took one of the Aden&Anais muslin blankets out of the drawer I have kept them in for the last 3 years… and I chose the one with the cherry blossoms, cause it has always been my favorite. I turned off all of the lights, except the nightlight by the door. Turned on the humidifier.

It looked like every other evening I have had this entire year…

I sat down and got choked up as I snapped down the corner of my nursing tank. The one that has always been so comfortable.

And as she latched, I was quickly reminded that it had been 5 days since I’d nursed, and OUCH, cause Little Sister was still getting used to those teeth! It was a little bit of reality amidst the sentimentality… “Oh, right… yeeaaah…. this is one part I won’t miss.”

But she found her groove, and we settled in without any more discomfort. My phone was on to take a picture of our last time… but she grabbed my thumb in her hand and held it.

The way she used to nurse all the time… at the beginning… but hadn’t done in months. Cue more tears.

I got my picture when she started playing with the straps of my shirt, the blanket, my face… and then we changed sides. Again, a bit of discomfort to bring me back for a quick second, before we got comfortable…. and she fell asleep.

So incredibly peaceful.

And suddenly I was remembering her whole life… the nights I was so tired, it hurt to stay awake to feed her, but how I tried so hard to soak it all in every single time, because I knew how I’d feel when the day came that she no longer needed me that way.

Over and over, in my head, I just kept thinking, “It went too fast! It went too fast! I was intentional, and it still went too fast!! It was also hard, and beautiful, and had ugly, human moments, and painful, and joyful (her first laughs happened while she was sound asleep in my arms, belly full), and emotional, and I know it’s time…. but… but…IT WENT TOO FAST!”

Before I knew it, and after taking in as much detail as I could (her breaths, her eyelids, the nightlight, her cheeks, the crib, the pictures hanging on the walls) she was full and asleep…. and I was empty.

So, I put her on my shoulder, the way I’ve done every night and after every feeding… I gently pat her back until a small burp slips out. She is nuzzled against my shoulder and is just starting to get long enough to have to bend her legs in order to sleep on my chest. (With all my understanding about seasons and phases… I never realized that a child would actually outgrow sleeping on your shoulder, until suddenly my older daughter didn’t really fit anymore…)

So I let her sleep.

And the tears started to fall.

How do I let go of this moment?? How do I actually say to myself… “Ok, Aris.  It’s done.” ????

I held her longer than I normally do, but eventually the salt from my tears started to burn my cheeks, and my stomach was starting to growl, since I hadn’t eaten yet.

I stood up and walked her to her crib. I slipped out of her room and the tears are streaming again.

I walk out to the living room where Darling Husband seems surprised that I am still crying.

(I should mention here, that I rarely cry under normal circumstances. And when I do, it is silent and brief. I usually save my tears for the shower, if I can… cause it just feels better to cry in warm water.)

I heat up my Wendy’s french fries in the microwave and pick up my (now cold) cod sandwich. I head over to the couch and sit by him. I start to eat and he asks “Is it pretty good?”

And it’s not. Cause the fish is cold, and dry, and my french fries have been microwaved… and I just put my one-year-old to bed, with the last milk I’ll ever make in her stomach.

And I lose it.

With my mouth full of french fry and fish…. I am WEEPING, out loud, for probably the first time in our 9 years of marriage. I couldn’t control it. Sounds and tears were happening all over the place…

And I mourned.

That might seem silly to some, but that is how it felt to me. I’m not exaggerating or embellishing. It’s like a part of my life, and who I am, and what I’ve done, is gone… and I will never get to be that, do that, experience that… again.

After the sobbing stopped… but the tears kept coming, Darling Husband asked if I wanted ice cream.

(He knows me so well.)

And we prayed and thanked God for helping him sell 3 cars today, because he hasn’t sold any in a while. God has provided for us! And Darling Husband prayed for me… peace and excitement for the future.

And we turned on an episode of “The Office” (US)

And I am going to be ok.

Life is moving forward and there are so many moments, so many WONDERFUL moments just waiting for my family.

But I needed today, and tonight, and a way to honor this milestone and grieve it.

Thanks for letting me do that here.


Astoria, Oregon: July 2010                                   copyright Aris Greene


Tuesday Happenings

SO many things are happening today!!!

  1. Little Sister’s 1st Birthday!!! (And now I *get* why my mom calls me at the TIME of my birth… because I don’t feel like it is REALLY her birthday until 7:57pm… I am soaking in these last few hours before she is a legitimate 1 year old!)
  2. The Broncos’ Celebration Parade !! 😀 That the girls and I are going to fully appreciate from the comfort and quiet of our living room. After all, even the moon landing couldn’t be 1st-hand-experienced by EVERYONE. 😉
  3. My official last nursing session EVER (to be completed tonight). I timed it so I could bookend this year of Little Sister’s life with this experience. And I am experiencing mid-life/menopause emotions about this, because she is our last baby. This is the last time I will be using my body in this way. EVER. There is great sadness and great relief at the same time. (TMI alert: I hate sleeping in a bra, and I HAVE to wear one in seasons of nursing, or suffer the leaky consequences….) But tonight, it will be mostly sadness at the inevitable close of this incredibly special chapter… while I remember those first sweet moments of her life, one year ago.

Time passes quickly… take time to really focus and remember something about today.

“On This Day…”

I don’t have the “Time Hop” app, but Facebook has the “On This Day” app and I have been constantly caught off guard/amazed by these reminders.

Large amounts of snow seem to fall around the same weeks each year.

People who have passed away are suddenly pictured…

Reminders of illness (which, also seem to happen around the same day/week each year), fatigue, triumph, and joy flicker onto my screen.

Patterns and cycles emerge… and it is uncanny!

The Broncos went to the Super Bowl for each of my daughters’ 1st Super Bowls! (Feb 2014 and Feb 2016) (This time, winning! 🙂 )

My older daughter caught her 1st cold EVER on Super Bowl Sunday 2014, had a cold LAST year during this week, AND has a cold THIS year during the Super Bowl!!

Last week we got about 17 inches of snow in my part of Colorado, and there were multiple years (going back to 2007), of crazy snow and wind chills.

And I’m kinda grateful that such an app exists.

I have journaled since I was in 3rd grade, but more diligently starting in 6th grade… but I don’t often take time to regularly read through my journals and compare dates.

The little moments I’ve posted about with my husband, daughters, and friends… bring such joy!

And the sad memories of loss, trial, and frustration… such pain.

I just thought I would share how my life feels a little richer remembering these.

It’s the small things.


Happy Monday!


Washington State, Pacific Ocean                 Copyright Aris Greene (2011)







2016: Happy New Year in February


I feel heavy. And not JUST because I’ve recently put on a few of the pounds I’d lost in October, or the two days worth of milk in my chest.

I haven’t written in a while.

I’ve been busy cleaning boogers, and worrying about babies breathing at night. And dealing with fevers. And middle-of-the-night Emergency Room visits. And growth spurts. And Christmas. And chicken pox. And debit card fraud. And mourning our 12 year old dog, Scarlett’s, death. (And trying to explain THAT to a very observant and intuitive 2.5 year old.) And purging baby stuff that I’ll never use again. And weaning my 11 month old (who will be 1 in 3 days). And working on my marriage. And preparing for the Superbowl. (GO BRONCOS!!!) And preparing for that first birthday party. And watching the snow fall. And having lunch-time dance parties.

It’s a lot. And I’ve not had many chances to process it all. (At least through writing, which I find especially cleansing.)

I’ve withheld writing here because, sometimes, life isn’t all roses, and springtime, or cozy nights by the fire. But I also know so many people who are truly suffering with much bigger problems, and so I feel guilty writing about these things.

But I think I am done feeling that way.

I want to un-apologetically write about my life. To be free to put that out there. I want to write about my babies, and how these growing pains are tearing me up. I want to write about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle shirt I bought myself in December and how  3rd-grade-Aris got a huge kick out of that.

And I think I’m going to.

Delighting in the moments these past two months has been a challenge! There have been some moments I would never wish to re-visit again.

But there have been many moments mixed in there that I will revisit for the rest of my life.

And, you guys…. I think that is why I need to start writing about both kinds of moments.

Because… those awful, awful minutes make those beautiful ones… soooo much more amazing.

Through it all, God is good.