My head is a jumbled mess.  It’s been a roller coaster week. A roller coaster week that started off in the most horrible of ways.  Tess’ beloved pet, her rat baby (even though she’s an old lady at two), her Willow was sick beyond healing. I knew immediately Monday morning that the news would be devastating, but I made the vet’s appointment anyway. The vet confirmed my suspicion and graciously allowed Willow to stay there for the day, with a little medicine to keep her comfortable, till Tess could come and say goodbye.

The five of us said goodbye in a quiet, sterile, room. We each took a turn holding her tiny body, crying as she struggled to breath. That last final shot was emotionally overwhelming to watch, and as Willow was put in Tess’ hands for her final, quiet breaths, my heart broke. My heart broke for Tess sobbing quietly with shaking shoulders, Cole swelling up with allergies and crying for his beloved pet, Dane’s red eyes, cheeks streaked with tears, and Dave, my big, brave soldier, wracked with grief. Finally letting out all the pain, all the loss, from the last few months.


Our rat babies: Savannah, Willow and Logan

That same day our retirement came orders in.  It is official, we are retiring. No more Army. We have a date! A date we already know will change, but a date that will happen in 2017.  With those orders comes incredible joy, relief, celebration… and panic.  There is so much to do! So much paperwork, so many appointments, and a job to be found.  We’ve started on it all, but now, suddenly, the pressure is on our shoulders.

Tuesdays are always over-stuffed. There’s the normal shuffling of Tess & Dane to and from school, I teach photography in the afternoons, and Cole has his university classes at night. While Cole was in the states this summer, and again in the Fall, my parents patiently taught him to drive and he finally got his drivers license at 19.  Except. My parents both have automatics. Dave & I both have manuals.We’ve tried to teach Cole on our cars, but neither car is brandnew and his rate of learning is proving to be longer than the life left in our gear boxes. That means he needs rides to and from school two nights a week. He’s also playing on the adult football team.  That’s two more rides to and from practice, two different nights of the week.

On Wednesday Dane had an emergency dental appointment. He broke a second molar, in less than a month, this time he had pain. In we went. Luckily both were easily fixable with fillings, and  Dane, being the amazing trooper he is, refused the anesthetic shots and calmly sat through both procedures.


My super trooper!

The rest of the week was filled with normal, daily, craziness.  A Christmas party. Planning Willow’s funeral, there was some debate over burying her versus cremation. It’s hard to think that one day we will leave this house, and leave her behind.  Yet carrying around her ashes during every future move didn’t feel right either. We finally decided to bury her in our yard, near my office, her home.

Thursday Dave came home, big sighs all around, despite our retirement orders we had one more pulled pork fundraiser on Saturday.  That means turning on both ovens, the crockpot and roasting meat all night before shredding & saucing, and rushing it to base while it’s still hot and delicious.  It also means “rustic” chopping of cabbages & carrots for the accompanying coleslaw. And, just to make the last time extra exciting, Dave volunteered us to make glühwein. We do have the big 30 liter hot beverage dispenser, and it is the season. It only made sense.

While I was dreading a Friday night filled with searing, seasoning, chopping and preparing, I was also very excited to go out with our last remaining local friends to our favorite brauhaus with The Best Beer in the WORLD! But first, I had a doctors appointment, my regular check-up, my annual full body check for skin cancer (read here for more). I’ve been doing great! Sunscreen every day, even on cloudy days,  hats at the pool & beach, long-sleeve swimshirts, and my doctor oohed & aahed at my beautiful cancer free face. And neck. And arms. And torso.

“This is interesting.” He said as he got to my legs. I laughed, we were having a great visit catching up while he checked my million+one moles & freckles;
“I’m guessing interesting means bad?”
“Yes, of course.” He said in his straight-forward, practical, oh-so-German way; “but if I say that it scares you.”

Of course he was right. Not that ‘interesting’ and his furious scribbling made me any less scared. Still, he is a wonderful man and we kept up our lovely, distracting conversation the rest of the scan. Immediately after he removed the most interesting mole, to be sent of for biopsy and real answers. If I am lucky I get the results on December 22nd, a good, wonderful, Christmas present.  If I am not lucky I get the results on January 3rd, when the office opens again after the holidays.

He gave me the worst-case scenario, which really is worst-case, but I have learned by now that is the modus operandi of German doctors. We first ran into it with Dane, that first year we moved to Germany, and he was diagnosed with a life-threatening artery malformation (Dane’s Giant Doctor). They gave Dane 12 years. Luckily, thankfully, joyously, he has outgrown that dangerous kink in his neck and he is completely out of danger, with a normal life expectancy.

It is only fitting that it is 3-years-ago today that we got the good news about Dane. Facebook reminded me this morning with their “On This Day” feature. I needed a reminder that worst-case scenarios are just… a scenario. They are not real. They are not tangible. They are imaginary. Pretend. Gossamer threads in the wind.


Dane & his giant doctor on the day of Good News!