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I taught for several years at a residential school for children with emotional disabilities before staying home after the birth of my second daughter. I returned to teaching, finished my Educational Leadership program in May of 2012, and now work as our district's Writing and Social Studies Coordinator. I have always loved writing and find constant inspiration from my family. Maybe someday, I will get to see my name on the cover of a book!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Slice of Life: Phoebe's last day

On Tuesdays, the community of Two Writing Teachers hosts the Slice of Life. Join the incredible community by writing a snippet of life, or even join with just a comment or two. Everyone is welcome!

Last night, I drove my mother and her dog to the vet. "I know it's the right decision," she said from the back seat where she held Phoebe. It was. I envy dogs the privilege of being able to end life just before it gets too miserable, and Phoebe had reached that point. 

Phoebe came into our lives just after my father fell down the stairs and sustained a traumatic brain injury that changed all of us. She'd been with us for all fourteen years of my father's struggles, and then some. Maybe part of the challenges she always had to be a good dog--and she had plenty, may she rest in peace--were because she lived through such a long struggle that had nothing to do with her except for being the backdrop of her existence. Throughout Phoebe's life, we lived with constant fear and anxiety. Sometimes those feelings were tidal waves--my father did a lot of falling that involved blood and ambulances and emergency rooms, as well as his regular blood checks that were stressful as well. But most of the time the fear and anxiety were undercurrents that waxed and waned below the surface of our daily lives. 

As we drove home, just the two of us, we talked more about my dad than about the dog."It's so hard to remember all the good things," she said. I know exactly what she means. My father was an amazing dad, and it's hard to push aside the more recent and more painful memories of him. Driving home last night on the dark wet roads, we reminded each other of smilier (I made up that word) times. Of his crazy hat collection, his propensity for learning new things, his books and magazine articles, his generous and thoughtful gifts, his passion for practical jokes and for laughing.

Maybe, in some strange way, without Phoebe, it will be easier for us to access the times we'd rather remember.

My OLW for 2017 is brave. It would have been easier for me to write about an interaction with a student yesterday, but being brave means being vulnerable and writing more about what matters. I have plenty of time and space to write about Noah. Today is about Phoebe and Dad.

All good things,


  1. What an important share. Phoebe and your father have wonderful caregivers. Thank you for being brave so we can all know grief and name it when we see it.

  2. Oh Melanie, I've made that drive myself. It's so hard. I love that you were brave today and wrote about this. Remembering those who are gone is hard and sad, but I think it's how they live on and stay with us. Sending you hugs today!

  3. I love your new word "smilier." We need to think about the smilier times more often. Maybe next year that will be your OLW! Thanks for the poignant post.

  4. I love your new word "smilier." We need to think about the smilier times more often. Maybe next year that will be your OLW! Thanks for the poignant post.

  5. I'm not looking forward to that drive and I know we'll be making in the next few years. I'm sorry for the loss of Phoebe and for the dad that gave you so many smillers. Cherish those smillers!

  6. This is a post that touches hearts and grows connections to the readers. So sorry for your family.

  7. I'm glad that you wrote about Phoebe and your dad, too. Brave takes us to better places in our writing, even though it's not something we may be comfortable doing, yet. I loved the scene with your mother in the car - talking smiler days, and holding on to love. Sorry about Phoebe, bless her, she sounded like a kind and soulful doggie.

  8. "Being brave means being vulnerable and writing more about what matters." Such true, brave words.

  9. "Being brave means being vulnerable ..." yes, yes, and more yes. I struggle with that vulnerability as I embark on this year-long writing challenge I've signed up for. I'll be thinking about your post.

    I've had to make that drive more times than I like to remember. Thank you for sharing this with us and for the reminder that, if we're brave, we can still find the smilier times (I love that word!).