I have been trying to start this post for weeks now, but I could not seem to get the words to stop swirling in my head and compose themselves onto the page. Fourteen and a half years ago we adopted our first born, a 2 pound roly-poly bundle of joy…okay, okay, it was a miniature dachshund puppy who we named Quinton. BUT, he was our baby; he was our first born. Anyone that knows us personally knows that he was truly a member of our family. We had to say goodbye to him 3 and a half weeks ago. While we knew it was his time, and the decision wasn’t hard, I never could have imagined the grief I have been feeling. It has been palpable. That first night there was such a heaviness on my chest that I didn’t know how I could go on like this.
There were and still are reminders everywhere: his medicines, his food dishes, his food, his beds, the couch he loved to lay on, his favorite toy, his favorite sun spot…then there were the sympathy cards, picking up his ashes, getting the name plate in the mail, and getting an email reminder to refill his meds. I know this is all normal, but you see, this is our (both mine, Scott’s and the kids’) first experience with real grief, of losing someone that is a part of your everyday life. We have all been coping in our own ways and try to help each other as much as we can. We let the kids talk. Scott let’s me talk. We reminisce. We hug. We cry. We are slowing moving through it. However, Scott does so much to take care of all of us that I am never really sure how he is doing. He is a man of few spoken words, which you would never think as you read his work on this blog.
Yesterday, Feb. 2, Scott and I celebrated 22 years of being together. 22 years since we first started dating. We decided not to spend money on gifts this year. I surprised him with a date night at home: dinner, cake, movie, and games. He surprised me with cupcakes (which he bought only after selling some books. Cheater!) … and the letter I’m going to attach below. I love getting letters and poems from Scott as presents, as they offer a glimpse into his heart. It reminds me every day why God brought him into my life and why I married him. You see…it’s all been in God’s hands and we must faithfully believe that he will carry us through this time of grief as well.
Feb. 2, 2018 (From Scott to Steph)
Almost a month ago we lost Quinton, and today we still mourn his loss. I never expected it to be this hard, this devastating. He was an old dog whose end had been nearing for some time, a fact that we gradually became accustomed to. We cared for him the best we could, made sure that his time on this earth was safe, comfortable and loving. However, I failed to grasp the void he has left us in his passing. God gave us Quinton to get to this point of life and asked for his return; mission accomplished.
When Two Became One
We had been dating for 7 years when we got married, so marriage was supposed to be easy. We talked every day, knew each other’s quirks, and yet marriage is different. I left the cabinets open in the kitchen. You wanted to talk when I got home from work when I was used to decompressing a bit. I went to work in the summer, an oddity to a child of teachers.
We loved each other, and we didn’t fight, but still there was something missing. You were lonely during the day, I lacked motivation, and we both had more love to give.
God saw this and knew what we needed. “A puppy!” we thought. And God said, “Yes! But not that one.” When we finally arrived at that pet store, and the store clerk handed us that 2 pound dappled dachshund, God said “He’s who I’ve chosen for you”. Had we arrived any later that day, he would have been gone.
Our little cutie (QT), Quinton was a handful to start with, as most puppies are. He required lots of attention, decisions and most of all love. He was a member of our family from the start, and united the 3 of us in ways we didn’t even know.
When Kids Get Involved
We always wanted kids, but we reached our thirties childless. Quinton filled much of that void, but still we had more love to give. I needed to move myself to accept that traditional family growth was not in our future no matter how long I waited, no matter how long I expected things to just “work out”.
We attended adoption classes that offered to explain what adoption was and wasn’t. We had adoptive parents come in and tell us their experiences, and when and how they knew they were ready. When would I be? When would I know I could love this child as much as I could my own flesh?
The conversations on the road between home and class changed my mind, but Quinton changed my heart. Coming home to him every day and him loving me with his full heart every day, and me him, made me realize that God builds his families in many different ways, and that he has chosen adoption as our path.
When we brought Eva home that December day, Christmas Eve, we didn’t know what to expect from Quinton. Would he continue to be the protector of the home, barking at every intruder? Would he dismiss the baby, or would he treat her as a chew toy?
We brought her in and put her car seat down. He immediately sticks his head in, and says “Welcome home sister”. From that point he would be her protector, her buddy.
We have our family, and start to wonder if we need to find a great school district for our kids. So we start the process of preparing to move. We spends weeks/months cleaning our house, decluttering, etc. in order to put the house on the market. We tell ourselves we can’t seriously consider any houses until our house is on the market.
Houses we love keep selling. We find one we love (Pondview), and hope it holds out until we are ready. God says no, and it sells just before we are ready. We started the process thinking there were tons of houses that would be great for us, but when we finally reach market, nothing fits quite right.
God says “Be patient”, we say “Now!”. God says “I have a plan”, and we say “but we have ours!” The absolute perfect house (Linda) hits the market…but we are in Iowa. By the time we get back, it’s sold. God said, “It’s not right for you”, but we say “It’s perfect!”. We say “We know what we want!” and God says “I know what you need.”
We find a listing for a house that’s too good to be true: right next to a park, plenty of room and still on the market. We walk through and that night we decide it’s the house we want. God says “Yes, but I need to really know this is your home.” Our “perfect” home is back on the market. We quickly schedule the walkthrough and know immediately…this isn’t our home. The other house is. God says “Yes, but you still don’t know why”.
Shortly after we moved in, Quinton began throwing up randomly. We assumed he had eaten something left behind by the previous owners, but it was continuing to happen. I took Quinton to our vet without an appointment, which meant waiting…And more waiting. After a half day of this, we decided to take him to a new vet near our new home.
Little did we know at the time, but this was just the start of Quinton’s health downturn. The throwing up was caused by a piece of corn cob that was stuck in his stomach, which led to surgery, which led to steroids during a rough recovery, which led to his Cushing’s diagnosis, then diabetes, then blindness, then deafness, then a lipid deposit on his eye, and then his eye rupturing and requiring another surgery. This end of life path was tough, but was made so much better because he had the care he deserved at the new veterinarian’s office. They cared for him, fought for him, boarded him, did all they could for him, and most of all loved him like he was part of their family. We never would have had their care if Pondview was available, or if we had seen Linda when first on the market, etc.
God is Dog
God may have made man in his image, but he made dog in his spirit. A dog will love you no matter your flaws and will be with you forever when you open your heart to them. When God brought Quinton into our lives, he served as a constant reminder of Him. “I will love you unconditionally. I will guard you and our home. I will make you a better person if you let me.” It’s no wonder that when Quinton left this world, the void seemed so much bigger than “just a dog”. He was family, and he was a gift from God.
We mourn in silence, we mourn together, and we know that we mourn so intensely because we were blessed to have had Quinton in our lives for so long.
In memory of Quinton Klein
August 29, 2003 – January 10, 2018