I Heart Happiness...
and Jennifer Aniston.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Like Britney before her, Jennifer Aniston is restoring my faith in the universe. (And as much as I love me some Britney, we all know Jen's my girl.) Yes, Justin Theroux is a bit of an odd choice (although I find him somewhat sexy in a smart, refreshing, aging hipster way) and one probably none of us could have predicted. (Um, the guy played two different characters on SATC during seasons one and two and I take personal offense to that, HBO. Didn't you realize we were paying attention?) Sure, the jury is still out on whether or not Jen pulled an Angie and came between this guy and his girlfriend of 14 years, but... I think we can all agree that we haven't seen Ms. Aniston look this happy since, dare I say it..., Brad. And happiness looks really good on her. Oh, and on you, too.

Happy Friday!

Saying Goodbye to Rusty.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

From the bottom of my heart, I believe some people come into our lives for a reason. I'm starting to realize I believe this about animals, as well.

Last week, my family not only lost a trusted and faithful companion, but what we truly lost was one of our own. Rusty, our 15 year old golden retriever, left us on a beautiful, warm day on a blanket out on the lawn with my mother and a very kind vet by his side. It was something that had been coming for a very long time and yet, when my mom told me over the phone, it took my breath away. You see, Rusty wasn't just a dog, wasn't even just my furry brother, he was one of us. Rusty came into our lives and transformed us with love.

Let me start at the beginning. I have said this before, but I am not what someone would describe as a dog person. It's not that I don't like them, in fact I love many of them including my own little canine man, but I don't adore all dogs. I just don't. Nothing to be done about it. However, when our family collie, Sugar, passed away, there was always something missing. Fast forward a few years and my sisters and I convinced my parents they needed a golden retriever puppy. I fought especially hard for this. After some investigation on my sister Monica's part, Rusty was found. (He was three years old, but - trust me - he was a puppy and he remained one until he was at least nine.) I'll never forget the day I met him. He came bounding into my sister's house with an energy I had never, ever seen before and, in a flash, was up on the bed, up the stairs, down the stairs, on the couch, off the couch, circling the dining table and outside. All while wagging his tail, smiling and barking, as if he was saying, "I knew it! I knew you were my family!" Now, let me tell you, Rusty was a handful those first few years. No two ways about it. There was a very small amount of time when my parents wondered if they were up to the challenge of raising Rusty, but to know this redheaded boy was to love him and in a matter of weeks, my parents' hearts melted. As much as they both loved him (we all did), however, he was truly my dad's best friend. Everywhere my dad went, Rusty could be found trailing close behind him.

Two years later, my father died and Rusty became the man of the house. I realize how ridiculous that sounds (and it does), but I think my dad's closeness to Rusty made us all feel closer to the person we had lost. Just a few days after his death, my father came to me in a dream (and like most therapists, I take dreams pretty seriously). I was sitting in the living room and looked over and noticed my dad sitting on the floor petting Rusty. I said, "Dad, what are you doing here?!" and he looked at me and said with a smile, "Honey, where else could I possibly be?"

In the years that followed, Rusty provided a kind of comfort and joy that helped all of my family, but especially my mom. He came into our lives at a time when we couldn't have needed him more and I can honestly say I can't imagine there was ever a better companion.

A few days ago, I woke to an email from my lovely mother. In it, she wrote about a dream she had the night before. These are her words: "It was about a little dog who had been rescued by a couple. He had some kind of health problem, but he was so endearing. From somewhere, music began to play and this little creature began to wiggle across the floor, doing dance movements that were absolutely filled with joy. There were all of us, standing and watching, wildly clapping and laughing to see his joy. I think that must have been Rusty letting us know he's now able to dance again and telling us he is joyful in the place he is."

I couldn't love my mother anymore than I do. Not even the tiniest bit more.

And, Rusty, my sweet, sweet boy, I couldn't have loved you anymore than I did - none of us could have. You were the best dog I have ever known and I can never thank you enough for taking care of Mom the way you did. I wouldn't have my own puppy now if it hadn't been for you and, like you did before him, Samson has changed me with his unconditional love. A dog trainer once called you "a scholar and a gentleman" and it was true. Thank you for bringing in the paper every single night and never forgetting to bring me my shoes (even if you wouldn't always let go of them). I hope you are playing ball with my dad up in heaven now, but I also know that you'll find a way to be with us, too. Because, really, where else would you be?

You will be loved forever, Rusty.

Love, Las Vegas & Photographs.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Yesterday, I excitedly ran out to the mailbox to find a CD waiting for me from Kim with the remaining photos from our shoot. I am in love with these pictures, not only because they capture such authentic, little moments between Jenner and me, but because they also give a beautiful glimpse of Las Vegas. (A big thank you, thank you, thank you to Kim and Andre.) If you are ever in need of a photographer that will immediately put you at ease and capture the real - but best possible version of - you, be sure to contact her.

What Has Remained.
{Losing My Dad 10 Years Ago.}

Friday, June 3, 2011

10 years ago today, we lost my dad. This experience changed me (and my family), acutely and instantly, forever. This is the third tribute I've written for him here since I started my blog, each written on June 3rd, although he's touched so much of everything I've written. And just as I did one and two years ago, I have decided just to open my laptop this afternoon, with no plan of what to write, and see what comes - what has remained.

My dad picked out my very favorite dress I've ever had, a baby blue and white striped number I wore in kindergarten. He made the most fantastic chocolate milkshakes. He cried in the movie Beethoven, but I'm not sure if I should admit that here. He sometimes called my sister and me "Tiger", but called one of my best friends, Danny, "Mona Lisa." He believed in equality and didn't understand why our gay family friends couldn't marry. As much as he loved my sisters and me, I think he may have loved my mom best of all. She was his best friend, and very favorite person, and when she went to the south to visit her family for two weeks every year, he almost couldn't take it. If my dad was still around today, I can promise you that he would still hate the first boy who broke my heart. He did a dance I now do for my little kid clients called "the happy dance" every time I brought home a good grade or a scholastic achievement of some kind. I held him at my grandmother's funeral as he quietly sobbed. He always brought me home circus peanuts. When I admitted in high school that I was really depressed, he took me in his arms and told me how much he loved me. He built the most beautiful homes that still make me proud to drive past. He wrote me a letter every week I was in Africa (sure, my mom made him, but it was still sweet) and in one told me that he would always be with me. I will treasure that letter forever. When I gave him the first story I ever wrote, he cried and said, "For a girl who swears as much as you, you sure have a beautiful way with words." When he was in the hospital, before he died, I told him he was the only dad I had and that I needed him. He told me he would do everything he could to make it and I know how hard he must have tried. Even though he wasn't able to, I know he's here with me - and all of us in the family - a part of him surviving, remaining, always. My dad.

What I know for sure, after all this, is that time is fleeting and our time with the ones we love the most is far, far too short. Make the most of the time you have now because, someday, you too will cry to your best friend, "Where has the time gone?" Life is sometimes unbearable and always unbearably short, but what I know for sure is that the love survives. After everything else is gone, love is what remains.

I love you, Dad. Today, yesterday, ten years ago, ten year from now, always.