Tag Archives: autism death of pet

Autism: The Greatest Love

The other night, as I was lying in my bed reading a Christian book that I had downloaded to my tablet, I came across a chapter that brought out a strong and sudden response.

The book was non-fiction, but this chapter was about a vision which the author claimed to have experienced… as if it were real. It might have been real. I do believe that some people do experience visions – and if I hadn’t believed it was real, perhaps it wouldn’t have upset me as it did.

In the vision, the author was speaking with Jesus, and said, “some people have strange opinions on Christianity,” or something on the lines of that, “some believe they will see their dogs in heaven.”

I cried so long, and so hard, that when I woke in the morning my eyes were still heavily swollen. In one sentence, the author had re-awoken a trauma that, while it hadn’t healed, was at least not as… loud anymore. It was as if my dog had been taken from me all over again, and it hurt just as much as on the day when I unexpectedly lost him.


“I need him, Lord,” I cried. “I need all of them.” If my animals aren’t in heaven… how could it be heaven then?

This is difficult to explain to people who don’t understand. And I know that this is something that Christians disagree on. But…

You see (and I know God knows this about me, for He put them on my heart, and He gave them to me to love) I really struggle to form connections with people. No matter how hard I try, and no matter how much I like them, I just… I am always afraid, always uncomfortable, always ashamed of who I am when I am with people.

I try to be myself, and I try to be known, and I really do try to connect – but at the end of the day, it is my ‘babies’ that I feel closest to – and they aren’t people.

All of my life, it was them. It was the animals that carried me through. It was my animals that kept me going. Even as I cried over this sentence in the book I was reading, my cat verbally questioned what was wrong (not in English, of course, but I understood him) and my girls came to lick the tears off of my face.

My husband walked by, but it was my ‘babies’ that came straight to me to ensure I was okay. I wasn’t.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love ” 1 Corinthians 13:13. God gave me my babies to love. All through my life, they have been there to love – and I have. I really, truly have. So if love remains, why wouldn’t they? I cried myself to sleep that night praying, “Please, Lord, I need them.”

The next morning I woke with this verse on my mind: “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.” Ephesians 3:20. This verse has been used as a comfort for here, but also in heaven – and for heaven to be “abundantly more than I could ask or imagine,” my babies would have to be there.

They would have to be… wouldn’t they? The thought that they might not be there has me crying still – two days later – and has re-opened wounds that the presence of those still with me have worked to heal. “I need them, Lord. Please.”


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Autism: Triggers

It was a Saturday afternoon, and we were sitting in the waiting room – my son and I. His small kitten meowing loudly in the crate on his lap. The appointment had been set. It was just a routine post adoption check up, coming just days after we brought Nicholas home. The day was snowy, the roads scary; so different from that hot summer day eight months ago (has it been eight months already?)

We sat in the waiting room at the vets office, and it was not lost on me that my son and I (by no preconceived decision) were sitting in the exact places that we had been on that day – and I looked to the floor where my dog had sat struggling on that day; that horrible day when I brought him in to save him, and went home in tears without him.

I looked at the floor half expecting to see him there still… and I did as my memory placed him back there. I did, but I couldn’t go back and save him. It wouldn’t have done any good – they couldn’t save him then. I looked at the floor, and expected to see the fluid from his lungs spreading out in a pool on the floor. It was an emergency – didn’t they see it? Why did they make us wait?

Trying to bring myself back to the present, I turned to my son’s kitten and spoke to his cries. “It is okay Nicholas.” It is okay. But it wasn’t. My heart was breaking sitting there, and I wondered if that place would ever bring hope for me again. I cried for my boy that I miss so much, despite the beautiful girls who have come to fill the gaping hole that he left behind. “I didn’t mean to leave you here, Gryffindor. I didn’t want to leave you.”


I held it together until I got home, and then I fell apart. It took days to get over it… not really over, but to block it out again so it didn’t hurt so much. I used to be good at blocking things out – as a child – I had to be. The skill was dulled along the way, yet no less needed today. In order to live, I must be able to block these things out, but the triggers come. The triggers will come.

There was another winter day. I was working. The highways were closed in both directions due to accidents. Many people were trapped in town as they were attempting to drive through. The motel was filling up quickly. The entire town was filling up quickly, for there was nowhere else to go. I was alone at the front desk, with a lineup of people asking for rooms. Online bookings were closed, and I was given orders not to take phone reservations – there wasn’t time. First come, first served, and they had to be at our door.

I answered the phone only to tell people we had few rooms left – they had to show up. One phone call, a woman – “we’ll be there in five minutes.” Five minutes. Okay, I have a couple of rooms, and there was a moment of quiet. Five minutes. I can do that. “Good, I’ll have the social worker call to book it,” she said. “No! I am not able to take online bookings.” No time. I have my orders. I can’t do it. Dishonest.

Another call. “Are you going to leave these people out on the street just because of our little mistake?” Not mistake. I was clear. Manipulation. Lots of people being turned away tonight. Hate! I hate social workers. Hate them. So manipulative. Triggers. My father was manipulative, too. Really manipulative. As a result, all manipulation triggers me – even my own – and social workers, I have found, are the worst.

Tears, all night. Anger. Trauma. Two separate incidents (my childhood, and the loss of my children) that I still fight PTSD because of – and manipulation triggers them both.

Phone calls. Certain smells (like the smell of cigarettes on the clothes of smokers). Places. Moments when I feel overwhelmed (that happens a LOT!) Feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, powerlessness (like seeing videos of factory farming and animal cruelty.) Stories of evil. People dismissing my activities as not having value because I don’t get paid for them – judgment, criticism. People dismissing my struggles as unreasonable. Places that remind me of pain. All triggers.

And as I experience life, the triggers grow. I am less able to deal with life now at 40 than I was at 15, though I was being abused then – and my husband, though he does not understand, and though he dismisses my pain as unreasonable, is not a cruel man.

The triggers come, and I am overwhelmed with pain, and sorrow, and fear. It takes me days to block it, and I am only successful when no other triggers come. Just trying to hold on. Hoping I can hold on. Fearing I won’t survive it this time. Just trying to hold on.


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Autism: If I Were Well

It had been a really rough week. Hard to believe two weeks had past since we lost my son’s nearly nineteen year old cat. The pain was raw, and everything bothered me. I get like that when things hurt; my already sensitive nerves are overwhelmed by every little thing.

I spent the day before steaming with anger and frustration over things that I was unable to express. Communication is hard at the best of times – and this was not the best of times. It isn’t that such things only bother me when things are hard, but that the irritation I am able to suppress and redirect when I am well (knowing that I am very sensitive about such things, so it really isn’t the fault of other people) wants to come out in an explosion when my functioning is low.

The struggle didn’t get shared, however. I am getting better at holding it in until I can find some way to solve it, or express it better. Since my ability to express myself still isn’t close to the level where others can accept what I am saying (or even understand my point) I often find myself holding so much in that I am at the edge of being overwhelmed nearly all the time. The tiniest things can throw me over… even then I rarely explode, but do spend a lot of time alone and in tears as a result.

Though the plans had already been made, I still woke up that morning full of frustration over the things that had bothered me the day before – again, more because I couldn’t figure out a way to solve or communicate the issue than that it was actually the fault of another that I was feeling that way.

The plans had been made with my son, however, and were really important to him. We were to go downtown for a few necessary supplies, and then head out to the local SPCA with the hopes of adopting a cat.

I guess he learned that from me, and I in turn learned it from the loss of my Chiku. I got Chiku a week before my son was born, and she died a week before she turned 16. In the part of my life that I remembered, I had her longer than anyone at that point, and the loss hit me hard. They always do. I was determined that I would not get another cat as the pain was too much. That is the year I ended up adding three new cats to my home!

Then when I lost Gryff last summer, I knew I needed another dog. The pain was intense, and I could hardly even get up when Clara was given to me 15 days later. It hurt, but I knew she was necessary. So when my son lost China, the first week the pain was too much, but he knew that he would need another cat. He learned that from me.

I didn’t think it would be so hard to find a cat at the SPCA (there were 5 he was very interested in from the ages of 2years to 13years old – all were gone before we could even think about getting there) and I didn’t think it would be so easy to adopt a cat from the SPCA.

On the Friday afternoon, six kittens had been posted on their site, and three were gone right away. The three left were brothers, and all three had the personality my son was looking for – so we got there on Saturday half an hour before they opened, and waited in the car.

My husband came with us for all of this, and though in my mind he spent most of his time in the background, the very fact that he was there helped to calm me. He does that – especially when I am out.

In the main room were four kittens, two of them already spoken for. They were really cute – 10 weeks old, and very energetic and curious. My son and I spent quite a while playing with them before asking to see the other kittens we had come for.

We were taken to another room where we were greeted with meows from a small orange kitten. The two orange ones were also spoken for. My son walked over to a cage that was open, and a black and white kitten came straight to him. “He is usually very shy,” the worker said, “this is very unusual.” My son and that kitten spent the rest of our visit together, while I played with his brother, and pet some older cats in the room.

Obviously he is the one we decided to bring home – a six month old tuxedo named “Rocky Road.” (My son changed the name to Nicholas.)

And you know? Despite the pain, and the grief, and the frustration, and all the negative emotions and struggles I was feeling leading up to that moment, I really enjoyed spending that hour at the SPCA playing with those cats. And I thought, “I would love to volunteer here… if I were well.”



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Autism: Death, Time, Loss

China died last night.

The news doesn’t seem real. For nearly nineteen years she has been in our home. My son had just turned two – a small, blond, curly haired boy full of energy, and full of love for this small kitten who (out of fourteen kittens born to three cats on the farm) claimed him as her own, and decided she would be coming home with us.


Now a very tall, bald-headed man (whose hair turned to dark brown sometime around the age of 3.5 years) who has little energy – and still a lot of love for this shrunken, blind, deaf cat who had stayed loyally by his side for nearly nineteen years had to come to me in tears to say the words, “China died last night,” and he broke down sobbing.

My son was with her in the end, and had to deal with her alone as we were in bed, and didn’t know. It is fitting that he was with her when she died, for in life they were hardly ever apart.

It breaks my heart to think of her without him now, and I pray that is not the case. I hope that she is there with him still, though he cannot see her. (Oh how I wish we could see them still, though their bodies are gone; how I wish we knew where they went.) I pray she is young once more, and free of pain, and right by his side – as she has always been.

China died last night; nearly 5 years to the day from when I lost my Chiku – and just over 7 months from the loss of my dog, Gryff. When will the pain end?

I fill my moments with small, unimportant tasks, and push the grief away. I can do that for a while, because for years she spent nearly all of her time downstairs with my son, and the loss isn’t so noticeable up here. When I go down to see him, though, her absence is heavily felt. The very air seems to cry that she is gone; even as I still see her in the places she has recently been.

I go to comfort my son and end up in tears myself. I am not sure he feels better when I go down; then again, I am not sure he wants to. Perhaps he is thankful to know that he is not alone in his pain. Yet, he is alone, for she was his. For nearly nineteen years I loved her, and the pain of this loss is great – but not as great as his, for she was his.

And maybe that is true of all of us who mourn – though surrounded by a crowd of people hurting from the loss, the pain is still our own, and we are alone in it. I don’t have words of comfort for my son – all I can share with him is my own grief, and my own lack of answers.

Were it up to her, she would be right there with him still – now and forever; and maybe she still is. I pray that she still is – and so much happier without a failing old body in the way. I wish we could see her still. I wish we could see all of them.

As I stop with the movies, and the games, and the distractions of the day, my tears flow. But how is it even those things can distract me? One would think for all of these losses, the tears would go on forever – and sometimes they seem to. So how is it I laughed today?

This world, this life… it is so wrong. I wonder how we carry on at all.

I used to long, so full of regret, to return to the beginning and try again. The more I lose, however, the more I long for the end – for the possibility that when I arrive, I will see them there waiting for me. And the pain will be no more.


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Autism: Family Time

It has been a good couple of days. Don’t get me wrong, I like visiting with these people – and am amazed by how often we see them, considering they don’t even live on this continent. My own family I hardly ever see, though we could drive to them in five days, or fly there in five hours if we had the money.

The first night we were here, we drove to the beach. Maybe five minutes from our house, and so beautiful – on a clean lake, surrounded by mountains… we live in an amazing part of the world. Just five minutes away, and we never go. I’d like to go, but… well… it is easier staying home, and the anxiety gets too strong, and my husband is too tired, and my son doesn’t like to leave the house, and…

We sat at the beach with our visiting family for about an hour. Maybe a little more. I waded a little, but didn’t swim, as I had my dog with me. She doesn’t like the water, and was even trembling up in my arms. The water was warm, and free of weeds – just as I like it. The beach was sandy, and soft on my toes. We sat at the edge of the beach, on a grassy hill, and just enjoyed the moment – watching the birds soaring on the breeze, watching the swimmers, and the boats going by, talking, and laughing, and watching the trains go by just behind us. It was a good evening.


Yesterday, my husband was at work. His brother asked if I wanted to go along on their trip to the waterfall, and a hike above it after. My initial response is always, “No!” Stay home, be comfortable, calm the anxiety. Years ago I decided that wasn’t the best answer, and that in a moment like that my answer should be, “Yes.” It is a conscious decision every time, and definitely goes against what I feel in the moment, but I am often glad that I went (once it is over.)

The waterfall is a little over a twenty minute drive from my house. We park, and then walk through this valley filled with trees and other vegetation, and mountains on each side. Even on a hot summer day, it is often cool in there. We follow the path along the stream, until we reach the rushing waterfall on the other end. The sound of the water, and the smell of the forest… so calming, so soothing – even when there are many other people around (which there often are.)

On the other side of the parking lot, there is a trail that leads up above the falls. Though we have taken that trip at least yearly since I moved here sixteen years ago, and often more, I have never done the hike above the falls. My brother in law said he last hiked it with my husband – but my husband’s knees have gotten bad since we were married, and he can no longer do such hikes.

The way up was steep, and I am not used to the climb. I struggled to breathe, my chest and shoulder kept sending out sharp pains, and my face was overheated. I was afraid that I wouldn’t make it – that either a heart attack, or a fainting spell, that would send me down the steep slope to my right would end my life. Mine, and my dog’s with me, as I was carrying her up the hill (she’s only a little dog after all – and even if she could have walked it, the drop made me afraid to let her try.)

I didn’t say a word. I often don’t. I just followed along beside praying that I would make it. Not that I was afraid to die so much – these days situations I think I might not survive leave me thinking, “I’ll see Gryff soon,” (Gryff is my dog that I lost just about 2 months ago.) But it wouldn’t have been… polite?… to die there and leave my brother in law to explain that to my husband and son. Plus there is my son I would be leaving behind – and I don’t want to do that to him.

Obviously we made it – and the view, and the smells, and the exercise were worth it. I was glad to get home, but was also thankful that I went – against my very strong inclination to decline (especially when my husband wasn’t coming, too.) I rested for the afternoon, and in the evening, we played cards. So much fun!

I enjoyed the visit. I most always do. However, I am really looking forward to getting back to the way things ‘should’ be: To my routine. To my diet. To quiet. For I can’t be me when other people are around, and it is so, so, exhausting – and I can already feel myself crashing, and being pulled towards those fixations that help to calm me: drawing floor plans, spending hours on Pinterest, researching and planning things that I will likely not follow through on… living.

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Posted by on August 24, 2016 in Autism: Out in Public


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Autism: Good Decisions

When I decided to reduce my blog posts to three a week, and then proceeded to continue writing until I was scheduling three weeks in advance, I understood the benefit in terms of getting through my vacation. I did not, however, realize just how much I would rely on those pre-scheduled posts in the weeks to come.

It has been 5.5 weeks since my dog died – and yes, that is a compulsion of mine, to count the days, weeks, and months from an intense experience. In the beginning I probably wrote too much about that pain – for it was my loss, and not exactly a shared experience. Eventually, however, the words became repetitive, and the need for other topics was strong.

I tried. I really did try to think of other things, but my mind… On very few occasions have I been successful, and for the most part I have failed to keep up. Failure, like so many things, snowballs as I fixate on it. Had I not so many posts already written when this event cut through my world, that might have been the end of my blog.

However, since I did make that decision before I knew how important it would be, I do not actually feel that failure has yet occurred, and the compulsion to continue on this schedule remains strong.

Five and a half weeks. Today I am lying in my tent at ‘the lake’ with my new dog, Clara. And though he has died, and though it was hard to come without him – he loved it so – I feel him stronger here than I have in weeks. It brings me peace, and frees me to make new memories with Clara. Not that she replaces him, but more that I can see him experiencing this right along with her.

And you know? Clara seems to love camping, too. So maybe healing will come. And maybe I can write again. For now, I am thankful for decisions I made before I ever had any idea how important they would be.

Vacation July 2016 012


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Autism: The Right Choice for Me

I haven’t been out so much since probably last summer when we were camping.  It isn’t that I haven’t wanted to, but…

  • neighbours
  • allergies
  • routine

How quickly I forget how much being outside calms me – when it is quiet and peaceful, that is.  If there is one thing I need right now, it is calm, for my anxiety has been extreme since the loss of my dog.  It keeps coming back to that.  I am sorry.  I do fixate.  That is, if nothing else, a consistent trait.

Gryff used to enjoy going out into the yard alone.  I went along for his evening walk each day, and sometimes more, but I only stayed in the yard with him if I had something to do.  Not even then.  He didn’t mind me being there with him, and he even liked it at times.  But he was an independent dog, and mostly he didn’t care.

Summer 2015 016

Not Clara, though.  I doubt I would even feel safe leaving her out alone if she wasn’t so scared, and so new.  She really is a tiny thing – smaller than my Pomeranian.  Smaller than my cats.  Smaller even than my rabbits were.  We have eagles, and crows, and… well, she is so small, even cats might be a danger (not mine – they get along fine!)

Clara doesn’t like to be alone.  The first few days, she was scared, and hid in her corner – but in the room where I was.  In those days (as if they were so long ago, and not just a week past) she would sit right next to me when we went out, trembling in fear.

Clara June 23 002

Now she has become my shadow – partly due to her personality, and partly due to me training her to come to me, and not be afraid when I moved around.  So out of necessity (and good weather) we have been spending several hours outside each day.  Mostly I have nothing to do but to sit and watch her exploring her world.  It is so quiet and peaceful, and I am thankful for this.

As for my routine – with death and life, my anxiety is high.  Thinking, functioning, maintaining my routine… all are impossible for me right now.  Even writing these blog posts have been especially hard these past few weeks.

At least I have this, and it helps me to know that though it was my own desperation that brought her to me, and much too soon at that, adopting Clara was the right choice for me.


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