We have broken hearts this week. For some weeks to come it seems. Our 55-pound yellow lab with the demeanor of an angel of a little girl took a flying leap from the bed of our truck last weekend on the way to the river for canoeing with friends. We cannot stop blaming ourselves, creating different scenarios. Bargaining.
She barely wimpers on the way to an emergency clinic, a trooper we didn't realize until the waiting room. Scrapes, bumps, and bruises. A broken leg? We would have been able to take that. Better. But the nerves in her front right shoulder are damaged. Possibly permanent radial nerve paralysis. Time will tell, they say, though we don't know if it's on our side.
At home, she sleeps, gets more coordinated. She leaves her pills in the food bowl. She creates fine new cracks in our hearts every time she hops over to get pet or musters the strength to jump into her favorite chair. We lose it a bit. We lean on each other more than we ever have. We call our parents, whose mere "hey" makes us lose it all over again. We look at our budget. We look at our future potential military life all over again, post-move. Three-legged dogs thrive on YouTube. We think, Butters is special. We imagine and re-imagine. We promise to share ideas as they come to us. Four to eight weeks. Come on, nerves. Connect. Heal. We feel sick and hurt and the need for rewind and fast-forward.
Cary started API (aviation preliminary indoctrination) today. Four weeks of academic hell--with doses of swimming screening, stroke training, and physicality tests--due to a mound of material that spans weather, aerodynamics, navigation, regulations, and more--and due to standards higher than ever because of supply and demand. The Marines just stopped accepting pilots. The Navy kept accepting and vowed to kick out those less than the cream, those with an average below 93%.
Tack on two more weeks of land and water survival, and he's done with API, hopefully in a color that flies, and we're into what they call C-pool, awaiting his primary training go ahead at Whiting Field, which lasts six months. For those of you who forgot what's after that, it's Advanced. Pick an aircraft, any aircraft they think you're good enough to fly and need a pilot for, and you're golden winged and on your way to that station. Wings of literal gold from Mexico and custom flight suits are more of a possibility than a pipe dream. Right now, it's strokes and air.
But both of our foci has a tint. No matter how great it is he didn't have to wait long to class up, or how much I clean and attempt to cook and set up interviews that may go nowhere, our minds wander back to Sunday afternoon, when she made impact and rolled onto the long grass on the side of the road, lying still for a moment. Our friends yell. We swerve around. She lifts her head, her ears looking happy and like she just wants to get back to the ride. I jump out and try to get her to stop running toward me as she drags her lame leg I thought was just broken.
My best friend for the last five months. Cary's best friend for the 12 before that. His shadow. Our pet. Our dog. Our child until a human life enters ours. Will we hurt our children? Neglect? Will we forget to take extra precaution? Will we be guilted by their pediatrician? So far from our former homes, we feel our family of four--including the green-eyed monster that is my cat who cuddles only at her whim--is our support system, is what makes home, home. True a laptop and TV and huge couch cushions help. But before all that came in the moving van, we were still complete, all four flopping on the air mattress. What ifs flood. What if it was a friend, or one of us? What if every lesson learned isn't enough?
We continue to talk options at the popular fast food chain Chick-fil-A. We run the McGuire's Irish Pub 5K. If you do it 10 times, you get a T-shirt. I love T-shirts. And 5Ks. And the bathroom at McGuire's because its doors are marked to try and confuse you. The sign on the mens bathroom door reads LADIES with an arrow pointing the the real ladies room, which has a sign that reads MEN with an arrow pointing to the real mens room. But every trip to the bathroom only gives me time to think.