Back in San Francisco...
Blogger: Ashley Wilson
The further I've gotten away from my first semester of freshman year, the more I've realized how happy and at home I finally feel at Oxy. However, it's really nice to be home (in San Francisco), too. I was one of the only people in my quad that left campus to come home, and I'm really glad I did. I love spending time with my mom – she's one of my best friends. We have always had a great relationship with each other, mother-daughter and friend-to-friend. I talk to her about my problems, and she gives me great advice, especially when I'm feeling uneasy about my friends. Likewise, when she is having problems, I'm there for her, too. For the most part, my family and I have been blessed with good luck, good health, and happiness. We even just added a new addition to our family! However, since coming to college, life wasn't 100% happiness.
Last term, we both went through a tough second semester. The Golden Retriever, Taya (Tai-ya) that I had grown up with who we got when I was five was thirteen and had been recently diagnosed with lymphoma. I was at school at the time that my mom called me and I broke down. We always knew that every day Taya had past ten was a blessing, and our worst fears were recognized in that one diagnosis. We knew her time was coming to a close–thirteen is very old for a Golden to live to. My mom tried everything to help her, transfusions, radiation, chemo, with the hope that we could have her for just a little longer. 90% of dogs that received that course of treatment lived for another one to one and a half years. Unfortunately, Taya happened to be part of that small minority that didn't respond to treatment. My mom asked if I wanted to give her another blood transfusion to give her some time so I could get home and say goodbye. However, I didn't want Taya to suffer anymore than she had to, so I said no to the blood transfusion. As the spring term progressed, Taya's condition worsened. She wasn't eating, and she and my mom spent most of their days out in back or at the park sitting on a bench while Taya rested next to her. Miraculously, she lived until my mom and I were able to get home. A few hours later, she passed away. My mom and I were devastated. Taya had been part of our lives for over a decade. Coming home to an empty house was only a reminder of the emptiness in our lives after Taya was gone, and we still mourn her death.
At the same time, my family knew that we wanted to get a new dog, another Golden Retriever. But because I was in college, we were pressed for time. We wanted me to be able to bond with the new puppy and since the summer was the longest break I'd have, we started looking right away. Luckily, we found one up near Sacramento. We brought her home at twelve months old and named her Kaylee. It was odd having a puppy in the house again. Taya had been a calm dog for quite a while, and having the new energy of a puppy was strange and time consuming. But she brought so much happiness to our lives that we loved her almost instantly. We had a bunch of firsts again–first Thanksgiving, first Christmas, etc. Ever since the first day we brought her home, she has been a spunky, exuberant source of joy in our lives. She is almost a year old now, and about 50 pounds more, but she is still just as beautiful and cuddly as ever.
I'm really happy that Kaylee came into our lives when she did. Although it was extremely soon after Taya's death, Kaylee helped distract us from our sadness. She was so little and cute and we just wanted to do everything we could for her and to help her feel welcome in her new family. And because I don't live at home for the majority of the year anymore, Kaylee is great company for my mom. My mom and I joke that Kaylee replaced me; every time I call my mom she always says, "Oh, I'm off to Pet Food Express for a new leash for Kaylee" or "Kaylee needs a new water dish" or "She needs a new toy." My mom is an extremely generous person, so it wasn't unusual that she is showering Kaylee in toys and love. Now, we are able to talk about Taya and Kaylee without getting too sad; we compare their habits and their personalities. We recognize that they are different dogs, and we love them separately for their own uniqueness, but equally. We hope to have Kaylee for just as long as we had Taya, if not longer.
Now, I can't wait to come home to visit my mom and Kaylee. I already told my mom that every chance I get, I'll be home walking Kaylee through the park or playing tug-o'-war or watching Castle. I love my family; we are small but we are strong and resilient. We still miss Taya a lot, but we do not let ourselves become consumed by our sadness and loss. I recognize that she was a huge part of my childhood, and I will always remember her. Nevertheless, Kaylee helped us heal a lot and I will be forever grateful that this little being filled the emptiness in our lives.
Note: The Golden Retriever on the left is Taya, and the one on the right is Kaylee. Of course, the other picture is my awesome mom and me. I love you all so much!