When My Wife came down and looked at her, she could see her jowls were swollen. So we decided to take her to the vet, right after I dropped Our Boys off at school. We arrived together and sat with our puppy while we waited to see the vet. Malachy really doesn't like going to the vet - from the moment we go through the door, she spends most of the time hiding behind our legs. This visit was no exception.
After Malachy was weighed, they brought us all into the examination room. Malachy paced around the room until the vet came in. The vet took Malachy's vitals, listened to her breathing, and gently felt her swollen jowls. Once she was done, she took a deep breath and said to My Wife and me that she was worried it might be lymphoma. It was the lymph nodes in Malachy's jowls that were swollen, probably what was causing the difficulty swallowing. The vet wanted to aspirate her lymph nodes and see what the cells looked like as well as take some x-rays to see how the rest of her body looked. I looked at My Wife and we nodded our consent. The vet took Malachy into another room for the procedures.
I had been on my knees to help the vet manage Malachy's anxiety. After Malachy left the room, I sat on the floor and cried. Michal and I got Malachy as a wedding present from our wedding party in 2004, we have known so very few married days without her in our world. And in the span of five minutes on a morning when she would not eat, that reality was changing. Michal and I cried together as we tried to grasp what was changing in our world. It was not easy.
Over the next few days, we found out that indeed it was Stage 4 lymphoma and that our little puppy of twelve years will not be with us for too much longer. We talked to Our Boys about what was happening and we cried together.
What does all this have to do with a blog about educational leadership? Everything. If I wasn't present to these feelings, I could not honor my work last week and in the coming weeks as superintendent. The people on my Leadership Team were so good to me when I shared what I was going through. There was a lot of empathy to what my family and I were going through and it felt good to be supported by my team. If I didn't have their support and feel safe sharing what my family was going through, I would not be able to focus on the work of MPS.
I am very sad that we will be saying goodbye to our Malachy. She has been an indelible part of every moment Our Boys have had, since the days we brought each of them home. I am scared about how much her leaving us is going to hurt, since I can't remember clearly our days without her. I am privileged to serve with such a thoughtful, caring Leadership Team. And I am incredibly grateful to be married to a woman who held me, while I sat on the floor and cried.
Malachy & Her Boys - Parson's Beach, ME