This is the story of how when one door closes, another one doesn’t always open. But sometimes, a door closing is the perfect catalyst for the right door to open.
I think I speak for the entire world when I say that 2020 was a year filled with uncertainty, loss and bewilderment, with sprinkles of joy (hopefully) and grief here and there.
For me, the year didn’t really begin until March. January and February were just continuations of the year before. How could such amazing months be categorized within the same year that my life was turned upside down?
March started out wonderfully — I had a job I loved, a healthy family, and a great idea of what I was doing with my life. The third week of March brought the spread of COVID-19 to the United States, and by the end of that week, I had lost everything I had known about stability.
I was laid-off from my job, and that lay-off was a hard-hitting blow to my ego. I know it wasn’t my doing. I wasn’t fired, I was “laid-off because of a global pandemic”, as my husband liked to remind me. Not that it made a difference, I still felt at-fault.
A few weeks later is when I realized that a new door had opened for me, but that didn’t necessarily mean that things were “ok”. I was getting to spend time at home with my husband and my dogs. I had always wanted to work from home, and now I could spend some time focusing on my blog while looking for a new job. Plus, my friend and I started a craft beer podcast that helped fill some empty time slots in my days.
But it was still hard, and the days (which turned into weeks) were full of uncertainty.
Now, if you’re anything like me, you probably stopped reading after “dogs” and are urging me to tell you more about them. Okay, if you insist ;)
At the time, we were a family of five — myself, my husband and our three pups. Cooper was our “first born”, a 12ish-year-old rescue Golden Retriever. Next came Apollo, our 5-year-old Great Dane and gentle giant. My next few stories involve him, so I’ll let y’all sit in suspense until then. And finally, we have Brooklyn, a 3-year-old Dachshund mix who absolutely runs the house, as you’d expect.
Now, Apollo. He was my dog. My husband and I got him together, but the bond that Apollo and I shared was unlike anything I could ever put into words. Don’t get me wrong, he loved my husband. In fact, he loved anyone and everyone he met, even though he was 150lbs and looked intimidating.
But to me, he was much more than a dog. I often refer to him as my soul dog. We just got each other. We were inseparable.
In November of 2019, Apollo was diagnosed with large-grade lymphoma at just 4-years-old.
I still get a lump in my throat every time I type that out.
Lymphoma is a very aggressive form of cancer, and the prognosis is not usually great. He was given 6-12 months left if we chose treatment, or as little as 2-weeks without it. We started chemotherapy immediately and worked so hard to give him the tools to let his body fight.
By January, he is in medical remission, and at the beginning of March, he was officially fully in remission and we were stoked to have our boy with us for a long long time.
Or so we thought.
Just 3 months later, in June, the cancer had returned. The prognosis this time was even worse, even with chemotherapy, so we opted to just keep him as happy and comfortable as possible, and give him the best last few days/weeks/months/years, however long he had left, as we could.
Now, if you remember the first part of my story, you remember that I was jobless at this time. I was freelancing here and there, plus focusing heavily on my brand. And thankfully, this gave me the flexibility to go anywhere. And go we did.
My parents were spending their quarantine in Colorado, and since Apollo loved the mountains and hated the boiling Texas summer, we made the decision to pack up the family and spend the majority of our summer with them.
While on the topic of family, I need to tell you about my grandparents. They are everything to me. My mom and I lived with them until I was 9, so at times, it felt like I had an extra set of parents. My grandma helped raise me, while my grandpa spoiled me every day of his life.
COVID was hard for them. They live in Colombia, where there had been a very strict order for the elderly to not leave their homes. They felt stuck. By July, after 4-months of not leaving the confines of their small home, it was starting to take a toll on them. Especially my grandpa.
We left Colorado July 1st to come back home to Austin and were pleading to the Colombian Consulate to let us get on a humanitarian flight to go see my grandpa. He wasn’t doing well. We were scheduled to leave on July 11th. But, on July 8th, 2020, my grandfather passed away “peacefully” at home.
I say peacefully in quotations, because that’s how he had always wanted to go… at home. But this was different, he had been locked in that home for months, and all he wanted to do was get out and see us. It was devastating.
I remember pulling into my friend’s driveway, ready to record our weekly podcast episode, when I got the phone call from my uncle.
I sat in my car in that driveway for what felt like an eternity, crying.
My grandfather was so much more than just a grandfather to me. He was my role model. My best friend. My confidant. My biggest cheerleader.
That loss was unlike any I had ever experienced before.
The next few weeks were a blur, but I was lucky to have a great support system by my side.
It was just a little less than a month later that it came to say goodbye to Apollo. His cancer was progressing too quickly and we didn’t want him to suffer for our own selfish reasons.
That was the hardest day of my life. It felt like I had lost a huge part of me. That dog was so much more than “just a dog”. I actually wrote a full blog post if anyone is interested in reading it
— I think it’s so important to talk about losing a beloved pet, because every single pet owner will have to go through it at one point in their life.
I was lost for those few weeks. I had lost two of the most important people in my life, and yes, I am calling Apollo a person because there’s no other word I feel fits better when describing his loss.
It was a few weeks after we received Apollo’s ashes that I discovered Eterneva. I wanted to do something to memorialize both him and my grandpa, something that I could have with me for the rest of my life that let me carry them with me across life’s journey.
And in that moment, unbeknownst to me, the right door had finally opened this year.
I knew I wanted to turn Apollo and my grandpa into a diamond. They had loved each other so much, they had loved me, and I know they were together again looking over me. I just had to start saving up to make it happen.
A few weeks later, while searching for jobs in the crazy job market brought to you by 2020, I saw a listing for a position at Eterneva in my field. I thought “No way. There’s no way I get it. But what if I do?”
So I applied. And crossed my fingers. I wanted this soo badly. It felt like a sign. Here I was, right at the beginning of the grieving process, and realizing just how important it was to talk about it. And there it was, the opportunity to do just that and help others do the same.
And guess what? I got it. I got the opportunity to join a team that was changing lives by having conversations about grief and wellness, and giving others something so remarkable to remember their loved ones by.
I’m still saving up to get my ring, but now it means even more to me. It’s not only a way to carry my grandpa and Apollo with me through the rest of my life’s journey, but also a reminder of that one year where, when everything was uncertain, I was able to find the right door for me.