Our Boy Forever

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I struggle with how to begin this entry.  It is one I feel most compelled to write, but one that brings me to tears still to do so.  Our new year however has been marked by loss for Bill and I.  Our precious boy, Rocky, who filled our hearts, and home, with unimaginable amounts of love, kindness, and kisses passed away unexpectedly on the night of December 30th.  I won’t go into too many details here, because now the only fact that seems important is that he is no longer with us.  After taking him to the hospital on December 26th with what seemed to be an upset stomach and dehydration, his health quickly declined, and by the next morning, our big strong boy could no longer walk.  I felt broken myself seeing him laying in the hospital attached to tubes and IVs, knowing that only two days before we were running through fresh snow together.  We were given hope, we needed hope, because his eyes and his spirit were still so present, loving, and healthy.  The vets too gave us hope for recovery, and we clung to that hope ferociously for four days.  On the last day he contracted pneumonia, which weakened his already tired lungs. By the end of that night it was just too much.  We got to lay with him as we kissed him good-bye, thanking him for his companionship and for always being the best good boy.

I do not have the words to explain how much Rocky meant to me; what he did for me, and for Bill, or what he taught us.  The importance of our relationship with our boy is one that will only ever be understood by Bill and I.  Together we find comfort in remembering how he changed us, and the joy he gave us selflessly on a daily basis.  But to anybody who has ever lost a pet (and the word pet seems trivial and inappropriate to me at times because aren’t they so much more than that) can understand that these bonds we form with the animals we love, and who return that love 10 fold, are priceless.  Rocky came into our lives as a pet, and left as our son, our baby, the one who showed me further how to give and receive without complaint or expectation, and how to live each day full of appreciation and genuine enthusiasm.  He taught me to better love myself.   He taught Bill and I how to better love each other, to be patient with each other, and to forgive each other with genuine gentleness and sincerity.  In the five years that Bill and I have been together our boy Rocky was always by our side. We felt happiest when we were all cuddled in bed together, or out on our morning walk.  It was the simple, calm moments that I felt brought all three of us shared peace, joy, and gratitude.    I’m going to miss those moments most.

He hated when either of us cried, whether from pain, or disappointment, or frustration, or the tear jerking movie we were watching.  It was his kisses, and the worry in his eyes, that always were able to snap us out of tears and find us laughter again quickly. I’ve felt the need for his warmth and kisses more then ever, but I’ve tried to keep my face dry and my spirits high because I know thats all the big guy wanted for us: Happiness.

It’ll be a long time before that hole and quietness at home begins to feel less gaping.  But he still seems so present, and that is how I know he really will always be with us, it will be impossible for Bill and I to lose him in our hearts and mind.  And it makes me only want to hold Bill closer and love him more.  Rocky served a grand purpose in our lives, for those closer to bill and I, you may know he helped save us, just as much as we helped save each other.  Life works in unexplainable ways, and the older I get the more I learn to keep those things loved ever so close.  I have no regrets for my love for Rocky, he made it impossible not to show him everyday how much he meant to us.  I still find myself saying “I love you big guy” in my heart in head every time we leave the house, because for the past five years it was the last thing a I always made sure to tell him before walking out the door.   I want him to know I still do and always will, and I know he does.

My big boy, my baby boy, my Rock Dog, my baby bear, Rocklobsta, your dad and I loved you more than we could have known and love you still.  Thank-you for giving us our lives back and giving us a future together.  Thank-you for just being our good boy, everyday and every second.  We carry every moment with you with us.   They are the most beautiful moments we can remember.

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High Park Wildfire 2

{view from our Horsetooth Reservoir campsite last Tuesday evening looking towards the east bank}

{picture taken by onlooker standing on the east side of the reservoir as the High Park Fire approaches the west where we stood less than a week before} (found here)

Today to write about anything else seems impossible.  The High Park Wildfire has consumed the mountains west of Fort Collins, mountains that I, like all who call this part of Northern Colorado home, take great pride. The beauty and uniqueness of our geological surroundings, have always felt to be a gift, a presence of something more wonderful and more powerful, yet incredibly stable and simple, which offers itself to you with each sunset and every sunrise.

Last night Bill and I walked to City Park around midnight with Rock and sat on the top on the same hill from where I took pictures on Saturday (here) and watched as flames visibly creeped over the hills to the west of town where Lory State Park lies.  The points of orange light grew, and even from our distance you could see how the flames fed on the earth, glowing and undulating close to the ground then exploding into pockets of bright yellowy orange, knowing this was where the flames picked up momentum, as the spots of light move closer together to form one scar of fire on the hillside.   We could only watch for so long it being so late, and the smoke settling so heavy in town.  It was an unnerving and surreal image.  This morning the smoke is so thick you can’t see the foothills at all.  I can’t decide which made me more uncomfortable and disturbed.

I can only think of the love I have for our winding, wooded canyons, with spectacular views of snow peaked mountains, and picturesque horse farms that lay along back country roads which lead toward the deep, rocky cut that runs east, the Poudre River, flowing quickly and aggressively over large boulders and around sharp bends.  Here, where trails were explored, campsites discovered, memories made while seated in lopsided inner tubes that were questionable at best when headed into a clustered of exposed low water rapids, I have always felt connected.  As a military brat I think there were many times this was a hard feeling to achieve, and something I maybe craved without even being aware of its importance.  Fort Collins, and the mountains I feel just as at home in, have in many ways shaped who I am and how I view life.  The appreciation I carry with me for this is great, and I feel honored to have been given so much, for so little in return.

And all this is not gone, just marred and charred under the severe stress of Mother Nature and an awfully hot and parched landscape.  Currently I feel like I’m mourning the loss of pieces to something I love dearly, and though I know in time nature will rejuvenate itself, the mass amounts of lives and homes that found comfort and solitude here, may not.   I feel selfish for mourning at all when so many families and individual’s have lost more than I can begin to imagine.  But this is our home and I share the pain with my neighbors.    Currently the fire burns on, I can hear helicopters and air support through our cracked window, reminding me of the hundreds that are offering themselves to fight this fire and save our communities with every resource available.   I hope that the worst is over, and I hope the wind and heat don’t make firefighters’ already daunting task more impossible.

High Park Wildfire

Our beautiful summer skies have been filled with smoke and ash the past 2 days as the High Park Wildfire just west of Fort Collins grows.  Watching the expanse of the fire grow from a small plume to the large cloud of smoke encasing our town has been eerily surreal and puts my stomach in knots knowing that homes are being consumed and our precious foothills are being scarred terribly by mother nature’s flames.  Today I was planning on sharing photos from a recent camping trip up at the local reservoir, an area that now, one week later, has been threatened by heavy wind carrying the fire south, forcing an immediate evacuation of the area’s residents and visitors yesterday afternoon.  Sunday at work several friends and costumers came in after being evacuated from their homes, emotions tight and confused by the absolute quickness with which the fire moved.  From feeling safe at home, to smoke filled rooms minutes later, flowed by Sheriff’s knocks and 10 minutes to say good-bye to almost everything they called home.  Pets and loved ones and a few photo albums packed up, driving away as flames exploded on nearby hillsides.  Others shared stories of witnessing the fleeing of wildlife, in herds running away from the encroaching fire, towards Fort Collins, fearful in flight mode.  Some barely made it out, as evacuations higher in the canyon came too close for comfort.  A co-worker’s girlfriend watched as fire ignited a case of propane tanks, driving away just as the explosion fueled the flames near her home.   All these people are in safe places now, with loved ones in town and close friends, so I am thankful for officials’ efforts in evacuating threatened neighborhoods as quickly as possible, because it seems that with this fire every second counts.  Today I just wanted to send my thoughts out to all those displaced and leaving their homes behind, victim to the ferociousness and unpredictability of this fire.  I hope for the safety of all putting such brave efforts into fighting this fire both on the ground and in the air, I can’t begin to imagine the terrain and conditions that have to be tackled while facing these flames.  I have faith that the Fort Collin’s community and government will continue to step up and offer every resources we have available while facing one of the worst wildfires this area of Northern Colorado has seen in years.   More information on the fire can be read here or and update will be posted here.

{the following photos were taken around 1:15 on Saturday afternoon in City Park}

{at this point the fire was at about 8,000 acres}

{the smoke has been traveling as far as Nebraska}

{these last 4 photos were taken yesterday around 7pm in front of our place}

{air help, a helicopter en route to fill up on water}

{last night the fire was at 20,000 acres, this morning it has grown to 37,000}