Borrowed Time

“Honey, I want to tell you something, but I don’t want you to freak out.” 

Craig had just sat down to his dinner. He reluctantly responded with, “What is it baby?”

After a moment, I said, “I was cuddling with Izzie this afternoon and I happened to notice one of her lymph nodes is enlarged again. One of the ones under her chin.”

He was silent. “I guess we were expecting this,” he said after a while. “We knew we were on borrowed time.”

Craig was right. We borrowed  this time, during which we gave her so many treats and so many cuddles. We made sure she was happy and loved. And in the meantime, she brought us so much joy with her excited energy each time we come home.

Even so, I hated discovering this enlarged lymph node. It left a pit in my stomach. Yesterday I took Izzie out with me on a Pokemon hunt. We’ve been doing more of these lately. Sometimes we just drive around and she hangs out in the front seat. Other times we’ll actually stop at a park and go for a short walk, nothing too strenuous. 

In recent years, others have diverted my attention from her. First Craig, then, one by one, each of the cats. But Izzie has remained my constant shadow throughout all of life’s changes, following me from room to room and intently observing my moves and my moods. 

But when she and I are alone like this, I’m reminded of what it was like before all of that. When it was just me and her. 

As we strolled along the edge of the pond in Huffines Park, this time I was the one observing her. I watched as she sniffed at the grass and occasionally paused to gaze across the water. I remember when she was younger, she could not keep still when we were out at the park. She she would sniff and tug at her leash, wanting to go wherever her nose told her. But as she grew older, she became more docile and less excitable. Sometimes she would stand still, staring off into the distance, for a while. What was she thinking? I wondered. Was she pondering her future like humans do? Or was she just living in the moment, contemplating whether or not she had the energy to chase the pack of birds that were milling about ten feet away?


In an impulsive fit of desperation and confusion, I called my mother on the phone the other day. I’m not sure what triggered me to do this. Maybe because I was feeling so many things at the time–hurt, sadness, rejection, regret… so many things.

“Mom, I want to ask you something,” trying to keep my tears from overtaking my voice. “Remember how you told me that when you found out you were pregnant with me, your doctor suggested having an abortion?”

There was a few seconds of silence on the other end. “Yes,” she said hesitantly, “…do… do you think I should have aborted you?”

“No, no of course not mom,” I said. “I… I think I just want you to know, that even if you did… even if you wanted to abort me, but felt the need to keep me because you would be ashamed of how our family would perceive you, I wanted you to know that I would never be upset with you for wanting to abort me.”

“What…? What’s going on?”

So I told her. I told her about how I got pregnant when I was in college, how I wanted an abortion, but I miscarried instead. I cried and I struggled to get through my story. I wasn’t sure, at that point, what I was trying to achieve by telling her this 19 years later. I felt like a crazy woman with a home in the middle of a raging wild fire. And rather than allowing the fire to destroy her home, she torches it herself before the wild fire could get it.

“If I came to you and Daddy back then when I was pregnant,” I said. “What would you have done?”

I knew the moment it left my mouth, that it was a dumb question. To ask someone how they would’ve reacted to an event on the past was a stupid as trying to answer for the future. But somewhere in my crazed mind, it felt logical. It felt logical because I was looking for some kind of answer, some sort of justification, that I did the right thing.

“We would’ve supported you,” she said. “We would’ve taken care of you and the baby… like what we did with Aileen and Joshua. We wanted her to have the baby because we didn’t want an abortion in our family… you know how the church is.”

There it was, the confirmation I needed.

“And what if I wanted an abortion?” I asked. “What if I got an abortion?”

“Daddy and I would have been upset. We would’ve asked you why you would do that when we told you we would support you.”

After a moment, I asked, “But would you have still loved me if I got an abortion?”

“Of course I would still love you,” she said. “You are our baby.”

Moments pass. “I love you now,” she said.

I cried.

“You know we love you. You are the most spoiled out of all of them,” she said. I laughed through my tears.

“I love you too, mom.”

I realize now what I really needed 19 years ago was absolution, not from other people like my mom, but from myself. Because now I know I did the right thing. By keeping my pregnancy to myself and away from outside parties, I was truly thinking for myself and not allowing anyone else to influence my decision.

Who knows? I probably would’ve kept the baby if my family had been involved. But my life would’ve been much different then, maybe not worse or better even, just different. I wouldn’t have the life I have now.

And I love the life I have now.

Stories From the 9%

I have cried a lot for the last few days. My tears represent many things, sometimes it’s despair over what our world is coming to.

Sometimes my tears represent my regrets. Would things have been better had I not said anything at all?

But I look at my life, I look at my friends and my husband and I think no. I have all of this because of that one event that occurred when I was 23, and many events thereafter.

Because at that time, I had one more year left of college and my whole life ahead of me planned. And then one day I took a pregnancy test and it told me something that would forever change me from that point on.

I grew up Catholic and although my religion at the time revolved more around class presentations, writing papers and celebrating the successful completion of said papers with booze, Catholicism was still the only set of beliefs I knew.

So when I got pregnant, I thought long and hard about my options. I was clearly not ready to have a baby. My partner and I at the time were still young and we both still had plans that did not include raising a child. I also lived through my sister’s experience with her unexpected pregnancy and what it did to my parents–how it affected our entire family in both negative and positive ways. But also how it affected me, how it cascaded into the many lectures my mother gave me as a teenager about how to not put myself in that same predicament, how she said I need to focus on school and my career and being able to take care of myself first before getting pregnant.

Did I really have to commit the next 18 years of my life to another human being I didn’t want all because I didn’t know that the pill is only 99% effective when taken PERFECTLY? Otherwise it’s only 91% effective?

I remember making appointments that week (only after taking multiple pregnancy tests to make sure I was indeed pregnant). I visited Planned Parenthood and talked to a counselor there about my options, what to expect, next steps. My partner supported me every step of the way.

I was ready.

Meanwhile I could feel this… energy in my belly. It was hard to describe. It felt like a ball of electricity, humming and working its scientific processes to form itself. In my head, I kept telling it I was sorry, but I was not ready for it yet. “Someday I might want you, but right now you are not in my plans.” One night, the humming stopped.

And then the next morning, I miscarried.

I remember skipping classes that day, lying in bed for hours from the pain. I took constant trips to the bathroom to change my menstrual pad and sit over the toilet so my body could go through the natural process of flushing out what it needed to. My best friend Christina and neighbor lived on the other side of my building and checked on me, brought me food. She said she was sorry I was going through this. I wasn’t though. The pain was excruciating, but the long term results were worth it.

I never told anyone about this. Only my partner and Christina knew. Later I would tell my cousin Mae, who has also been one of my best friends. It was the first time I would be met with opposition. I distinctly remember driving while I was on the phone with her at the time. “You shouldn’t use abortion as birth control,” she said.

The conversation didn’t go much farther than that. I remember feeling… ashamed. But I didn’t resent her for not supporting my choice. Because I know that her opinion was only reflective of what she would do in that situation, and I know mine was right for me. We continued to be in each others lives through every major event. I was even her bridesmaid in her wedding. For years I maintained the belief that she did not agree with my choice and I was ok with that, I love her all the same.

The other night, she messaged me. She said she saw the back-and-forth my sisters and I got into on one of my pro-choice posts. We both laughed about it. “You and your sisters man… but yeah, mind ya business,” she said, referring to my sisters. “I myself don’t understand why we care so much of what other people believe or what they are doing. We have too many uneducated fools getting pregnant and not knowing how to raise their kids. And then we end up having to pay for them or they grow up with no support and they end up shooting our children?”

“Fuck that shit,” she added. I smiled.

“Yeah, I totally agree,” I said, “That’s the point I was trying to get across to them. Like, you don’t have to do anything you don’t want or even believe in, but it is not your place to decide for others.”

We talked about other things, like how her 10 year old daughter was asking questions about all the events that were happening right now and what it meant that women were losing their rights to their own body. She said she even had to get a book on how to navigate controversial topics with pre-teen kids.

“Wow, I think I need to read that,” I said. Only because I wanted to know what it was like to be a parent to pre-teens in this social climate.

That night, I slept soundly, much more soundly than I had in days. I didn’t have thoughts of worry bouncing around in my head.

More and more, people in my life continued to come out of the woodwork and express their understanding about how body autonomy should be a fundamental human right for both women and men, that without those rights, we may as well be slaves.

It doesn’t matter to me whether or not someone chooses abortion as an option. It’s irrelevant. What matters to me is that women are fully informed of all their options and have access to as many safe procedures and processes, whatever they may be. Because what I’ve learned is that as women, we need to be safe havens to other women, no matter their situation or skin color. We have to refrain from imposing our own morals on them and provide them with a judgement free zone so that they can be comfortable in whatever path they choose.

"When you have something to say, silence is a lie," - Jordan B. Peterson

The Beginning is the End

The last two weeks have been stressful and eye opening.

I have learned many things… I’ve learned to allow myself to be vulnerable. I’ve learned about the ugliness that organized religion perpetuates, and about how even family can turn their back on you when all you wanted was love and acceptance. That despite their own beliefs, they could not see me as an individual with my own experiences and my own history that led me to be who I am today, and still love and support me for it.

At the same time however, I’ve also learned that I am not alone. That there are many women out there, a lot of whom I’m fortunate to call a friend, who support me and other women like us, who believe that we have a right to our own bodies. Women who know that to have autonomy of your own body should be a fundamental human right. I’ve learned about the kindness and camaraderie from women who know what it means to believe in the greater good.

So what started this, you wonder?

A few days after the overturning of Roe v. Wade, my sister Aileen texted our sister chat and tells me the story about how when my mom found out she was pregnant with me. My mom’s told me this before. Back then my mom was a 45 year old married woman with a full time job and 3 young children at home, so upon learning of her pregnancy, her doctor said that abortion was an option for her.

My mom, being a devout Catholic, told the doctor she could never abort her baby. That was that.

I did not ask for this topic of discussion, mind you. I would’ve gladly spent the rest of my life avoiding this subject with my sisters but it was brought up to me in a way that I could not avoid responding, as if I should’ve been clutching my pearls knowing that I came so close to death because of The Evil Abortion-Loving OBGYN.

But, Praise the Lord, my mother had the Holy Spirit in her to deny him.

“Cool,” I said. “It’s great she had a choice.” My remark was meant to be a bit mocking. I think it went over Aileen’s head. I could have gone back to selectively reading their text chatter… but I thought back to my therapy sessions, how my therapist and I were working on me building more confidence and speaking up for myself.

At that moment, I chose growth over stagnation. So I said, “However, I would not have held it against her if she decided to get an abortion. I wouldn’t hold it over any woman.”

Can of worms–open.

What I received back was shock, stun. They asked me why. I said I just personally prefer having the ability to decide for myself whether or not I would want to have a baby. I think every woman should have that choice.

And then they started to go into specifics. What about a heartbeat? What about this or that? While I’m not saying that a woman should abort her baby at 36 weeks on a whim, I just left it open. Whatever the woman decides is right for her.

And then Aileen asked me the dreaded question. “What if you accidentally got pregnant but didn’t want it? You would get an abortion?”

Another moment where I had to choose between growth and stagnation. “I did get pregnant,” I said, “I was 23 years old, still in college. And yes, I did plan on getting an abortion but then I ended up miscarrying before I could get one. It was painful. Christina (one of my best friends) was there and she took care of me.” I’ve kept this tidbit of info to myself for almost 19 years now, only allowing a select few to know this, those I trusted.

When you’re carrying shame, you keep it to yourself and you hide it. You let it eat at you from inside. And if you share it, you only share it with those you really trust. The ones who will not judge you, who will love you unconditionally regardless of differences. But after much therapy and many years of experience, I’m learning to transform that shame back to what it originally was… just a powerless event in my life. An event that has shaped me into who I am, but does not rule over me. An event that taught me to show compassion and love for those who were in a similar situation.

Again, their response was shock, stun. Elaine started spewing off some bullshit about how God made my choice for me so it wasn’t my choice to make. That I should see it in THAT perspective. I just rolled my eyes. It reminded me of the smug, self righteous women who go to abortion clinics for a procedure, justifying themselves that it was “God’s will” and that their pregnancy was different.

Elaine even went as far to say that if I was saved, when I go to heaven I can see my baby. Oh, you mean that mass of cells and blood that was expunged from my uterus? Does Heaven have a direct connection with the Denton sewer system because last I remember, that’s where “my baby” went after it left my body.

I didn’t say that of course, but I was thinking it.

“Ok, well either way, sometimes you can do everything you’re supposed to to prevent pregnancy and it still doesn’t work. If i was again in a position where I couldn’t raise a child, and I had the choice to have a safe abortion,” I said, “I would do it.”

It was the nail in the coffin. Elaine asked, “Not even adoption as a choice?”


Maybe I was harsh. Maybe I didn’t sugar coat it to ease their frail minds, but I’m not trying to turn it into something it’s not. I don’t believe in fairytales or magic. I don’t believe in The Power of Prayer and how it’ll beam my miscarried baby into a special place in the sky with all the chosen people who decided to accept his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ into their hearts.

I believe in the world we live in now, the one that is filled with people who are struggling with real problems. I also believe in making this world better, not by telling them to promise their soul to a sky god, but by believing in them and giving them hope and letting them know that together, we can make this world a Paradise.

Izzie’s Vacation From the Cats

Absolutely nothing can prepare you for the moment when you discover that your landscapers left your backyard gate open when you let your dog out into the yard unattended. What’s worse is that we didn’t discover it was open until an eternity later. By then, she was gone and nowhere within eyesight from our yard. 

I had just ended my team meeting when I heard Craig shout from the back door, “SHOOT! …OH SHOOT! SHOOT!” Literally, that’s what he was exclaiming. Considering the situation, that was the most censored expletive I’ve heard him use despite the many profane words he’s used for the most mundane things, like losing the other half of a pair of socks. 

I walked out into the living area. “What’s wrong?”

“Jason’s! They left the gate open. Izzie’s out!”

My heart dropped and I ran for my shoes. I could hear Craig shouting orders from the kitchen, like the good dad he is in any crisis when it comes to the girls… but all I could think of was, “Oh my god. She’s not here. And I don’t know where she is.” 

I didn’t even have time to tell my boss what was happening, I just shut down my chat to avoid getting any messages from people assuming I was at my computer and I ran to my car. 

We live on what I like to call cul de sac row. It’s a sequence of cul de sacs next to train tracks in old Richardson. Our houses are 70 year old, small, boxy structures, but the lot sizes are plentiful, the smallest being almost a quarter of an acre, the largest just under half an acre. So there’s a lot of open space around our houses for a little dog like her to get lured into.

Izzie wasn’t visible from any vantage point on our street. I searched the alleys of cul de sac row, checked every drive way, the gulley next to the train tracks. Craig was on foot at first, but when we realized she was nowhere near, we knew we had to expand our search so Craig got into his car. 

I crossed the main street into the other part of the neighborhood, again looking for any little white fluff floating around. Once or twice, I mistook a plastic shopping bag for her and that just deflated my spirits. The more we looked, the bigger the search area grew in my head and the smaller my hopes became. “How could she be gone?” I kept thinking. She’s never been gone this long or this far. In the past when the gate was left open, she would always do something funny like walk around to the front door and bark there instead, or walk over to the neighbor’s house. But now… now she was gone.

Craig and I crossed each other in an alley. “I’m going to check the neighborhood over there,” he said. I told him I would go south on Bowser.  We were at least covering multiple areas at the same time, so that gave me some hope that one of us will see her.

But again, like the previous neighborhood, the next one south of Belt Line only reminded me that this is an area she’s not in, which means there are others she could be in. 

And yet, maybe she could be no where, period. As in… what if someone picked her up? Someone who just wants a stray, friendly and complacent dog? For… whatever purpose. That is what terrifies me. 

A lifetime later, I pulled into our driveway back home and unsuccessful. The knot in my stomach was growing tighter and tighter and I was already crying. Craig pulled into the driveway next to me. He was barking more orders, “We have to take this online now. You have to get on Nextdoor and start posting and looking in the Lost and Found category… Call Richardson Animal Control and report her… I’m going to call Jason’s and fucking tell them to get their fucking guys down here and look…” 

I knew his irrational demand for our lawn guys come and help us look for Izzie meant that he was  reaching levels of desperation I’d never seen before. This made me even more emotional and I could feel the weakness entering my legs. I wanted to crumple to the pavement right there. Every passing second put more and more distance between her and us.

But no, he was right. We couldn’t give up already. I followed him inside and I got on my computer. I immediately sent a “Lost Dog” report to our local animal services after finding a recent photo I took of her in the vegetable garden next to her favorite garden snack (the kale patch). And then I logged onto NextDoor, a site that I never visit because its drama is 10x worse than Facebook.

That’s when I saw it, posted 28 minutes ago. 

Izzie couldn’t have looked happier or more alive than she did in that photo. I immediately responded, “OMG THAT’S MY IZZIE!” I called Craig, who had already started scouting the train tracks on foot to look for her. “She’s been spotted!” I said, “On Bowser near the Pharmco building, heading towards Belt Line. I’m driving there now.”

I couldn’t get there fast enough. I may have even run the red light at Bowser and Belt Line to get there, but I didn’t care. I needed to get her back to safety. 

But by the time I arrived at Pharmco, she was nowhere to be found. I even checked along Frances and headed east. Nothing. 

When I looked at NextDoor again, there was another sighting of her.  “There is a little white terrier type dog running on Frances Way near Townhouse Lane. No collar. Does he belong to someone here?” That was just one block over from where I was. I hurried over there as fast as I could, but again she wasn’t there. Or maybe she wasn’t visible from the street. 

Time stood still in that car as I drove up and down residential streets, looking down alleyways and in driveways. I probably looked like a madwoman, calling her name from my car all the while refreshing my NextDoor app on my phone to see if there’s been any additional sightings or comment. 

She had been traveling down Frances Way, I knew that much. I don’t think she turned around and went back home. I can’t imagine she crossed Grove either because that was a busy street.  So I kept weaving through the streets near Townhouse Lane and Frances, hoping to catch a glimpse of her somewhere.

Then  there was another alert on NextDoor. “I tried to get her on Shirley Ct. but she kept on trotting down the street. She must have turned and gone down Frances Way. This was about 15 minutes ago.”

Shirley Court? I looked that up on Google Maps. 

Son of a bitch, she DID cross Grove! That little stinker! So I crossed over to that neighborhood. I was getting closer, I knew it. I could feel it. I drove down Shirley Ct. once, twice but didn’t see her. I stayed on streets near Shirley Ct. and along Frances Way. I wasn’t going to give up. 

And then a new message showed up in NextDoor. It was a photo of Izzie. Someone said they were able to get her attention and now had her on Shirley Ct. They posted her photo, a close up of her dopey, dirty, but exhilarated face and left their phone number. Later, I mapped out her path on Google Maps and she’d traveled almost a mile from our house! She crossed 4 particularly busy streets, one of which is a main street running through the heart of our town, and countless residential streets. Where was she even going?! Was she really trying to run away or was she trying to find her way back and getting more lost and lost by the second?!?

My hands shook as I clicked to call the posted number. A man picked up.

“Hi, my name is Kristine! I’ve been looking for my dog Izzie. She’s a white mini schnauzer. I just saw you posted a photo of her on NextDoor.”

“Oh yeah! She’s right here,” he said. “I happened to me out in my yard and she walked right up to me.”

“Oh my goodness! Oh thank you!” I said. “I’ve been driving around trying to find her. Where are you located? I’m on Frances Way and Martha Manor.” He gave me his address.

When I pulled up to the house, the garage door was open and a tall, lanky gentleman with shaggy white hair and glasses came walking out. He held Izzie was in his arms as if they were old pals spending the afternoon together. 

“Oh my goodness! Izzie!” I cried. Her little ears perked up as she saw me and she leaped into  my arms. I said to him, “Thank you again. Thank you SO much. I’ve been with her for 14 years… I don’t know what I would’ve done.”

“Wow she’s 14? She’s a little athletic for an old girl!” he said. “Yeah I just happened to be out here in my yard when she came up to me.”

“I’m so glad,” I said. “I’m upset that our landscapers left the gate open but I’m glad I was able to find her.”

“Yeah I don’t always put collars on mine when they go out in the yard either, it seems silly you know,” he said. “I have 2 dogs of my own so I’d be devastated too.”

I cuddled Izzie close as she panted, her tiny little body tired from her extensive walk. I thanked him again as I turned to get back into my car and we pulled away from the curb to go home. 

I called Craig. “I got her,” was all I said. 

There was a pause. Perhaps a sigh of relief. “Good,” he said. “Good, I’ll see you  two at home.”

We drove home in silence. I should’ve lectured her, but I was too tired. Later, I would retell her story with an amusing spin to it like it was a tale of Izzie’s Great Escape. All she wanted to do was get away from the annoying cats and the watchful eyes of her mom who was now home 24/7 since the pandemic started.

In reality, Craig and and I were in pieces without her, him even more so because he felt responsible for her being gone in the first place. But not once did I blame him. And although our landscapers did leave the gate open, it was an honest mistake that Craig and I have made before ourselves, so I wasn’t entirely angry at them either.

Izzie crawled into my lap as I drove, as she was prone to do when she didn’t have her harness, and looked out the window. Maybe this is all she needed, I thought. She needed something different from the daily mundane routine we’ve been in the last several weeks. And yeah, I forget that this quarantine hasn’t only affected me, but it’s clearly had an affect on her too. She might be an old dog, but she still wants to see it go by at lightning speed.