A few days before Christmas, I submitted my final thesis. My research, in which I explored the social and economic impact yellow fever outbreaks had on blacks in America, in both slave and abolition societies, spanned the course of 100 years and followed the stain of slavery from post-Revolution Philadelphia to the Reconstruction South. It was clearly the most in-depth piece of work I have ever written and it knocked me on my ass. So I walked away from my computer for a few months. It’s been a nice reprieve, but I’m ready to write again.
In mid-December, I learned the Lake County Humane Society had a hamster available for adoption. My husband, not much of a rodent-lover, had always expressed his disapproval whenever I mentioned having a hamster as a pet. I had hamsters as pets when I was in high school, but we’d always justified not getting any more pets because we had so many dogs. But things had very recently changed in our house, and we, or, more likely, I, needed a distraction from those changes. Happy that I could possibly adopt a hamster who was already middle-aged and provide her with a good home for the remainder of her short life, I went to meet her. She screamed at me immediately, so we knew we had to have her.
Everyone, meet Tuna. She’s as spoiled as the dogs. Proof of that is in the bank statement that shows I just spent $30 on a fancy hamster wheel that won’t hurt her back. And now she only screams at me when I try to take her out of her hamster ball and put her back into her house. Tuna is never afraid to voice her displeasure.
A month before I completed my final edits, I accepted a full-time position at a nearby historic inn. I sometimes work ten days straight before I get a day off, and my days usually start early, around 5:00 or 5:30. By the time I come home I have enough energy to tell everyone to make their own dinner before I crash into bed at 9 o’clock. Days off never seem to hold enough hours to help me recuperate before I’m back at it again.
Two weeks before I started my new job, we said goodbye to one of our dogs. Chimay, the matriarch of our dog pack, was almost 13-years old. She had lost most of her sight a few years earlier. Mooey, as we affectionately called her, passed away early on a Wednesday morning, at an hour when we were all home to say our goodbyes. We stroked behind her ears and whispered to her, and we held her paw as she took her last breath. And let me tell you, I am so grateful for that, that I could be there to comfort her. And in her last moments, she even tried to comfort us. It was the most beautiful and heartbreaking moment of my life thus far.