hi, i'm Ali
Photographer, dog mom, daily walker, reader, and wife to a busy maker. I'm the voice you hear and read at Life Outside the Shop.
From new project how-to's and DIY home updates to the ins-and-outs of building a family & multiple businesses, Life Outside the Shop shares what is really looks like to figure it out as you go.
I almost started this post with, “this is long overdue” but I don’t think that is actually true.
First, Life Outside the Shop hasn’t been around for long so “overdue” doesn’t really exist yet.
Next, loss feels almost impossible to verbalize when you’re in the thick of it. And, writing things down feels vulnerable, permanent, and full of pressure when you’re sharing about something you love and want to express “the right way”. Like, if I can’t do how I feel justice, should I even try?
But most importantly, this isn’t “overdue” because it is a post that needed to happen in the right place, at the right time, in the right mindset. And, it has become more and more apparent in the last few days that the time is here.
If you like to write, you know what I mean. There is this moment when it all suddenly hits you and your fingers just start to move across the paper or keyboard. Making yourself do it too early just leads to writer’s block, frustration, jumbled thoughts, blinking cursors on a screen, or blank, taunting lines on a page.
But if you wait for that moment, it becomes easy. Or, easier.
I feel like there must be a name for this beyond just inspiration because that isn’t what this feels like. More of a need, a pull, to finally just write it out because if I don’t, it will explode out of me – probably in the form of tears, let’s be honest.
Lincoln was our world.
Before having a dog, I would have read that thinking – “ya, okay, but he is still just a pet.” And, if that is what you’re thinking I totally get it and don’t blame you one bit. If you’ve had a pet – and there is just something about dogs, isn’t there? – you know what I mean.
I’ve had friends and family members lose pets suddenly and I’ve witnessed their sadness, trying to sit in it with them. But, it isn’t something you can really explain or relate to until you’ve felt it yourself… That violent, my-heart-is-being-ripped-out, can’t-stand-on-my-own, sobbing-on-the-front-lawn, this-can’t-be-real kind of pain, and shock.
Because that is what losing Lincoln was like for us.
After a freak accident in the woods that no one had ANY control over, the bundle of joy that took up so much of our time, energy and conversation was gone. Just like that.
No more BANG on the floor as he jumps off the bed when he hears us get home from the gym. No more digging under the covers to cuddle as we fall asleep, no more Sunday afternoon romps and muddy hose-downs. No more screaming yawns, quirky looks, or drippy kisses.
No more need to get home to let out a dog and a newfound “freedom” and lack of responsibility that I absolutely hated and ate me up from the inside out.
Just silence. Silence and sadness.
But here is the thing about sadness…
It does ebb and the pain of losing the things we were so used to became – ever so slowly – memories that bring us joy and a whole lotta gratefulness that we had the chance to experience that kind of love and happiness in the first place.
I do believe – in some way, shape or form – that things happen for a reason. Even if that reason seems impossible to gleam at the moment. And, even if we never truly know what that reason is. Maybe you’ll call it blind faith. I call it the thing I need to believe to get through – essential to accepting and moving forward.
Sam and I have learned a lot about each other since Lincoln passed in June.
We learned – and are abundantly grateful for – how much we are loved by our friends and our family. Search parties of 50+ people late into the night, phone calls, letters, and the kind of drop-everything love that leaves you humbled beyond words.
We’ve learned how deeply and intimately we know one another in some ways. Sam knew exactly what I needed to hear, see, and not see when we found Lincoln and brought him home. I knew that Sam would need to do hours of laps – alone – in the woods retracing steps. I just made sure to be there with a warm cup of tea and someone to cry with when he came back through the door.
We’ve also come to realize that there are things we can continue to learn about each other. We grieve drastically differently. I need to put things away where Sam needs to touch and feel everything. I still can’t look at pictures (yet!) without bursting into tears where he finds joy and peace in it.
But mostly, we learned that we’ll be okay because we have each other and an amazing community around us. The bond we built is one that can only come through mutual loss and devastation. And honestly, if we can get through that, we can get through anything.
Maybe that is the reason. A silver of lining, a reason why.
One of the cards we got in the mail after Lincoln passed has a quote on the front that reads:
“It came to me that every time I lose a dog they take a piece of my heart with them, and every new dog who comes into my life gifts me with a piece of their heart. If I live long enough all the components of my heart will be dog, and I will become as generous and loving as they are.“
This was one of the quotes I kept on my bedside table and continued repeating to myself. It was one of the only things that brought me hope and made me smile during a time of so much darkness and so many tears.
And now, 123 days later (crazy!) as I write this post, we’re ready and excited to bring another love bug into our lives.
By ready, I mean literally-counting-down-the-seconds-all-we-talk-about-we-may-have-been-more-excited-about-this-than-our-wedding kind of excitement.
He’ll be another GSP (we can’t imagine EVER having a different breed of dog), another bucket of silly quirks, cuddly love, and more joy than we’ll know what to do with – but we’re definitely beyond ready for.
We are so, so grateful to have found local breeders who have shown us so much love and generosity over the past few months. They’ve answered our questions, sending us tons of puppy pics, and letting us hang for 3+ hours in puppy piles. We’ve built a friendship and kinship with them that we know will last a lifetime.
WOOF – there you have it. The post that I mostly wrote for me, because I needed to. Because Life Outside the Shop was started to chronicle our real lives and the things that real, living, breathing, loving, hurting humans go through.
So, I hope you were able to read a bit of you in it to… because we’re more alike and less alone than we realize. If you’ve ever lost something or someone you love and need some hope that things do get better, I promise they will.