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Looking back on a tough six months

We're only halfway through this year, and I want to scrap it and start all over. I'm tired of all the bad things that have happened to my family in 2004. The first 19 days started with such promise, and it was a quick downhill slope from there.

It started with the death of my 16-year-old cousin in a car accident on Jan. 20. A few weeks later, my wife's cousin met the same fate. Also, a great uncle of mine had a stroke while driving and later passed away from complications. Then a close family friend lost his long battle with cancer.

My wife has struggled all year to put her newly-earned college degree to work, only to find that the economy isn't quite ready to cooperate. All the while I've moved into my car and become a recluse because I'm always on the way to or from something with my two jobs.

And then on Wednesday came another blow. My sister's dog Molly that had battled bone cancer and lost her leg -- the one that participated in the Relay for Life survivor's walk -- was found to have the disease in her spleen and liver. It had spread beyond repair, and she was put down on last Thursday.

I will admit, I try to think of a pet as "just a dog" or "just a cat." And it's easier to do now that I don't have any. Those feelings aside, this new chapter in 2004 is something that I feel couldn't have come at a worse time.

We haven't healed from Jan. 20 yet. My sister and cousin were very close. We grew up thinking of our cousins as siblings, so the pain is still very near the surface.

The thing that makes this most recent tragedy all the more difficult for my sister is that she has always loved animals. She knew when she was five years old that she wanted to be a vet. She graduated with an animal science degree from UGA, and is trying to get into vet school. She even works with exotic birds now.

In movies and even in real-life video clips of horse-and-rider accidents, she is always concerned with the welfare of the horse. It's like the rider doesn't exist.

Taking care of animals is what she loves, and it is what she is good at. Losing a friend like Molly on top of everything else that has taken place this year will no doubt take its toll on her and the family.

I know there are many others out there who are going through terrible times as well. By no means am I trivializing their troubles. I'm just sharing mine.

We appreciate everyone's thoughts and prayers during our year of mourning. God will get us through.

I'm just holding my tongue right now because I know it wouldn't be prudent to ask the dreaded question, "What next?" We never know what that might bring, and the truth is, I don't think I want to know.

Web posted on Thursday, June 17, 2004

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