If I wanted to make this a longer but more accurate title, I’d call it “On Grief… and the ways it can suddenly, unexpectedly gut you.” But that seemed a tad unwieldy.
I babysat today. My dog is an ass and took off yesterday while I was out, which resulted in my stepdad having to chase her to the neighbour’s: not a big deal until you consider the fact that there is a large field between our houses. Yeah, not so fun. To make up for it I offered to babysit tonight (well, technically Saturday night, but it’s not tomorrow until I wake up, okay?!) so that my mom and stepdad could go out for supper and a movie. They haven’t had time together in a while since they have three small kids and businesses to run.
All was fine. Supper was almost made when I got home, so it was just a matter of wrangling a five-, four-, and two-year-old into their seats to get some food into them, then keep them entertained until bedtime. Getting the two-year-old to bed was all kinds of fun, but that’s another story. No, the moment I’m coming to happened while we were eating. I don’t know how many suppers you’ve had with kids of that age, but they have a tendency to be honest. Not tactlessly; just completely, guilelessly, gut-wrenchingly and heartbreakingly honest about everything because to them the world is still black and white. They haven’t come to see all the grey in between, all the shadowy areas that complicate life. They call it as they see it, which usually gives you the truth in its purest, simplest form.
The door here at home has a big window on it, in four panes. The lowest is rather close to the door. Our family dog wasn’t an inside dog after she reached maturity, and so the kids never knew her as one. My dog, however, being the buffoon she is, is an inside dog because as an outside dog she would run away. She is also clingy. (Lying in her bed by my feet as I type this.) With this combination, her being banished to the porch wasn’t an idea she was keen on. While we ate she regularly hopped up to put her paws on the door and look in the window to give us her most pathetic look ever, which I must say is pretty pathetic. Look at that face.
|Taken as I was about to leave the house.
“PLEASE TAKE ME WITH YOU OR I WILL PLAGUE
YOU WITH GUILT FOR LEAVING ME HERE.”
Kids like to compare stuff. So the four- and five-year-old started telling me about the family dog. When they asked about why my dog is inside instead, I explained that unlike our dog, mine would run away and get hurt. And then my little siblings broke my heart and started telling me about how one day our dog was outside and she got too close to the road when a car came, and she had bobos, and now she’s dead and gone.
There is nothing, nothing quite so painful as a completely innocent reminder of an event that caused enormous grief, said in the matter-of-fact voice of a child who doesn’t even lift his head from his colouring book.
It hurt. The reminder, the total artlessness to their saying it, the mournful edge in my little sister’s voice. All of it. And it stuck with me, even though I’m in a good mood. Just when you think you’re almost okay—and I did; a little pang, coming into the yard for the first time in a while on Thursday with no dog there, but no tears—something happens to bring it back. Suddenly I realize it’s been almost a year since we lost her. Not just a pet, but a family member. In fact, my first post on this blog dealt with Mustang’s loss.
Nearly a year, and it still hits me. Grief never goes away, I know that. It settles in the back of your mind, just under your heart, and lingers in the background, sometimes quietly and sometimes not so quietly, not unlike a chronic illness. Sometimes you deal with it. Sometimes you give in to it.
Right now I’m giving in. I miss that mutt.
|Mostly she was goofy. But then she
had moments like this.