The other night I sat in our room upstairs folding laundry. Ella was in bed, tucked snugly under her fluffy white comforter and humming along to the sound of Henry’s recorder. He played all sorts of tunes, and she hummed along. They often sit together while he plays. He does quite a good job with that recorder, though he could not sing a tune on key if his life depended on it.
I could hear the water running downstairs — David was cleaning the dinner dishes, William was reading, and Kate was on the computer doing some type of homework. And I sat folding another load of laundry. I can remember back to when everything I folded had tiny little snaps and zippers and never folded up very well into a nice little rectangle the way I like. And now I fold compression shorts, and football pants and slippery basketball jerseys, cheer uniforms, plus a LOT of socks. None of those things fold very neatly either, actually. I fold and I sigh a little…time does go by.
There is a large picture window in our room which overlooks the front yard. We used to be able to look out the window and see clear down to the end of the street. Now, in just ten little years, the maple tree is so large I cannot see past it. It’s green leaves ruffled in the breeze that night, making the setting sun’s light flicker through the shutters. What I see the most when I look at that tree is it’s shade. I can remember sitting with Coco in the tiny patch of shade it provided ten years ago…we had to keep moving to stay in that shade patch because the tree was so small. That was back when he was sick, but before I knew he was sick. He would just sit there with me. I thought he had finally, at eight years old, mellowed out. It turns out that he was dying. It still to this day breaks my heart that I didn’t even know.
But life goes on…time marches on even when your world feels like it has been jarred mercilessly into stillness. You look around at all the people, and they don’t notice…they don’t realize that your world has stopped because their world has not…
The day after Coco died, we spent a few hours at the pool. I don’t think I moved from my chair much. His death exhausted me, it consumed me — the memory of it, the pain of it. But when we came home and walked through the door, I expected him to be there. I forgot. I forgot he was gone. Sorrow has a funny way of torturing a person like that for a long, long while, smothering them at first like a heavy, wet shroud, and then slowly unraveling until finally all you feel are the shreds of grief now and then.
It will be nine years without that big, old labrador next week. And now I sit here, with another dog — a beagle — on my lap. Poppy.
She is a good dog. She is seventeen pounds to his 75. She is a lot like him, to be honest. Having her doesn’t stop the missing him, though. I guess that’s the sorrow…still touching me even nine years later.
Miss you old buddy.