I always wanted a dog growing up. Like, really badly. I would ask my dad, and he would tell me to ask my mother. I would ask my mother, and she would say no. Absolutely not. They were too much work, would make a mess, and she suspected (knew) she would be the one to take care of it
So, I grew up thinking that mum didn’t like dogs until Shael and I asked her to babysit Freddie, Shael’s first dog. She loved Freddie, took her for walks, fed her treats, and felt bad that her bed was too high for her to jump up to, so she lifted Freddie onto her bed.
THE DOG! ON HER BED!
So apparently, mum did like dogs. She would pet our dogs endlessly whenever she came over, would sneak them treats and generally indulge them.
I was sitting on the couch a few months ago, and Stella, our newest, smallest, and feistiest dog, decided to sit next to me. We adopted Stella right before mum was hospitalized, so the two of them never met. Anyway, this dog has no regard for personal boundaries, and her body temperature is warm. Really warm. We were sitting quietly, and I was petting her. And then I got teary. I could see my mum on the couch, exactly where I was sitting, with Stella sitting next to her. And I could hear my mum saying, “she’s so warm, she’s like a heating pad, it feels so nice” and then laughing, somehow surprised by the amount of affection that our dogs showed her. As if they were not like everyone else who knew her.
Grief can be such a complex emotion. Remembering things that happened, imagining things that didn’t, and feeling sad about both. And then laughing at both. And that’s what it was, that afternoon on the couch. Sitting, petting a very smelly, very warm, and very sweet dog. Remembering what was, and missing what never was.