My father-in-law dropped off the fixin’s for a kettle of pumpkin soup and it’s filling the house with warmth and winter right about now. I have chicken thighs in the oven because children aren’t always as appreciative of things like pumpkin soup as we adult types are. I’ve wiped the kitchen counter down one thousand times today and I keep sipping at a white wine because my clenched teeth are giving me a headache. It’s been a tough day.
Our pup is sick. We thought it was a cold and now we know it’s not; it’s so, so, so not a cold. Her wild and wooly heart is failing, and now mine is bursting. I want to sleep on the bathroom floor with her and tell her it’s okay that she destroyed an actual wall in our last house and assure her that we were going to replace that door she chewed through on the 4th of July anyway. I want to cart her around town and refuse to go anywhere she isn’t welcome. I want to brush her and scratch her ears, and make her so happy for today.
How on earth will we tell the boys? How will we explain that probably not today, and most likely not tomorrow, and maybe not before Christmas, but possibly before Christmas, our sweet Moo Dog will need us to make that terrible decision, the one I know is the kind and responsible thing to do, but that feels so terribly despicable? How can we give them the strength to cherish the time they have left with her, while helping them escape the fear over her every cough and every passing day? How can we ease the way for them, even just enough?
It’s a small thing, and yet it’s kind of the biggest thing. I’m thankful for that, that this passage of grief reflects just how bump-free their lives have been thus far. But it will not feel that way, for any of us. Our little guys will hurt and we will barely survive bearing witness to that hurt. It’s the price of adoring these damn animals that convince us to bring them home and inconvenience our entire lives for them; and it’s the price of parenting which is also an inconvenience, but with the benefit of parental instinct and crazy, miraculous, unconditional love on its side.
I’ll hate every second of this whole thing. And if you think I won’t find a way to bring home a puppy as soon as possible, you’re crazy. A mama can only watch her babies ache so long. But I won’t do it yet. I won’t do it until our sweet girl is gone because something tells me we’ve got to get through this one. We’ve got to walk all the way through it, and our babies need to as well. There’s something there, something deep within the waiting and the grief and the fear, something that can’t be skipped over with a pile of fluffy puppiness. We need that something, and we’ll just have to dive in deep, feel around until our fingers close around it ,and then we can push back up to the surface- where the sun bounces off the water and our heads. Where the oxygen lives. I don’t know what it is, I really have no idea. But that doesn’t matter right now.
Now is the time for telling a hard thing. Now is the time for letting the hurt come as it will. Now is the time to let them see us cry, to fill our laps and arms with themselves as they grieve- in fits and starts, in silence or in the kind of sadness that looks like anger, like rage. Now is the time for sleepovers with Moo and as many car rides as she can handle. It’s the time to watch and wait, to feel the heaviness and to remember that as hard as it is, it’s fertile ground for the learning of grief. This will serve these boys, this will teach them and it will hurt them, and that will teach them too.
Say a prayer for my boys, will you?
And maybe for my pup, too. Saying goodbye is going to break our hearts.