Office of Reminders

Quiet, warm, and grey, morning has swallowed us again. The birds have had the dawn chorus and are still going strong, though without the…exuberance, let’s say, of their sunrise ruckus. The grapevine is about to bloom, I think, though the dahlias still haven’t made an appearance. I think the squirrels dug up and ate them, probably furious that the Yankee Squirrel Deathride 5000 is full of sunflower seeds but impervious to their tricks.

Boxnoggin needed a lot of cuddles this morning; frankly, so did I. He isn’t looking wildly around for Bailey like she did for Max after poor Odd passed on. This is a huge change and a member of the pack is gone. He’s uninterested in brekkie and relatively low-energy–at least, considering his usual self. I think he’s desperately uncertain whether this change means a corresponding difference in his rights and responsibilities, since he was relentlessly bossed and reminded of such every second of the day by Her Majesty. So he needs a lot of structure, and a lot of encouragement. His grief is more bafflement than anything. I think he forgets she’s gone near hourly.

So do I. It’s hard when I glance down before rising from any chair to make sure I won’t step on her. I tuck my feet under my kitchen chair because she habitually settled before it, and going down the hall without her padding behind me is unnerving. Last night I woke up a few times, almost frantic because I could only hear one set of canine snores.

You know what else is weird? For the first time in decades, I’m visiting the loo alone–and when I open the door, there is no reproachful stare and audible huff of displeasure. Bailey didn’t even like that small separation; she was a true Velcro dog. It’s also so strange to use her name here. While living, my pets have noms d’internets; it’s just safer for everyone that way. But now, I suppose it doesn’t matter.

I have to try for some work today. The schedule doesn’t stop for grief, and if I don’t write we don’t eat. There are still plenty of living beings depending on me. The kids have taken it hard–she was their first dog, and taught them a lot–and our dinner last night was full of stories. Remember that time she got Max in trouble with the ham? Remember how she used to sit right there? Oh, man, I just checked under the table for her…remember how she herded squirrels? Remember that time at the dog park where she herded six dogs out into the field?

Remember, remember, remember. It’s what we have left.

So I drink my coffee in an office full of reminders. Boxnoggin divides his time between keeping watch out the front window and coming to check on me, sometimes just for a moment, sometimes needing a belly rub and to be reassured that he’s a good boy. Since we don’t have an elderly companion walkies can be longer this morning; as soon as I move away from the desk and breakfast-ward he’ll be comforted by the sameness of routine and excited at the prospect of a ramble.

Thank you all for your kind words, and especially for the donations to the Humane Society in Bailey’s memory. I can’t respond personally to each as I’d like–for one thing, the sobbing would soon become endemic–but please know I read each and every one, and I am comforted a bit by your kindness. I know everyone thinks their dog is exceptional, and that every dog is exceptional, but Bailey really was the best. Thank you, very much.

It’s a terrible thing, that the world can go on when someone we love is gone. I know it’s how it should be, I know it’s for the best. And yet that’s no comfort. Not yet, not now, perhaps not ever.

So I’ll finish my coffee and try for some breakfast. Then Boxnoggin and I will ramble, and I’ll tell him what a good boy he is. I’ll try to work today, and to tell my kids and friends that I love them. I’ll do my chores, cry when I have to, and sink my grief into stories, trying to find some meaning in All This. That’s the job, that’s the work, and it continues.

Over and out.