The other morning I woke tentatively into my new normal—-the emptiness of those first breaths without you.
As I cautiously moved myself into the day, I did the things I do; I dressed, I brushed, I walked Zac, I prayed, I ate, I prayed some more. I readied myself for another day living within your absence.
Congratulating myself on feeling emotionally “together and level”, I backed the car out of the garage, willfully focused on moving toward work.
This is good, I thought. I’m moving forward.
The morning was still soft and the light, still early. Slices of new sunlight made its way through the trees on the mountain, crisscrossing the road with patterns of possibility. My heart relaxed into its beauty.
And as I turned the car left to begin the climb up the hill, passing the white house to my right, the one I have driven past a thousand times before, everything inside of me froze: standing in the yard on the hill, facing into the new morning was a blond Doodle dog.
She was just standing there, facing out, greeting the new day, appreciating the light, I imagined, not unlike me.
I pulled over—not a car in sight—and looked at her, drinking in her presence. Silhouetted against the morning light, she just stood there, in all her Doodle-ness, about your size, not as cute, of course (our constant refrain for the twelve years of your life, upon seeing other dogs was, “Cute but not as cute as Lucy”).
I felt, I heard, a wail release from me, and then another, a new level of loss emerging, releasing into this day.
She saw me seeing her. Her tail, yours, perhaps, began tentatively waging, once, twice, the beat picking up.
She wagged her good morning, with curiosity and the possibility of some new fun.
I sat, hands clutching the steering wheel, heart cleaved open again to the loss, to the beauty of this exquisite and excruciating moment.
I forced another breath into my heaving heart, offered my silent farewell, and urged the car away, up the hill, over the mountain, into the new day without you.
Having you so close, as I left you behind, I drove toward the sunlight on the ridge.