Just last week I started the crazy effort of moving back into my home in Colorado and suffice it to say I have too much stuff! Anytime you move you always have that period of time where you can’t find this or that and you have no idea at the moment where that particular thing is. You walk around for days looking for something wondering where it is. For me it hasn’t been the sofa pillows or mixing bowls, that are indeed missing, it’s been our dog Buddy.
His absence from this house that I have only known with him in it is palpable. I knew how much I was missing him when on the first morning I woke up in the house I went down to the laundry room to let him out of his kennel – only to remember that Buddy isn’t with us anymore. The next morning I didn’t wake up looking for him but I noticed that when I walked into my son Chase’s room I subconsciously expected to see him sitting on the end of the bed. This was a favorite spot for him to perch and stare at the path next to our house watching for possible intruders. He was a faithful guard dog.
Chase noticed right away that the house didn’t feel the same without Buddy. He’s been talking about another dog for months so I’m wasn’t surprised by this. He’s an animal lover and was ready for another dog friend right away after Buddy’s passing. I wasn’t as ready because the attachment scares me. Like most mother’s, however, I find it hard to resist my son’s charms and so another puppy it is.
Years ago when our beloved Buddy was having health problems as a result of bad breeding practices I swore that if I ever got another puppy it would be from Brien and Sandy. I only refer to them by their proper names in person. Behind their backs I lovingly call them the Schnauzer Nazis’. This is a spoof of the Seinfeld episode about the Soup Nazis – a man so who is so intense about his soup making craft that you can be banished from his shop if you don’t behave reverently.
Brien and Sandy own a grooming shop and breed and show miniature Schnauzers. They are passionate about their dogs and won’t let just anyone purchase their puppies. You have to prove that you will provide great care or you are out. Fortunately we have some history with them. When Chase and I walked into their shop and told them we were looking for another puppy Sandy told me she’d just been wondering who her last male puppy would be going to.
I don’t know who was more excited Chase or me. We came home and shared the news with his Grandma and brother and everyone was smiling from ear to ear. We all want another furry friend. We talked about it and agreed that the new puppy would be named Buddy Too. He’s not Buddy the second he’s named Buddy “also”. The first Buddy is irreplaceable and we have no doubt we’ll feel the same about our next Buddy. In fact, we’ve been told by the Schnauzer Nazis’ that his temperament is very different which adds to the fun. He’ll be a new friend for us to get to know and love.
As I’ve been rolling all this around in my head wondering why we’re so excited I realized that it’s the loving part that means so much to us as a family. If I’ve learned anything in the last year it’s that life is a cycle of loving and grieving. Being alive requires of us experience with both holding on and letting go. We cling to what we love and yet life requires that we also let go of what we love. These daily experiences mark our existence. The two things we do together as humans are experience love and sorrow. The joy of loving is something we readily embrace but as hard as we might try we cannot sidestep the sources of grief. They are all around us – violence, hatred, greed, ignorance, revenge and the complete disregard for human life. The sources of grief are as varied as the grief-stricken.
I think this is why after a year of riding an emotional rollercoaster with highs, lows, and unexpected twists and turns our little family is looking for something to love together. We all know it won’t solve any of our problems but we know from experience that something to love collectively will remind us that we are standing next to each other. We are not alone. The daily experience of living in a broken world is not something we have to do by ourselves. The bumps and bruises we endure won’t hurt as much when a pair of hopeful eyes is staring up at us.
Just like a baby changes a family so will our new puppy albeit on a smaller scale. He’s going to have to be cared for, loved, and trained. He’s going to be lots of fun and lots of trouble and this is going to require some teamwork. His little discoveries will become ours and so will his misadventures. We’ll talk about him, laugh about him, and probably even complain about him. Then ultimately one day we’ll cry about losing him but it will all be done together and that is where we’ll find the joy. Life is cyclical. Endings are beginnings. Beginnings don’t take away the pain of endings but they do remind you that you are still alive and connected to something bigger than yourself.