Another month is coming to a close and the season’s have changed once again. Normally I would still be wrapped up in the illusion of a few more warm days- not quite ready to let go. But this year I experienced what felt like the longest summer-in all the wrong ways. The grief that came with losing a beloved pet, a family member, made the months of July and August almost unbearable.
I tried to adjust to my new circumstances. For the longest time I was frustrated with our other dog, the basset hound, Dillinger. I wanted him to walk with me. I wanted back the companionship I had with Kody when we would sneak out of the house to watch the sunset at the back of the field or count the lightning bugs as they first came out for the night.
I tried to take Dillinger places we used to go, but he would dig in his heels, sit down stubbornly in the field and then howl if I left him.
A sadness filled me. It filled the corners of the house that felt more empty than ever before. Dilley stopped eating milk bones, which if you knew him, didn’t make any sense. He would, instead, hide them in places where Kody used to sleep. It was clear he was missing her too.
The summer wrapped up…Labor Day came and went…Nick and I went away for a weekend… The thought of returning to see Dillinger made me happy. I was finally able to look forward to seeing him instead of thinking only about how sad it was that she wouldn’t be there.
So I decided to try again with Dilley in the field. I put him on the long lead and dropped the end so that he could follow me at his own pace. At first I thought his putziness meant he was going to stay back and howl, like he usually did. But I kept walking, slowly, and he kept following. I let myself get out of sight, wondering what he might do.
All of a sudden he caught up to me, hopping through the weeds. He looked surprised to find me standing there, waiting. His hearing is going and his eye sight isn’t always so sharp, but in true hound fashion he was tracking me, following my trail. So I picked up the end of the lead and he bounded into step beside me. And we walked.
I glanced over to see him alert and eager, a look I hadn’t seen in months. His ears were gently swaying as he pushed forward, his tail was straight up and wagging. I wondered- what had gotten into him? Maybe he missed me. Maybe he knew how important it was for him to walk with me. Maybe he just caught a good scent… Or maybe, more likely, he just didn’t like the idea of being left behind.
Even when you don’t want to go where whoever is leaving is headed.
And in that moment there were no more words.
It was just me and Dilley and a beautiful September afternoon.
And I saw the day for what it was-
One where the rain had come and gone, but for now, the sun had chased all the clouds away.
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