A few days ago we moved a table away from the wall to make room for the Christmas tree, and Winston’s yellow tennis ball, it rolled out from underneath into the center of the living room, along with nine years of memories. It’s been eleven months since we lost him but the tears, they still come easy.
I walked right into H’s arms and swayed there for a few quiet moments before continuing to hang hooked angels on the tree.
The ball sits in the same place where it rolled under the couch ever since. No one mentions it but I know none of us want to move it. Somehow it feels like messing with something sacred to put it in a closet or throw it away.
A few days later I thought I kept hearing his tags rattle on his collar. Looked in the rear view mirror of empty seats picturing the way he tilted his head solemn and resigned from his spot in the back.
When I mentioned this to Murielle, how I’m having a day of remembering him, she said she was thinking about him all day too.
“I’ve just been laying here thinking I can feel him next to me, almost feel his tail beating against the couch, waiting for me to turn around and pet his head like he used to,” she said into the pillows.
And that’s when I remembered.
When I finally gave in to getting another dog on her seventh birthday, I sensed Winston was going to help her get through the transition of our cross country move. I didn’t know how, just that he would.
I shared that with her for the first time while she was resting there on the couch, almost ten years after we said yes to the golden fur and dangling paws lying over the breeder’s arm.
She nodded her head, admitted that since having the near death car accident two weeks ago, she misses lying on the floor with him after school. Misses the way he offered himself stretched out unselfishly for her comfort until she was ready to get up and carry on with homework.
And I think perhaps, our sensing the dog’s presence that particular day was God’s way of letting us know how much He loves us. We can lay our head on His chest right there on the floor of pain, disappointment and lonely transition, knowing He’s got this one too.
I pushed my legs into yoga pants, tied the strings on my tennis shoes and walked under puffy clouds and red leaves still hanging on for life in the middle of December. Felt the warm air on my skin, acceptance breathing out my nose, and when I looked down among the scattered quilt of fallen fragments I saw it there, a stray yellow tennis ball lying on the edge of the road.
And I smiled and kept on walking.
I’m aware that alongside the joy of this season, the tinsel turns up the pain in remembrance too. If I can pray for you, let me know how in the comments, click on the Let’s Connect tab to send an email or message me on Facebook. Let’s pray for one another, shall we?