I imagine I am like many people right now, living in my covid bubble looking out through distorted social media lenses to the outside world. It is a struggle. I often joke that I never knew I could be such a nag. And yet, I am also trying to enjoy the little moments too. Sometimes, I have to take them in long after everyone is in bed and I reflect on little things one of the kids said or did, and not the frustrations but the love. Watching these little humans mirror my own world, watch as I give them lenses in which to see the world and it feels so easy to give them toil and heartache and death, and too easy to forget about laughter and light and the first winter rains.
My dog, Chico, is mostly deaf now. He has to smell me and see me or he gets so worried. I find him often staring out windows and I will call to him, but he can’t hear me and so I touch him and startle him and he labors to rise up with his old knees and hips but rushes to my side to rub up against me in joy. And kids and partner, it is so easy to take for granted their excitement to have me in their lives, the way they too jump to their feet to run and tackle you after you took the one quick trip out into the world, masked up, hand sanitizer waiting, out to safely stock up on supplies only to get home, shut the door, and huddle together with your finds and treasures, mostly leeks and avocados with some half and half. OK, I always sneak a treat or two. I watch Amanda rise many times in the night to feed the baby, to give Marebel a comfort of which I can never match, sustenance, life, the return of a long lost limb amputated away, united again. These four girls that light up with smiles and kisses is more than I deserve really and too often I forget to realize that.
I walk Chico out into the night. The Geminids are out right now and supposed to be giving quite a showing, but there is a heavy mist in the air and I look up as we walk and imagine the debris flashing through the muffled night sky, the debris of an asteroid; most meteors are grains of sand shed from the parent asteroid when it goes too close the sun, cracking and splintering in the heat, as small dust and sand separates and forms the asteroid tail, these left behind remnants of rock burn up in our atmosphere 50 miles above us. We call them shooting starts.
I tell Chico, Good boy as he follows along with me, though he can’t hear it. Habit. Bluebird, our young lab, runs far ahead, oblivious to all. Sometimes I yell Good Boy to Chico hoping he can hear me, he never does. I often wonder if he understands why everyone seems to have stopped talking to him, why the world became muffled and quiet. When we had our third girl, Amanda got me a shirt that says Dad of Girls, I noted, DOG, Dad of girls. I am a dog, and way too often I don’t hear them saying Good boy to me. I take all this love for granted. But at night, when everyone is asleep, I walk into each room to make sure everyone has blankets, I pull out Blue’s bed for him, and I encourage Chico over to his bed next to me. I often realize I don’t deserve such life and love. I try to remember to be grateful for all that I have right now. It is too easy to forget.
Chico falls into bed, doesn’t even circle, just collapses, and starts to snore. He sleeps right next to me, and when I hear his breath laboring, I put my hand on him and he calms down. I still lean over to him, and whisper Good Boy, good boy. Maybe I am saying it for myself really. Maybe I am wishing I could love so unconditionally and fully the people of my pack. I tell myself, I will…I will.