My mom brought our dog, Lola, home six months after my dad died. Our family was devastated and my mother, always the caregiver, was trying to comfort my brother who had withdrawn a lot and had long been asking for a dog. As a confirmed cat person, I was resistant. Also 8 week old puppies are kind of nightmares.
Lola took her time learning to poop outside, she made it clear she preferred the living room carpet. She tried to “playfully” maul every person who entered our house and chewed as many of our belongings as she could get her paws on. She crowded our personal space during supper time, drooling on your leg until you gave up the last few bites. But above all of her mischief, she brought an incredible amount of love and joy to our family at a time we needed it most. And she kept doing it for 11 years.
We said goodbye to Lola last week after a short but aggressive illness. Her head rested in my lap while my siblings and I sat around her on the floor of the vet’s office. It was time, she was hurting.
Sometimes life is unnecessarily cruel. Losing our dog five months after my mom died feels very much like The Universe sending my siblings and I a big “Fuck You” just to remind us that we are not in control.
But as I try to cope, I think about what my mother might say if she was here. She would shake her head and say “oh Megan.” Then she would remind me that I am made up of my experiences, both good and bad. She would say that the low points in my life, though sometimes harsh and unfair, have shaped me into a stronger version of myself. She would remind me that people who manage to move through life with relative ease miss out on understanding the full depth of the human experience.
Most of all, in challenging times, my mother would tell me that things will get better. She never had any evidence to back that claim up, but she said it with such confidence that I couldn’t help but believe her. But even though she isn’t here to tell me everything will be okay eventually, I can still close my eyes and hear her voice saying it with such conviction that I know it must be true.