This has been the summer of many small deaths for me, some literal, some not. It has been one of many tears, of worry, of several hours of bad television. I have found a bit of comfort in feeling like my children will grow to be deeper, more sensitive souls than pretty much the entire cast of Bachelor in Paradise (with the exception, perhaps, of Jared).
This morning, on our drive to school, the conversation Quinn and I had turned into a children’s book before I made it home. I imagined coming home, spreading out papers and watercolors on the dining room table and completing it by the end of summer, but then felt immediately sad. I have written and illustrated like that before. I have written really, really good stories for kids (though the illustrations now make me cringe and I want a do-over), so I thought that instead of the long process of creating and rejection, I would just share our story here and hope to illustrate it over time, on rainy days and late nights. Happy, sweet reading.
My dog died. I told my teacher that Greta got old, got a lump, and then she died. After she died, my mom and I told a lot of stories about Greta, like the time she caught the baby bunnies and we had to take the whole nest of them to the animal hospital. I heard my Mom say that she hoped heaven was full of slow rabbits.
I asked her what dogs look like when they became angels. My mom said that death is a little bit of a mystery and that when it comes to angels there is not one right answer. “Could we use a telescope to look in my heart to see her?” I asked. My mom said that was a good idea, but that we could not do that. “Could we get an X-ray?” Surely that would work.
“No,” said my mom. “The thing about angels is that feeling them is more important than seeing them. The best part about Greta dying is that now she can be with you all the time.” She asked me if I could feel Greta in my heart.
I stayed still for a minute and tried to feel her. “I can feel her angel wings flapping in my heart and it makes me feel like there is a little wrinkle in my heart,” I said.
My mom said that her heart has been wrinkled lots of time and that the nice thing about wrinkles is that they remind you of how strong your heart is and of how much you have loved. I told my mom that the wrinkles must look like dust.
“We won’t ever know,” she said, “but it’s a lovely idea.”
I told my mom that I didn’t want Greta to be the only dog angel in my heart, so I imagined another angel dog and I imagined sharing that angel with Greta. Now there are two dogs in my heart, but only one wrinkle.
Somedays I miss petting Greta’s soft ears or curling up next to her under my favorite blue blanket. You cannot cuddle dust. You cannot play fetch with angels.
Still, sometimes when I am falling asleep at night, I can feel her with me, almost like she is watching over me and wagging her tail. When I close my eyes I imagine that my heart looks like a million bright white shiny stars on a dark night and that Greta is the moon.
If you see me glowing, you will know why. Love made me that way.