It’s time for a story. A rather long story, but one that needs to be long to be understood. So get comfortable, pour a cup of coffee, tell your kids that you need some “alone time” in the bathroom and thank you for reading.
I believe in signs. I hesitate to say this, because I don’t want you to think that I am someone who sees signs in everything, because I don’t. I’m not one to turn a mere coincidence into a sign. You won’t find me thinking my mom sent a flock of birds flying overhead simply because a flock of birds were heading south at the same time I was thinking of her. Life happens all around us while we are sad or confused or looking for answers and sometimes, it’s just that…life happening.
But then again, sometimes, it isn’t.
My darling little dog of 14 years, Cosette, died about a month ago. I knew it would be difficult; I was unprepared for how difficult. I have had pets die before and after a short amount of time, I no longer cried over their passing, although I still miss them. My brother has a saying for this. He equates events that you mourn for a couple days and then move on from to be “like a dog’s death.” You are sad and overcome with grief for awhile, but for the most part, life doesn’t change. You move on. You put it in perspective. You miss them, but it doesn’t alter your world.
When I kissed that little brown face goodbye, it altered my world. But then, she wasn’t “just a dog” to me.
So the past month has found my heart doing what most hearts do when that thing they loved so fiercely is no longer around to be loved, namely, aching. The Fam has sensed this, ‘cause the Fam misses her, too. When a heart is filled with tiny dog love for 14 years and then that tiny dog is gone, you don’t just turn off a valve and it stops. There is no “off switch.” The love keeps flowing even when there’s no recipient. It’s like a toilet that won’t stop running and eventually the water spills over the bowl and onto the floor and floods the bathroom. And really, I think the Fam has been a bit worried about me. See, when my tiny dog was around, I spoke for her. Not just spoke for her in the sense that I made decisions on her behalf, but actually SPOKE for her. It’s true—I channeled my dog. I hesitate to tell you this, ‘cause let’s face it, this is the kind of stuff that gets people admitted into psych wards.
“What are the voices telling you now, Missy?”
“No, no…they aren’t voices; it’s my dog. I know what she’s thinking. I’m just saying it out loud.”
“Yeah, okay. Sure. Bob, let’s take Missy to the padded room.”
But I don’t care. For 14 years I did this. My kids loved it because they could “talk” to the dog and she’d “talk” back. She sounded a bit like Marcel the Shell, except she was feisty and loud and would swear using words that sounded like swear words, but really weren’t. And just when you think this story couldn’t get weirder, sometimes my tiny dog would channel another tiny dog named Scout. Where this came from, I have no idea. I suspect from that part of my brain where even I am scared to look too closely. I could go into detail, but suffice it to say, “Scout” was my tiny dog’s alter ego. Again, if I go into detail, they could put me away for a long time. And people, I would not do well in a straight jacket. They don’t come in pretty colors and worse, there would be no way to get the vodka to my mouth.
So knowing ALL this, the Fam suggested that I pour all the tiny dog love still flowing from that place in my heart that loves tiny dogs into another tiny dog. And name her “Scout.”
I originally dismissed the idea, but lately, I have come to embrace it, but with reservations. I’ve heard of people getting a new dog only to find the new dog is kind of a jerk. What if I get a jerk dog? And then I’m stuck with that jerk dog for the rest of its life. (My daughter eased my mind by reminding me we HAD a jerk dog who didn’t like men, didn’t like other dogs, was bossy and wouldn’t stop until she got her way. And we adored her.) I slowly began to warm to the idea. The phrase “Scout is out there” became a comfort. The joke became that Cosette would send this little dog to me to love. But where? And how would I know?
(Are you still with me at this point? I have to give you props, ‘cause this is a long story and you are STILL here reading it. I probably would have been long gone by now, so thank you. I promise I’m getting to the point.)
I left my cabin yesterday, where my tiny dog is buried. I decorated her little grave with candy canes, placed my hand on the soft soil, and wished her a “Merry Christmas.” I told her she was now able to run free without pain, or fear or hunger. And that I loved her. Yes, more than a few tears fell on that soil. Even the DH got misty-eyed.
And then, on the way home, a thing happened: the opportunity to love a tiny Yorkie made its way into my world. Still reluctant, I spoke to the owner who sent me pictures. I fell in love with that little face, but STILL, I was hesitant. Was THIS Scout? I wasn’t sure. And what’s more, I felt there was no way I could be sure. How would I ever be certain that THIS was Scout? I wouldn’t be, and for that reason alone, I couldn’t do it.
The day progressed. The DH and I went to dinner and then to do some Christmas shopping. He dropped me off at a store while he ran some errands. As I was waiting to make my purchases, I received a text from my daughter. A dear friend had just given her an early Christmas present in the form of a bracelet that read “Cosette” on the outside and the words, “No longer by my side, but forever in my heart” engraved on the inside. She sent me the picture.
I lost it in the store.
“Yes, thank you, fellow shoppers. I’m okay. No, I’m not crying. I just have something in my eye. Both eyes, actually.”
Items purchased, I made my way out to the parking lot. I scanned the myriad of cars to find the DH’s truck towards the left side of the lot, lights on, waiting for me. I began walking over, thoughts of my precious little dog filling my head, mingling with confusion over a puppy that could or could not be Scout. The DH was parked behind another car, the back of which was towards me as I walked. As I approached that car, I stopped dead in my tracks. It was one of those moments where the sky could have split open and Jesus Himself could have handed me a cocktail and I still wouldn’t have noticed.
Because there, written on the back of a random car parked in front of our car on the same day at the same time, positioned in a place that required I walk by it to get to my car, the same ME who has been worried and anxious over whether this puppy I’m considering IS truly THE Scout and who had been praying for a sign, was this…
WHAT THE WHAT?
Not just a sign, but a message to me from Cosette, with some help from God.
So yes, my friends, I just found Scout. No doubt in my mind. And I have my little dog to thank for it.
Merry Christmas, my darling Cosette.
<in Cosette’s voice:> “Yeah, and Ho Ho Ho to you. I was hoping you’d find that. Now get in the car. Cheeze It, Rice; it’s cold out there!