Trader Joes

Grief doesn’t play out in stages; that’s a neuroscientific myth. For some of us, grief comes and goes as seamlessly random as the Seattle rain in February.

Pushing what was now my full cart down the lonely bodily hygiene and animal food aisle, I looked to my right and saw the bag of dog treats that had so often been the meeting point of Lucy’s whiskers and my hand.

I stopped for a moment and just stood there looking over at those treats and the picture on the front of the Portuguese Water Dog. I recalled Lucy’s thick black fur and youthful energy, her realist sensibility and sassy resilience, her unconditional wagging of the tail regardless of how late I came home at night.

I remembered the habitual twinkling of her collar tags as she would follow the sound of my guitar to find me playing alone in the living room. And I remember staying by her side after she came home from surgery and nursing her with those same treats.

Then, with that old familiar ache, I remembered with piercing accuracy how it felt to see her bed without her in it. You can carry a wound for a child, a parent, a dear friend, and yes, for a dog; and you can cry, it turns out, even in that dormant aisle of Trader Joes.

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