Sorting through my linen closet the other day, I found an old plaid sheet that once covered the end of my bed where Rudy used to sleep at night and hang out during the day.
He had a habit of scraping a particular spot on the sheet with one paw before lying down, every day. Eventually he shredded a large hole in the sheet, which is why it was packed away in the back of the linen closet. As for why it was never discarded, well … let’s just say some of us are sentimental.
I got the sheet out and took a look at the hole, which could not feasibly be sewn back together because the center of it was entirely frayed away. It required a patch, something I have no experience or skill in making so I was not eager to try. It took a bit of sensible self-coaching to understand that I was attempting to repair a rag with a rag (an old t-shirt cut apart) and there was no way I could possibly make it any worse or “ruin it.” I have all the necessary tools and enough skill to sew a (mostly) straight line. The worst it could do was suck and I would throw the sheet away.
I admit that my repair was hardly professional looking, but it was solid and it got the job done. The sheet is usable again.
When I finished, Reggie came in to say hi and curled up on the floor in the late-winter sun. I quietly covered her with the sheet and snapped a pic. Looking at the image I’d made, I could not actually tell if it was Reggie or Rudy under there, given the way the light caught on her fur. It made me cry.
I was powerfully reminded of another image I made of Rudy in the very same spot at nearly the same time of year.
I reflected on how similar my two Schnauzers are, and yet how different. How much joy they have brought me, each in his or her own way. I am grateful to have had Rudy in my life, and every day more grateful for Reggie as well. Wrapping her in Rudy’s sheet felt like pulling him back to us, just for a moment. It helped shrink, a tiny bit, the gaping hole in our lives he left when he died.
Grief, like growth, is a spiral and not a straight line. We advance and retreat in our recovery, circling back to the pain as many times as it takes to feel it enough to let it go. I am still circling with Rudy, still wrestling with my regrets and trying to make peace with the choices I made with him and for him. I work every day to ensure I will not have those same regrets when Reggie passes.
Fortunately for both of us, she and I are in an exceptionally sweet spot in our lives together right now. We are well synchronized, and our days together are peaceful.
She has her own blanket on my bed now, a lovely green plush throw, but she prefers to cuddle up on my pillow.