Today marks one year since Molly died. It was the worst, most heart-breaking, day. It destroyed me for a good long time, and still brings a lump to my throat when I think about it.
And yet… in a strange twist of cosmic coincidence, this is also the week that the shelter tells us that Judy was born.
The day after Molly died, when we were able to finally crawl out of bed and face the first day in ten years without our pup, my husband and I went for a hike in the woods. We didn’t say much, but we did talk about getting another dog. Could we do it? Could we love anyone as much as we loved Molly? I said that if we ever got another puppy, I’d want to get one who was born on October 16 because there might be a small chance that the bundle of sweet energy that was my Molly would be in this fresh, new pup.
And a few months later, when the ache in my heart from missing Molly had started to heal and I couldn’t bear to be without a four-legged companion, I found this photo online:
The day we picked her up from the transport, we were handed paperwork that said “Jinx (her original name), 10 weeks”. That meant that she was a week younger than we had been told. That meant that she was born the week that Molly died.
I thought that loving a new dog would be hard. I thought I’d never forget Molly and the soft fur behind her ears and the sound of her bark. The bittersweet thing is that I do love Judy like I loved Molly, and now Judy’s furry ears are where I rest my face, and for the life of me I can’t remember what Molly’s bark sounded like.
We tell Judy about her “big sister”. We marvel at how similar she is to Molly and how their sweet, people-loving personalities are so much alike. Molly would have hated Judy. At one year this week, she’s still a full-on puppy with the Energizer batteries and a tendency to bite cheeks and back legs.
She’s sweet and silly and snuggly and a giant pain in the ass a good part of the time. She broke me down last winter, but she also props me up most of the time. We’re going to Dog School now. “Family Dog 1” is the official title, but I like “Dog School” better. She’s the star of the show. She prances and shows off and gets buckets of praise while we’re at class, then drags me by her leash out the door and chews up a sock when we get home. Molly never chewed on anything. Molly and I didn’t go to Dog School, she was easy to train. Judy is a constant test of patience. She sheds like a maniac.
This summer I attempted to landscape the spot under the pine tree where Molly is buried. My husband built a stone bench and I made a footpath. My nephews made heartbreakingly sweet stepping stones. I pulled weeds and planned flowers to plant. I tried and failed to find just the right marker for her grave. And all the while, Judy, for some reason, gravitated to the spot. She still likes to lay there. It makes my chest hurt.
I will always miss Molly. She was MY Molly, the original pup, the heavy paw print on my heart. I can’t believe a year has passed since she died. I can’t believe I survived a year. I didn’t think I could. I think it had something to do with this one.
Since we’ll never know which day this week is her actual birthday, I’ve decided that it’s today. Happy one year, sweet Judy. Thank you for bounding into my life and helping me to forget the pain of losing your big sister. You drive me bananas but your giant ears make it all worth while.