a transition period for the humans
Maybe we should have chosen a name that had three syllables. Or choose a name that didn’t end with an “s.” Or select one that had different accent patterns. Or maybe all of the above! We now associate the little furry munchkin with the name “Lucas,” so it’s too late, but we are constantly correcting ourselves because we either want to say “Maris,” or we catch ourselves after the fact. Even eight weeks after Lucas came home with us.
I guess it’s difficult to erase 11 years of habit. My lips come together to form the “M” of “Maris” before I realize what it is that I am saying. In my moments of affection (“Oh, little Maris”), in times of frustration (“Maris!”), or in search of the dog (“Ma—-ris!” usually in major third, for you musicians out there), the hum of the letter “M” buzzes even before I realize what is happening. Once in a while, I will catch myself wanting to say her name, but I can’t quite think of “Lucas” in time, so I’ll just say “Puppy” or “Hey Hey!” Or sometimes, just stay silent and the dog gets away with whatever he is doing.
Maybe it’s not just my habit. Maybe it’s Maris herself… she is forever etched into our lives. As are traces of her in the house. I know that I did my best to clean out Maris’s things and put them into a bin a few months ago, but I had forgotten about a large wicker basket full of her toys under the piano. Of course, it took another dog to find dog toys. One day, I found Lucas running around the house with a giant centipede toy stuffed with squeakers. I panicked because I knew they were Maris’s… I guess I’m still not ready to be surprised by Maris’s memory. My initial reaction was to take it from him and put all of her toys away in the basement. But then he was so cute, this little puppy dragging a toy that was twice as long as he is, that I actually had to laugh. “Okay, Lucas. You can play with it. Grow into it.” The next day, he found Maris’s Nylabones, and her raccoon, and her Kong Wubbas. They are all too big for him, but he is enjoying his hand-me-downs.
I did not expect to find healing from this incident. I didn’t think I could see another one of Maris’s toys. But now they are strewn about the living room, and I find Lucas playing with them from time to time. He is probably enjoying her scent, and getting to know his older sister. It’s so strange to me now that just a few months ago, I thought I had to put away all of Maris’s stuff, enshrine it in the basement, and start new with Lucas. Life is not, and should not be that clean cut. Although I have pangs of sadness upon seeing Maris’s things, Lucas is breathing new life into them, and their lives are intersecting in ways that I had not anticipated. And it feels like my lips will form an “M” instead of an “L” for some time to come. My grand plan for starting fresh with a new puppy while shoving my sorrow of losing Maris into my past was utterly destroyed. And a good thing that is!