Friday, March 19, 2010

Anticipating Good-Bye

My daughter is going away for a week’s vacation tomorrow. In addition to being delirious with excitement, she can’t bear the thought that she’ll be missing the last week all the puppies will be with us. Two are leaving the day after she returns.

“Take lots of pictures and videos for me,” she said.

Friends are calling as they realize the puppy show is almost over. They want one last visit. A family who fell in love with Zazu, but isn’t ready to take a dog into their life right now, wants to know when they can say good bye.

When I’m at school teaching, I’m thinking about the puppies and what they’re doing at home, wondering if someone is taking them outside to play – they love romping in the leaves and chewing on sticks, which as I discovered isn’t so great on their tiny digestive systems.

I’m panicked I haven’t done enough with them, haven’t taken enough photos or videos, haven’t spent enough time cuddling. At least we’re keeping one – Esmeralda.

When my husband asks our daughter for “face time” to watch movies – their favorite pastime, I sense the same panic in him. How many more movie nights do they have before she too is gone?

It shouldn’t come as any surprise that saying good-bye to the puppies brings up the next good-bye coming in our life – sending our oldest off to college. I’m worried I don’t have enough memories stored up.

Just like the puppies, I forget sometimes that she too has an adjustment ahead of her. I can’t bear the thought of the puppies’ first few nights in the new homes adjusting to lives on their own. I see them confused, unsure, crying for their littermates. Just like the puppies will have to adjust to life without each other, I worry about separating my two daughters.

I want to go with them, (and her) hold them in my arms and tell them everything will be okay, that they all have good, new homes with people who love them and want them very much.

But I can’t.

I know from the excited emails I’ve received from future owners, just how welcome these puppies are going to be in their new homes and how well adjusted they’ll become.

When I mention to friends how much I’m going to miss them, many say I’ll be less tired, and I’ll get over it fast. Our breeder and neighborhood friend who helped birth the puppies have assured me that my sadness will ebb when I’m no longer tripping over puppies or picking up poop.

It’s the anticipation of saying good-bye that’s killing me.

But as friends remind me, the anticipation is worse than the inevitability. An old high school friend who reappeared in my life this year via Facebook sent her oldest off and messages me frequently to say I’ll be okay. An email from a friend who had kids at home for 35 years – six of them - didn’t think she’d survive her last one leaving, and she’s fine, she writes.

Maybe I’ll be happy my house is less messy without the puppies and I have more time to devote to my work and sewing projects. Maybe I’ll find I have more time to devote to me next year when my daughter is gone, and her room is clean, but I know I’m going to miss all of them.

In the meantime I’ll play with the puppies for the time I have left with them. I’ll be around for my daughter when she comes home from hanging out with her friends.

The puppies and my daughter will adjust – I have faith they all have good homes waiting for them. And my husband, other daughter and I will adjust – I have faith in us too.

And, we’ll also have Esmeralda to keep us company.

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