Saturday, December 3, 2011

What a Difference A Year Makes

The holidays are upon us, which means it’s also the season of family; the season of homecomings and reunions.

Just a month ago, eight of Spray’s ten puppies came to Cambridge for a family reunion, which Jan Devereux covered in her blog Cambridge Canine, which was then picked up by The Cambridge Chronicle. I couldn’t agree more with Jan’s adept observations about how the dog reunion reminded her of human familial reunions.

This reunion, the second we’ve had however, was multi-layered for me. Not only were the dogs having their own get-together, I was seeing the dogs, their families and my own daughter Maggie, home from college for the weekend to see Ellie’s play and the puppies.

On Sunday morning before returning Maggie to college, we took Spray, Ezzie and even grumpy old Splash to the dog park at Danehy to wait for the pups to arrive.

“There’s Zazu.” I pointed as he proudly walked up with his owner.

“Oh my God, it’s Charlie,” said Maggie as he bounded up through the parking lot accompanied by his two owners.

And so it went as we spotted each dog before they entered the gated park. We watched them to see how they moved, to see how they’d grown. The difference from a year ago was noticeable.

Not only had they matured physically, the dogs were solidly part of their families now. There was no question as to whom they belonged. I don’t know which was more fun – watching the dogs cavorting around with each other or watching the owners laughing and smiling at their dogs’ antics and hearing them compare notes about their dogs.

The dogs weren’t the only ones to change in a year. I’d changed too. I didn’t feel as possessive of the dogs or of Maggie. A year earlier, I still missed the puppies and all the busyness they had created in our lives and I was bereft at Maggie’s departure and fumbled around with how to spend my time.

While I still miss Maggie and the pups, I often miss what we had – ten little puppies as opposed to ten full grown dogs. I really wouldn’t want ten dogs running around my house. Three is bad enough. I miss the old family construct we had – the four of us going to Saturday soccer games, planning our lives around the girls’ schedules. When Maggie’s home, she often makes her own plans with her friends or her boyfriend.

Even though the puppies started their lives with us and Spray, they belong to their families. And as much as I enjoy Maggie’s visits home when we watch silly TV shows and eat bad food, her life is bursting forth with her boyfriend and at school with her friends, professors, classes and field hockey.

I was sad saying good-bye when the puppies started to leave the gigantic play date. I wanted to linger a little longer with each one, hear one more story about them, hug them one more time, but I was also relieved that the energy level was coming down a notch at a time. I was tired.

When I say good-bye to Maggie after her visits, I’m sad too. The house is quieter, the energy is definitely subdued, and I wander around for a bit not knowing what to do with my time. But I quickly fill up that empty pit in my stomach with laundry or papers that need to be corrected or I work on a quilt project.

I shake my head like Ezzie and I move forward, something I wasn’t able to do so well a year ago.