Saturday, August 21, 2010

Name Tags

The other day I noticed myself doing something odd. Before putting away a fresh box of Muzzy's heart worm preventative, I found myself writing her name on the box with a green Sharpie. Next, I looked at the calendar and saw that the reminder sticker also was marked "M," as opposed to "R" for Roma. As you know, Roma shuffled off this mortal coil, leaving Muzzy an "only dog" and me an only-dog owner, eight months ago, but there are reminders of her everywhere. Her name is still on her food bucket. Her meds haven't expired and still sit in the cupboard. Her leash still hangs by the door. I feel weird about using it to walk the Muzz. Because it's not a spare; it's Roma's.

While I was on vacation in Maine, Roma appeared in a dream. She just walked through a door, and I leaned over and thumped her gently on her rib cage, feeling a surge of joy. "You came back!" was my first thought. The next was, "Oh, wait . . ."  The dream continued, but that moment with Roma is the only part I remember. Frankie's Diane says that next time Roma appears in my dreams, I need to tell her that it's okay to move on, so that she can "move on and come back for real." Roma never needed me to tell her anything important. I think she'll figure out how and when—and if—she wants to return to a plane of existence that is home to so many idiots. Since then, though, I've been thinking that I see her around the house. The big yellow bag of dog food in the kitchen corner has been making me do a double-take every time I walk by it.  So has that nightgown hanging on the bedroom doorknob. I know that Roma is not coming back, certainly not in the same form in which she left. At the same time, though, I'll continue to write Muzzy's name on Muzzy's stuff—because I am pretty sure that we won't be on our own forever. Someone else is bound to come along. And when he or she does, I have a red Sharpie for writing a new name on stuff.

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