Do I resent the dog? I was signing a birthday card for my Dad today and there he was, the little git, his name third on the list of well-wishers after me and my daughter. I’d even drawn a cute little paw-print on his behalf in place of a kiss.
Thing is, the pooch wouldn’t even be part of the family, let alone sending paw-prints to my Dad, if M hadn’t died. He was a comfort purchase, a distraction. Something I’d always aspired to own, one day, once my desire to circumnavigate the globe and earn a million had been sated. Besides, M always vetoed such an acquisition. Ever the pragmatist, He worried it would end up like the dog pictured. Don’t worry – the hound is definitely part of the family now. Head on the pillow. Raincoat. Whiskey nightcap. Much like the dog pictured, actually.
In the very early days, I found it hard to write cards without M’s name. I tentatively included Him on birthday cards, as if writing His name would magically mean our little family was still intact. Those in receipt of the cards must have thought I was delusional. But to not include Him was yet further evidence – if any were needed – that a) He was dead and b) I was now a single parent. My daughter and I, two lone female warriors in the cut-and-thrust world of greetings card etiquette.
When did I stop including Him? A few months after I got the dog, I think. The triumvirate that was M, me and our daughter became Me, my daughter and the dog. Not that the dog has replaced M, but somehow he makes me feel less alone. Despite his relentless bloody chewing and his exuberance to get up at the first sign of dawn, I like having him around.
It seems the rule of three exerts itself in grief, too.