Take care of my dog,” Barb had said as the cancer ate away at her insides. And Zoe, our Havanese lapdog, was now my dog, my constant companion. Zoe and I had come to Barb’s favorite restaurant to plan for the “story telling” here later. Barb didn’t want a celebration of life, but we were going to spread her ashes nearby and we needed “tell stories.” Zoe explored near my chair on the patio.
The table I chose was off to the side. Zoe and I were the only ones there. My food came, and the chef came to my table while we made the arrangements. I was still eating when a couple came to a nearby table. A friend had warned me, “It will be hard to see couples enjoying themselves.” “It’s really nice out here,” she said to him as they sat down. Funny how you can hear everything when you don’t have someone to talk to. My face tightened as I tried to hold back the tears. Funny too, how such an everyday conversation can grab you. I had this urge to run. But I had a meal to finish.
Finally, back in the privacy of my car, I relaxed a little. Zoe hopped over to the passenger seat—Barb’s seat. Only no warm lap to nestle into now.
Over the weeks since her death, sneaker waves had come from nowhere to pull me into the cold ocean of grief. Now, a gentler sneaker wave warmed my face. It pulled it into a slight smile, then into a chuckle. “I’m gonna write a book,” I told Zoe. “I’ll call it: When ‘we’ went out to eat means ‘me and my dawg’.”