It’s 2:30 in the morning and for an hour I try to figure out why I’m awake on New Year’s Eve. It’s possible that I will still be up 22 hours from now, but I have no plans. I try to remember what I did last New Year’s Eve. Oh. Tom. Tom lasted 21 more days. In with a new president, out with Tom. We remained friends for a few more months but we no longer speak because the JUDGE told him never to contact me. Good judge.
New Year’s Eve before that was the best ever. Joe and I bundled together in the bunk of his boat and we got drunk on episodes of “Lost”. We napped then re-wrapped ourselves on the back deck where Baltimore fireworks burst over our heads at midnight.
Now it’s 3:30am and there’s no hope of going back to sleep before the 4:25 alarm. Lilly knows this so she does a full frontal belly flop on my chest.
Dogs know everything.
She’s clean and soft from her bath the night before and I dig my fingers into the folds of her neck and she nuzzles her face under mine. Her sister snores from their beds below.
Three months after that “Lost” New Year’s Eve, Joe and I split. Truth was, he’d checked out months, maybe years before that. He cheated. And he lied. And I looked away.
But just three weeks after that “Lost” New Year’s Eve, Lillian and Delilah arrived. “That’s just what happened,” I say when people ask how I wound up with two.
Joe never wanted any real ties and dogs definitely keep you planted. One day that March he came to my house and got his stuff and left.
I remember collapsing on the puppies, sobbing. For months afterward, through the raising and the training I had a small pit in my stomach. I thought one of the reasons he left was because I got them. They would be too consuming, too constraining. Maybe I’d driven him further away by filling my home with this athletic, elegant, but demanding family.
But I was wrong.
He didn’t leave because they came. God sent them because he was already gone.