My plan was to kick off 2020 with a post about all the new plants coming out this year. Then just like that, life changed and in an instant it became more important to devote a post to my dog, Stella. She spent 12 years shadowing me, content to sit beside me as I toiled away in the garden. She died Dec. 21 and my heart is heavy.
I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for 18 years, writing for magazines and newspapers in the moments between mothering and sleep. It gets lonely, writing. And when the kids go to school and the house grows quiet, even more so. I’m not the kind to join a mom’s group or spend hours on the phone. It’s not my style. But I am the type to confer with my dog on most things during the course of the day. I’d much rather spend it in the garden with her. My life must sound very solitary. It is in some ways. But in those moments of solitude, I always had my friend. Her constant presence was a great comfort.
I used to play a little game with her. Well actually, it didn’t become a game until I realized what she was doing. In typical fashion, she’d follow behind me, watching and mimicking me, especially when I sniffed a flower. She’d sniff it too. Deliberately, I would smell flowers that had no scent just to see what she’d do. Sure enough, she’d give it a whiff and then look to me to guide her to the next one.
When winter’s chill loosens its grip, I’ll reach for my garden jeans. The pair with all the stains. She knew them the moment I slipped them over my hips and she celebrated with a quick spin and her expectant doe-eyed gaze that always seemed to ask “What shall we do?”
Well my dear girl, we’ll garden, things will grow and I’ll remember my sweet friend. It won’t be the same, nothing ever is when someone you love dies; but life was made sweeter by the steadfast devotion of Stella. And for that I’m grateful.