There are so few physical reminders left.
I have his tags, that used to hang on a leather Texas A&M collar on his neck. Sometimes, I jingle them in my hand and it sounds like his sprinting and meandering and settling. It sounds like he is here. They sit in a windowsill in the kitchen where I can see them, but Claire can't. I like to look at them. They make me smile.
There are nose prints on the back window of my car, on the passenger side, where he used to ride. Stressy and uncomfortable with the entire concept of riding in an automobile, Jake was constantly in motion back there, constantly looking out the window and smushing his wet nose on it. I see the marks every so often, when I really pay attention to what's back there when I'm buckling Claire in. I'm not sure when we'll get around to washing them off. I kind of don't want to, even though it's kind of yucky. Smeary dog nose prints on the window and all.
His bowls and medications are still on a shelf above the washing machine, where I put them that day, tucked out of view behind a cabinet door.
We gave his bed to Goodwill. Chris threw away his collar (admittedly, it was kind of grody). The remainder of the big bag of dog food is long gone. I know that he would have loved this change in weather to something colder.
The other day we were coming home from a friend's house, a friend that has dogs. After months of not mentioning him at all, and not really noticing that he was gone in the first place, Claire said,
"Mommy, I want Jake. I want our doggie."
I was really surprised that she brought him up. I had to tell her, once again, but in more specific terms this time, that he's not here any more.
"Where he go, Mommy?"
"Well, Jake died. He's in heaven now."
"With his friends?"
"Yes, with his friends."
"He can bark there? And not get in trouble?"
"Yes, he can bark and run all he wants."
I have so far resisted reading Dog Heaven to her, that sweet Natalie sent us. In fact, the book is hidden in my desk drawer where Claire can't ask any questions about it and I don't have to look at it and be reminded. But, maybe we are ready to read it now, four months later.
Maybe. We'll see.
Sometimes I think I want another dog. Like, now, not in a couple of years or months but NOW. Maybe not a puppy, but probably an older, rescued dog. Someone fluffy and happy and ready to play or sit or just be with us after the kids go to bed. Someone to take on walks with us. Someone to throw things for in the yard. It doesn't make much sense on paper since we travel so much and a dog can't go in the airplane (hell, we have trouble fitting a STROLLER in the airplane) and we're pretty busy just keeping up with the two children and ourselves. I keep trying to shake the idea, to talk myself out of it. After all, long before Jake actually died we talked about how we would want to not have another pet for several years. It makes sense for us to wait.
But, man. I miss him.