It’s been about a week since Sugar’s visit. We remain under a shelter-in-place order which gives us ample time to observe the comings and goings of the neighbors. Sadly, our favorite neighbor has yet to return to her rightful place in the backyard across the street barking at birds and digging in the mud.
When Sugar came to visit, we thought it was a part of a short-lived tour de freedom instead of what now appears to have been the kick off to a much longer and possibly permanent trip away from the backyard.
We still take walks through the neighborhood, while cautiously respecting the social distancing imperative, and peek into her fenced area. I am hopeful that we somehow missed her homecoming and will find her there one day, smiling and barking and as dirty, as ever.
Little Legs also looks for her. He strains his neck trying to see her through the fence and raises his hands in question when only untrampled grass meets his gaze.
This is the only loss that he has felt during quarantine. He doesn’t miss playdates or enriching field trips to museums or hands-on discovery centers, he doesn’t care that all of our meals are eaten at home or that he hasn’t seen his grandparents this Spring. He just knows that his friend, Sugar, is missing.
As a new parent, I didn’t anticipate the need to deal with issues of loss or grief this early on in our journey. However, we take the challenges as they come, fast and unexpected. It’s a lot of improvising and fly-by-the-seat of one’s pants work to meet the needs of our curious and sweet little boy.
So, the last time he threw his hands up in question about Sugar, I gave the best explanation I could.
“Sugar is on vacation for a while, probably at the beach, and we don’t know when she’ll be back.”
He accepted this without question and toddled down the road, picking up rocks and worms, happy to know the truth, at last.