Belle is 18 now. Newly eighteen. When she was 6, her father and I separated. After twenty four years, our family was irrevocably broken. I didn’t pray with much faith back then. However, Belle was inconsolable most of the time and I needed a miracle, so I asked for a Shih tzu.
Often when adults play out a drama in their lives, we forget how hard it is on our littles. My older children were relieved, if not outright happy, that I had finally decided that we had had enough. The four older kids were all in their teens and twenties and they just wanted the madness to stop.
Not sweet Bellicious. She just wanted her daddy to come home. She didn’t understand and how do you explain that? Without saying, telling, dredging up all the things that will hurt her even more?
I was trying to balance my pain and her hurt. My anger. The older kids anger and hurt.
My guilt. I had made him leave, after all.
I was trying to balance careful words against rooted bitterness. Sometimes words failed and we just cried together. Our lives has crumbled apart and while the rest of us were trying to find our footing, it seemed our baby couldn’t find purchase at all.
So I prayed for a Shih tzu.
Mother came for the I weekend and I told her I thought a puppy was in order. Something Belly could mother. Something to cuddle with at night, when she missed her daddy the most. Something she was responsible for and something to demand her time. Something to occupy her heart as it was so terribly broken.
When I was young, we had the sweetest little dogs. Over the years, three in all. A lap dog, in the truest sense. That’s what they were bred for. Chinese royalty chose this sweeping mop of a dog to be their most loyal companion. And that’s what I wanted for Belle. A baby for the baby.
I didn’t have to search very long, God was already on it. A microwave prayer this time! It was cooking up quickly.
I was friends with a girl on Facebook that was a dog groomer. I really didn’t even know her that well, a friend of a friend I had met a couple of times. She put a post on her page about a little black and white puppy that needed a new home. She posted a picture with a description. A Shit tzu. Two years old and potty trained. She had the cutest little face. I grabbed my phone and sent a message and held my breath while I waited for her response. I let out a big ‘ol whoop when I got her answer.
And that’s how we got Molly. We made arrangements to meet her family in the parking lot of the convenience store to pick her up. She had been newly groomed and she was wearing a pink collar and leash. There were children with her. A boy and a girl. The girl, older, never got out of the car. The boy, probably about four, was crying and asking his mom to please not give his dog away. It was awful.
A mournful little boy watching a smiling little girl.
Sacrifice and blessing.
That little black and white puff of hair changed our whole outlook. She was a bit ornery and loved nothing more than to just lay on Belle’s lap. She slept with Belle. She ate what Belle ate. When Belle took her bath a night, Molly laid on the pink rug next to the tub. They watched Fancy Nancy and Old Yeller and ate popcorn. Belle pushed her in the stroller and on the swing set in the back yard. Molly rode with us to take Belle to school and to pick her up. They shared Happy Meals and blue ice cream from the drug store. They became best friends and it soothed Belle’s soul. Molly became a part of our family.
That was twelve years ago. Molly has been in Belle’s lap for all the heartbreaks over the years. Boys who broke her heart, girls who broke her spirit, the horror of losing a best friend in a house fire…. Molly was there to soak up the tears for it all. She has been our constant in all the changes for all these years.
Molly started getting sick about a year ago. She developed a mass. Because of her advanced age, we decided to let nature take its course. We had no idea she would hang on as long as she did. God was giving me time to adjust. She’s become more my dog in the last couple of years. The older kids have moved out and on. Belle, wrapped up in being a teenager, doesn’t spend time with her like she used to. So Molly attached herself to me. She still demands to be cuddled and hugged and loved. She’s been good company for me. If you know me at all, you know how I feel about all of my dogs, but Molly holds a place very dear. God sent her when he knew she would heal.
I left Molly in the living room on the recliner asleep when I went to bed last night. I’ve been out of town and I couldn’t believe how much worse she had gotten in the four days I’d been gone. I got home and called the vet. I made the appointment to put her out of the misery she was obviously in. I gave her a bath, fed her a hot dog and laid her in my lap while Mother and I watched Hamilton. When it was over and time for bed, she was comfortable and calm so I went to bed and left her to sleep.
We have a couple of oddball dogs that we call ‘special’. They are peculiar in so many ways. One of them is a bluetick coonhound mix named Tallulah. She put the weird in weirdo. We baby these two clowns to the point of therapy. Everything freaks them out so we deal with them a lot. Tallulah woke me up at 2:30 this morning. She is perfectly capable of jumping up on the bed but she was standing up at my side, scratching at me. I scolded her and told her to get up on the bed and knock it off. She wouldn’t. She continued to have a breakdown for a few minutes while I woke the rest of the way up. Coming out of my fog, I realized she was pretty agitated. I flipped the light on and swung my legs over the side of the bed. She pawed at me again and I got up and followed. She led me into the living room, periodically turning to see if I was still coming. She stopped when she got to Molly, who was no longer asleep. I could tell she was having a difficult time, so I took her to the enclosed porch, which is her favorite place in the house. We sat down and watched the lights reflecting on the lake. I’m not sure who was comforting who.
Molly left us this morning. She was here during some of the most difficult times in our lives. She has left a big hole. I prayed for her without an understanding of how important to us she would become. But God knew. He knew what we needed even when we didn’t. Isn’t that the way it always is? I believe all dogs go to Heaven. She’s up there with Scout this morning,, filling him in on what the kids and I have been up to. She was a blessing. Our home won’t ever be the same.
RIP Molly Grace Soden, you were a good dog.