You’ll approach me lanky-limbed and jaded, already wishing time would slow or stop, and I’ll suggest we pore over photos from when you were a baby. I’ll hand you my phone, and as you scroll through the years, you’ll pause over a series of images centered around a bear-faced mut. You’ll ask if Nana had a dog or maybe Uncle Pat, and I’ll shake my head, waiting for you to notice how for four straight months my phone was trained on that brown-eyed beast. You’ll be in there too, of course, with your bald head and spongey cheeks, gripping the dog’s floppy ears, poking its nose, snagging tufts of fur. I’ll wait for you to linger over the one where your dad pulled a sequined Santa hat over the dog’s head and we posed for a Christmas card. I’ll wait for you to squeeze my wrist and say, “we had a dog?”
And here’s where I could tell you about the hormones and the episodes and the times I couldn’t get you to latch at night, or at all. I could tell you about the insomnia and the afternoon I dozed behind the wheel. We were fine, really. A couple scrapes, a few dents. Your dad said it was a miracle we were fine, but you know how dramatic he can be. I could tell you about the evening you tumbled down a half flight of stairs when I was too exhausted to stop you, how you rolled off the couch while I reached for a second glass of wine. I could tell you about the night you spent at Uncle Pat’s while your father drove me to the hospital. How for two long weeks I stayed in a sparse room on the sixth floor. How when I returned, the dog was gone.
In the end, I’m sure I’ll tell you the dog nipped your hand, and we had to let her go, but maybe someday I’ll have the nerve to say, it’s a miracle we’re both alive.