As we hiked at Lory State Park this morning, I kept noticing spots that had burnt in recent fires but were now coming back in, green and full of wildflowers. It made me think of how grief is like that, a fire that burns everything, strips it all bare and raw, but how that doesn’t have to be the end of the story. Given time, sunshine and rain, new seed, things grow, the landscape is restored. The destruction isn’t forgotten completely (notice the singed trees in this picture), but rather it forms the foundation for the new growth. It’s a harsh process, but on the other side, there is something like beautiful.
I can’t think about play without thinking of Dexter. He was the most cheerful, happy dog, always looking for an opportunity to have some fun. He is the only dog we’ve had that if we were going on a trip, we needed to make sure and pack toys, and he had favorites: his Little D, various other babies such as his kitty or his baby ram or Monkey, and any tennis ball, even better if he’d found it on a walk.
No matter how much he loved playing with other toys, Little D was always his favorite. It was a bit sad because Little D was the present we gave him for Christmas the month after Obi died, a sort of “sorry your brother is gone” gift. He loved Little D almost as much as he loved his Obi, which is really saying something. One of Dexter’s favorite games with Little D was to throw him into a pile of leaves or snow, bury him deep in the pile, dig him out, shake him around, and then start the whole thing all over again. I’m not sure how much Little D liked it, but Big D loved it.
Without Dexter, play looks a bit different. This morning, it was taking my two boys and my camera up to Lory State Park, going on a three hour hike, being surprised by not one but two mama deers with twin babies, noticing how green everything is and how many wildflowers there are, stopping to smell the vanilla sent of the pines, taking lots of pictures, remembering and missing our Dexter even as we imagined what our next dog might be like, hoping he (she?) has the same playful attitude, cheerful disposition as he did.