1. Peony season. All the blooms outside are done, and the ones I have inside, the last ones, the palest pink ones, only have a day or two left before they’ll be gone too. Each bush I planted is in honor of someone I lost, and the first bloom of this season opened the day that Sam died. Having them all around the house for these past few weeks without him helped to ease the grief, helped honor it.
2. Strawberry season. It comes early and is over in just a few weeks, but those weeks are delicious.
3. The back vegetable garden. We have more out front, another three beds and various other locations around the yard, but I’ve been especially loving the back, going out before lunch and picking kale and lettuce to add to my salad, how as soon as I pick some it starts to grow more.
4. Swimming. The few times I’ve gone, I’ve had the whole pool to myself — another thing to add to my list of “things I hope never return to ‘normal’.”
5. Our tiny house. When we were looking for a new house 18 years ago, our realtor didn’t really believe us that the yard was just as important or more so than the house. When we bought this one — older neighborhood, only 1080 square feet, giant tree out front, big back yard, larger lot, close to hiking and parks and trails, a solid house that needed work — she said, “I guess you weren’t kidding.” We wanted a good house, and that meant a place we could have a garden and the dogs we wanted could have a good place to play and take walks. What we really wanted was a home. All these years later — four dogs loved and three lost, replaced kitchen and bathroom and windows and furnace and water heater and roof (twice), me started and left a job at CSU, all the miles walked, weeds pulled, and hours spent playing and lounging in the yard, eating and sharing good food and flowers we grew ourselves — it continues to nourish and shelter us.
6. My tiny family. The Sam shaped hole is still there, so present. I hold space for him without even thinking about it, like when I go to bed at night, when it’s dark and Ringo and Eric are already there asleep, I expect Sam to be on his bed, wait for the shift, the sigh acknowledging me, and then, when it’s quiet instead, I remember. And this happens multiple times a day, all around the house and in the yard and on a walk and even in the car, me forgetting he’s gone, expecting him to be there and then the surprise, the remembering, the emptiness, the sadness. And yet, I wouldn’t trade this because this is what reminds me he was here, he was loved, and that I was too. It hurts, but with good reason.
The day we let Sam go, I gave him a frozen Kong stuffed with peanut butter and cookies. He fell asleep eating it, happy as could be. He hadn’t finished it and I didn’t realize Eric had put it back in the freezer. Every time I saw it in there, I thought, “now how am I ever going to be able to get rid of that?” The other day Ringo was really wanting to chew something, was wrecking one of his toys, so I got out the half eaten Kong and gave it to him. It made both of us happy. He got to have it and I got to let it go.
Bonus joy: clean sheets, a rainy day, that spot on the corner of our new couch that feels so tucked in but also so central, good books (I’m reading the The Broken Earth trilogy from N.K. Jemisin, and it’s so good), good TV (I’m watching the second season of of Homecoming with Janelle Monae and it’s so good, just finished Little Fires Everywhere which was so different than the book but also the same), good podcasts (DYANR still continues to be a favorite, and Mike Birbiglia just released a new one, Working It Out), good music (Rise up by Andra Day is on heavy rotation), yard time, monarch butterflies, new blooms in the garden as the season shifts, naps, writing with Laurie, hanging out with Mikalina, texting with Chloe’ and my mom and brother, practice, working on my book, a big glass of cold water, reading in bed at night while Ringo and Eric sleep, all the people working so hard and risking their own safety and health to care for others and hopefully make things better.