The other day, as Lucy and I were playing in her room, I heard a familiar jingling noise. I looked up to see that Lucy had discovered Cooper’s old dog collar hanging from her toy shelf. The sound transported me back to a time, pre-Lucy, when Cooper, our loyal and stubborn pup, was my only baby – his wagging tail and jingling tags waiting to greet me at the door at the end of a long day.
The sound made me nostalgic for the dog days of Cooper and I longed for the opportunity to introduce him to Lucy. Cooper was a beautiful, kind, sweet (and occasionally neurotic) dog who would have been fiercely protective of Lucy had they the occasion to meet. It’s been more than a year since our loyal pup passed away. So much has happened in that year.
Cooper was a part of my life even before Justin and long before Lucy. Not permitted to have a dog as a kid, I jumped at the opportunity to have a dog when my college roommates suggested that we adopt one together. Cooper came home to live with us when he was just 6 weeks old and stayed by my side for the next twelve years. New to pet-ownership, I was unaware of just how much space Cooper would, one day, occupy in my heart.
Always a little suspicious (and terribly jealous) of Justin, Cooper would insert himself between our legs when we hugged to prevent us from getting too close. Given the choice, Cooper would regularly choose to sit closer to me, walk nearer to me, and sleep next to me. Yet in his final days, Cooper all but ignored me, sticking close to Justin’s side. Later, Justin would assert that Cooper was finally giving Justin the okay, as if after all those years, he finally passed muster.
The evening that Cooper passed away, Kelly and Rob, our neighbors from down below, and Stephanie and Eric (new neighbors who we’d barely had a chance to know yet), joined us on our front stoop for a final farewell to Cooper. We toasted Cooper with shots of Flor de Caña and shared stories about his Nicaraguan adventures. Then Justin, Eric and the cuidador set about the task of digging Cooper’s final resting place on the hill just above our house.
The following day, with swollen eyes and a face splotchy from tears, we moved into a new apartment in our neighborhood. The distraction was good for us, we reasoned, and after two years in the same tiny bungalow, we felt it was time for an upgrade, naively unaware of just how prescient our move was to be.
One week later, two positive home pregnancy tests revealed that Lucy was already planning her entrance into the world.
A few months later, safely into the 2nd trimester, we began to tell friends our good news. When we shared the news of my pregnancy with our neighbor, Kelly, she smiled a quiet smile and told me that she already knew. The day that Cooper passed away, “the energy was different,” she told me. “Though the evening was wrought with sadness,” she explained, “I felt joy, too.”
And while Lucy never had a chance to meet Cooper, I do believe that he held on just long enough to see us thru to the next phase of our lives.