The boy he hasn’t been here for a while, but I’m still waiting. He’s grown now and lives far away but he’s still a boy. He’s a boy because when he comes here, he runs around the house chasing me. Then he gets out my toy and tries to get me to play tug-of-war. It’s not much of a war anymore, but he can always get me to tug. Then he tells me about someone named Pippy who could hang on while he lifted the toy over his head. I’m not Pippy and it doesn’t seem to bother him. The boy is always the boy.
Especially when he gets out my surfboard, so I can go surfing at the beach. He lets me run through the yards while he carries my board. When we get to the beach, I forget about surfing when I see the little birds in a flock. I run as far as the birds go and when they turn across the ocean, I turn into the surf. I do it so the boy will have a chance at catching one for dinner, but he never does. It doesn’t matter, when I come back to him dripping wet with sand caught in my long belly hair, and salt clings to my nose. I swim out to him. He’s trying to catch the waves and is about as lucky as I am catching birds.
But that’s when he gets down on one knee and lifts me out of the water and onto the front of my board. I like my windsurfing board the best, because its wider and I can turn around. Sometimes I jump off when a bird comes by. I’m still trying to get him one, I know it would make him happy. Then he has to pull me back up by my collar. It looks like it would hurt but it doesn’t. He never yells at me, he usually just laughs.
After a while I jump off again and paddle to the beach. Some people call it a doggie paddle, but I think that’s a stupid thing to say. I don’t hear them calling it a human crawl or a people backstroke, right? I guess it doesn’t matter much because I meet the rest of our family at the beach. They come down to watch me surf, but now that I’m off my board, they stay to watch the boy.
The waves are gentle, and the sun is bright. It warms the back of my head where my hair is short, so I stick out my tongue to cool off. I try to lay in the sand, but there is just too much going on. I have to watch the boy surf and the little boy swim. I also have to make sure any dogs in the area watch me surfing.
After a while the boy comes in and we walk back to the house knowing that today we did something. We don’t know what it is, but it was something. The boy doesn’t get much time at the beach anymore now that he lives so far away so he knows it’s special. Everyone knows it’s special when he visits, but they don’t know how special.
Anyway, the boy hasn’t been here for a long time. Just because I stopped looking for him doesn’t mean I’m not waiting for him. The other day the boy’s father took me down to the beach. He doesn’t surf so we just run. I thought I saw the boy today. He was out in the water, so I ran into the waves and came up spitting salt. I thought I saw him on the beach, so I ran hard for as long as I could, but I couldn’t catch him. Then I saw him in the clouds. I just barked. It’s all I could do. I barked, and I barked some more. He just laughed at me.
The boy’s dad hooked my leash to me, so he wouldn’t get lost. He patted me on my warm head, and said, “I know Belle, I know. I can’t see him like you do, but I know he’s there and we’ll see him soon. I know.” He doesn’t know that time doesn’t mean anything to me or the boy.
I trot the boy’s dad home and he makes me take a shower. I don’t like showers. I like ocean, I like sound, and I like lakes, but I don’t like showers. It’s a small price though, and I pay it every time for just one more moment when I crash into the waves and paddle to the boy, so he can lift me up just one more time and I can take him surfing.
The boy he hasn’t been here for a while, and I’m still waiting.
Andy is a Clinical Psychologist who lost his son in a tragic motorcycle accident and now authors articles on bereavement. Look forward to his upcoming posts, quiz, and book, “When Sunday Smiled.” Follow him at his website, AndyMDavidson.com and Facebook.com/ThroughLifeandLoss to find out more about prolonged grief.