Thorin is still taking medicine. I open the antibiotic capsule, dump half of it onto a slice of deli meat, wrap it up, and feed it to him. It’s not the same without Sam wagging his tail, waiting for his treat, and I feel a pang on my heart.
We all sit on the couch in the living room as Thorin races through the house. Lexi sobs, “It’s not complete. It’s wrong to just say Thorin cuz it’s Sam and Thorin. It just doesn’t make sense. He just brings a lot more light to this place, Mom. We’ve gotta get him back. He’s ours. We’ve gotta get him back. How can this be the right thing for us when it’s putting us through this and we’re losing part of our family? It feels empty already. It feels empty. Having Sam here was the closest thing to having a father here because he’s a protector.”
“What’d you say?” I’m startled by her connection.
“Sam is a protector, like a dad.”
“Sam’s the best thing I have from my childhood,” Laina cries. “They’re all I have left.”
Lexi continues, “Thorin’s running back and forth ‘cuz he’s anxious. It’s literally like losing part of our family again. Having pets was one of the only secure things we had. With you and dad fighting and getting divorced, the only secure thing we had was our pets. Sam makes me feel safe.”
“It’s true; he does make you feel safe. You know, when Sam’s there, you just feel safe,” Laina adds.
“Whenever I’d lie down next to him, and he would put his paw on me I just felt safe in that moment. It radiates from him.”
“When I was lying there petting him, he was comforting me.”
Lexi sobs, “So what does that mean, what does it mean? Is nothing in life ever secure? Is there nothing in my life that’s secure? Is there nothing that can be secure besides God? Why? This doesn’t make sense. I can’t breathe.”
“I can’t breathe at all,” Laina cries. “He makes you feel warm and loved even though he can’t say a damn thing. He can’t say anything to us, but you know that he wants to be with you and love you. It’s cold without him. There’s not as much life in here anymore.”
Lexi yells at me. “Talk to us.”
“I’m listening. I’m letting you get it all out.”
“I don’t know,” she says. “It’ll just take the next few days to process this.”
“Not days,” says Laina. “I’m never getting over it.”
“I’m really sorry you’re hurting so much. This is hard and it sucks and it’s not fair. It’s okay to be sad and angry and hurt and heartbroken but know that Sam will be okay, and we’ll be okay.” I stand. “Come on, girls, let’s pray.” The three of us lie on the bed, the cats around us, Thorin at our feet. “God, I confess that we’ve been angry and we’ve been hurt and we’ve been sad. We’ve been stressed and overwhelmed and I’ve been tense. We’ve been impatient and I’ve even been in despair. But, we’ve also been blessed and we’ve learned so much and we’ve been so happy and we’ve had so much fun. We’ve loved and we’ve been so grateful for this time with the dogs. No matter what happens, thank you for that. Please help us with whatever’s supposed to happen. If it’s the best thing for Sam to go to this family, then please help us accept it and heal and let him bless that family. If it’s better for him to stay with us, then please provide a way, show us the way. Please help us. Amen.”
A long pause.
Lexi sighs. “I guess we can find a blessing. There’s something there. This is helping me deal with something from my childhood, so it won’t affect me as an adult.”
The girls focus on finishing homework as quickly as possible. They cry themselves to sleep while I toss and turn and finally sleep.