“I miss Lucky, too, baby. I’m very sad that she is gone.”
“Mama, where did Lucky go?”
“I wonder. Where do you think Lucky is now?”
“I think Lucky is in doggy heaven,” he said with the finality only a five year old can have.
“Mmm, yes. I bet you are right.” Silence settled over the room again. They could hear dry leaves blowing along the sidewalk and an owl hooted from the trees behind the house. A dog barked somewhere off in the distance.
“Mama, what do doggies do in doggy heaven?”
“I wonder. What do you think Lucky is doing?”
“I think she’s chasing squirrels. That was always her favorite thing to do.”
“Yes it was,” she said with a smile. “Do you remember that time Lucky pulled the leash right out of your hand? We had such a hard time getting her to come back.”
“Yeah! She ran and ran chasing every squirrel in the park. And remember when we took her to the river and she found the dead fish and rolled in it. She was so stinky and you didn’t want to let her in the car.”
They laughed and she replied, “Yeah, I do remember that. I bet there are lots of dead things to roll in in doggy heaven. What else do you think dogs get to do in doggy heaven?”
“Eat popcorn. And potato chips.”
“Oh yeah! An all you can eat popcorn and potato chip bar! And tuna, too, right?”
“Yeah! And there is a big field full of old bones to dig up and bury!”
“And she will never never have to play with dogs that scare scare her, or hear fireworks or get in Daddy’s truck. Lucky Lucky.”
He laid quietly for a little bit, but not sleeping yet. They could hear cars driving by outside and rain starting to fall on the pavement.
“Mama, what if I forget Lucky?”
“You won’t forget Lucky. Every year we have a special festival to remember the people and animals we loved who have died, remember? You know how next week is Halloween, right? Then the day after Halloween we have our Day of the Dead dinner.”
“Yeah. We decorated the nature table with pictures last year, and lit a candle at dinner.”
“That’s right. Last year we had pictures of Great Grandpa from World War II and of Grandma’s Grandparents on their farm, and my favorite piece of crochet from my Great Grandma. Remember how we also had a picture of my childhood dog? We can put a picture of Lucky on our nature table this year and tell stories about her during dinner. She is one of our Beloved Dead now, too.”
“Can we put some dog food in her bowl, like we make a plate from dinner for our Beloved Dead?”
“Haha, yes. We’ll have to keep the cat out of it, but we can do that.”
“Mama,” he asked again, after a moment of quiet, “who will take care of Lucky when she is in doggy heaven? Who will scoop out her dog food since I’m not there? And who will open the door for her or wipe her paws off?”
“Oh, don’t worry about that, baby. The Goddess will take care of Lucky while she is in doggy heaven.”
“Yes, every day they will go for long walks and Lucky will get to do all her favorite things. Every night The Goddess will make sure Lucky is tucked into a warm, soft dog bed. And every morning Lucky will wake up younger than she was the day before. Soon, Lucky will be a little Lucky puppy again.”
“We didn’t know Lucky when she was a puppy.”
“Will she come back to live with us, Mama?”
“No, baby, she won’t. She might be born another dog who gets to love another family. Or she might be born a person who gets to love another dog. Or she might get born something else. I don’t really know, only The Goddess knows that.”
“I think she’ll be born another dog and she’ll have another little boy, like me. Only this time the little boy will have her since she is a puppy and she’ll never have to go to the humane society.”
“I bet you are right.”
There was silence again in the room. She listened to him breathing, knowing he wasn’t asleep yet. She kissed his forehead and smelled his little boy smell.
“Mama, I miss Lucky.”
“I know. I miss Lucky, too.”