“Why did you cry when we found our dog, but not when we lost her?”
This is a question my daughter asked me today. Our dog had run out of the house and down the street with our dear houseguests chasing valiantly and desperately after. Despite their heroic efforts, she vanished.
My daughter and I had been dropping my son at camp. We returned to sorrowful faces and we began the hunt. We climbed up the trail in the park (the largest city park in the country) and the trees that are usually so delightfully shady seemed ominous and dark. The park, so familiar to us from so many, many rambles, seemed strange and dangerous.
My daughter’s lip trembled.
I shouted our dog’s name.
“Grace.” I shouted for Grace.
Tears the size of green grapes rolled down my daughter’s cheeks.
“Will she be home for dinner?” she asked. “She has to be home for dinner.”
She cried and I shouted. I called for Grace until my throat was dry and my voice was a whisper.
We returned home for better shoes, water, hats, and sunscreen. We returned home hoping to find our small, strawberry blonde dog sitting on our doorstep.
My daughter cried some more.
We drove around the neighborhood. We asked everyone we saw to keep a lookout for our dog and they all promised that they would. The hikers and the bikers and the midday dog walkers joined in our search. I posted our missing dog’s photo online and friends in town and from far away chimed in to help. Dear Grace’s floppy ears and little black nose popped up on iPhones and computer screens across the country.
And still my daughter cried.
We were taking another run up the hill in the park when I got the call. A nice man, a self-described “dog person” had found Grace. I had to ask him repeat his address because I couldn’t hear it over the sound of my own sobs.
The answer to my daughter’s question is this: I cannot cry while you are crying because I have to find a way to fix the problem and if I’m crying it will be harder. Later, when I know it is all going to be okay, I cry to let out all the tears I was too busy and worried to cry. And then some.
Grace is a blessing, a temporary reprieve. Grace is a dog. Grace is what I hope for as a parent. And what, for a time I was able to achieve today. Grace is home safe where she belongs.