My dog didn't make it. She was doomed by a tumor that had ruptured. From the moment she had started acting sick, her little soul was already aiming for Dog Heaven.
For a few days I kept the yellow quilt in a wad on the couch. It was the last thing she'd touched. It bristled with black dog hairs. I curled around it and squeezed it and tried to find a last drop of her life in it. I couldn't rouse myself to start putting her things away, even though her dog bed and plastic bags and toys still took up space in the back of the station wagon.
Then one day, Jonah said, sadly, "Mommy, can we please put Ada's bowls away?"
"Yes," I said, and immediately washed them and put them away.
The way we move through hard times, no matter how much we may resist this, is little by little. After I washed the bowls, a few days later I washed her bed. Finally, after I began to feel silly about keeing it around, I washed the yellow quilt.
Now Audrey is using it in her imaginary games of islands and castles and Peter Pan. Once, we stopped in the middle of playing and looked sadly at the quilt.
"This was my baby blanket," I told Audrey. We gazed at the little cut-outs of blobby, star-shaped figures that my great-grandmother had sewn onto the yellow fabric thirty-something years ago. "But this is also the blanket we took Ada to the vet in when she got sick."
"I miss Ada," Audrey said in a tiny voice.
"Me, too." I lay down on the blanket and pressed my cheek against it. "I wonder if some little bit of her spirit is left in here."
Audrey lay down, too. "I think I hear something," she said.
"We miss you, Girl," I said into the blanket.
"We love you, Ada," Audrey said into the blanket.