Last week, Mark was away at a work conference for four days and four nights, not that I was counting. Sensing the void, and vulnerability on my part, my older son requested pancakes for dinner on the first evening, which we followed up with a maple syrup-fueled dance party to the Trolls soundtrack. Things started going downhill on night two, when our dog ate the meal I’d plated and left on the table while I wrangled the kids into pajamas. And by dinnertime on the third evening, my younger son was staring at Mark’s chair and lamenting, “Daddy used to sit there.”
Several times during Mark’s trip, I was struck by how a house so full of life (and strong opinions and Justin Timberlake’s Can’t Stop the Feeling!) can nevertheless feel lonesome. I first noticed this phenomenon last summer, after we lost our beloved Lab mix, Bea, unexpectedly. For months afterward, the absence of barking when the doorbell rang and tinkling tags when I got ready for a run seemed more deafening than our kids’ daily squabbling and tantrums. By the fall, the lack of canine companionship became too much to bear and we adopted our puppy, Junie, whom we love despite her propensity for eating off our plates and chewing virtually everything we own. And yet, every day, I still feel the emptiness Bea left behind.
As for Mark, we could have had 50 friends at our dance party and he still would have been missed. If you ever saw his robot moves, you’d have an inkling as to why.
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