She’s Here to Stay

I don’t even know what I want to say. An hour ago, I thought we’d lost Holly Lou. I didn’t think she was coming back. We were at my husband’s grandparents’ house and, as usual, when it was time to leave, Javan and Holly exited about two minutes before I did. I take a minute to say bye to people, and, ya know, he doesn’t. I walked to the car, the back door was standing wide open, but Javan and Holly were nowhere to be seen. I called a time or two, then heard him scream from behind Gigi’s house. I ran. He had tripped and fallen on a large tree root and, he didn’t know this part yet, fallen into a huge pile of fire ants. I pulled him up and stripped him naked in front of God knows who. One of the first things I did while unclothing him was to unhook Holly Lou from his harness so I could get that off him. I knew she might run off, but I couldn’t take care of that at the moment and I figured she’d stay close since her boy was sort of terrified and hurt. She didn’t.

I sent him into Gigi’s to ask for a towel to cover himself with and then I called for Holly Lou. I knew which direction she had run, but she was nowhere to be found. I couldn’t see her. She wasn’t coming. I remembered not to seem like I was chasing her. I remembered to sound nice and happy and like I didn’t want to kill her when she came to me. Then I figured, that wasn’t working anyway, so I’d let some of the panic show in my voice and see if she’d respond to that. It works sometimes when I want her to find Javan, so she knows I’m serious. It didn’t work this time. She wasn’t coming.

Then I hear in a half joking, half panicked voice, “I’m coming, Mom!” That’s Javan’s favorite line from the story I tell about him helping me rescue Holly Lou in our neighborhood a few weeks ago. It had been a cold rainy day, she got out, I was yelling and running through the neighborhood when I hear this heroic “I’m coming Mom” yelled from our driveway, where I saw my long-limbed boy sprinting towards me in nothing but a pair of underwear and a helmet. I guess he associated Holly Lou going missing and him being naked with that day. I got him to go to his grandparents’ house where Pops kept him calm while Weebow helped me search.

Then I heard the jingle. The sound that annoys me so much when we’re in a “quiet place.” The sound of the tags on her collar. I bent down and held my arms out and called her in a happy voice that totally betrayed my inner feelings of wanting to knock the living daylights out of her, and she ran right into my arms. I dragged her back to Javan, hooked them up, and got everyone into the car.

Apparently, when she and Javan had gone out of Gigi’s house, Holly had seen a cat and decided to bolt after it. It really bothers me that she totally ignored Javan, she dragged him behind her, and then she left him in his hour of need. I don’t know how to make those things better. I will be talking with my aunt to see how she can help me. I do know that Holly is important enough in our lives to reconcile these shortfallings. I just have to learn how.

When I was calling her for so long, and I was worried since we weren’t home she wouldn’t know how to get back to us, I realized how panicked I felt inside. You know they say in crises you can see your life flash before your eyes? Well, this obviously wasn’t anything that dramatic, but I did see a life flash before my eyes. It was my life, my family’s life, before Holly Lou. And I realized that I was completely terrified to be thrust back into that life. She has changed Javan, our family, and the way in which we are able to interact with the world to such a degree that I really don’t know what I’d do without her. And I know that Javan feels the same way. When we were driving home, and I was talking with Javan about what had happened, I told him that I would be calling Aunt Donna tonight to see how we can prevent this from happening again. He was choking back tears when he expressed his fear to me that she would say we have to give Holly Lou up. No, Baby, we’re not giving her up. Not for anything. She’s here to stay.

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