Karen Anne Kramer ~ CNN Women Leaders 2015 in Lifestyle, beBee in English, Creative Writers Mentor, Editor, Writer, Script Writer • Freelance Writer Oct 18, 2016 · 5 min read · +300



The day came around too fast. I love birthdays, but this particular one I spent with my dog Maggie. I know that sounds pretty pathetic, my friends all wanted to come over and play cards, some volleyball in the pool, bring me presents, and bring their own drinks. I had to turn my phone off after they kept calling me back when I told them I just need to be by myself with Maggie. I told the gang that I was driving up North, and we could celebrate when I got back. Oh, and don’t buy ice. Wait. So they accepted reluctantly. My best friend is a journalist. She is the most assertive, but also the best friend I ever had. I have known her since 3rd grade. Since she is on her 4th marriage, we spend time fixing her head, so to speak, without making her sound like the adorable flake she is! She goes through men like water. She needs to have her legs welded together. I put it on her to do list. Actually it was a sticky note for her forehead, and I made her wear it to Walmart.

Getting dressed was easy. I am one of the most cluttered woman ever. I never hang anything up until the next day. Who wants to keep walking in and out of the closet? I just leave them on the floor and it has become part of my exercise regime. I end up washing everything since Maggie sleeps on them anyway. Time Management. Efficiency Plus...Check.

Maggie had to pee, so I opened the door to let her out. Maggie does the same thing every day. She leads me to the front door because she holds it for so long, then dashes to the white birch tree smacking her head on the trunk. She gives her head a quick shake (to make sure all the marbles are still rolling around in there) then she does her tinkle on the base of the tree. She never breaks her routine. One of my neighbors asked me why the white birch was all yellow on the bottom. He offered to fertilize it. I told him not to touch it. It is one hundred years old. He’s not the sharpest tool in the shed. His head is weird. Shaped like an egg. He should wear a hat.

I checked to make sure the fireplace was completely cooled off and closed the flue. I remembered once when I lit the fireplace and forgot to open that thing. I had a little bit of smoke damage, and I forgot to make my payment on my Insurance. I was thinking about something else I guess. It took 4 vacuum bags to clean up the soot. I forgot to get the chimney sweeper to come over. My Maintenance Book For Dummies gave those instructions. They put big red stars around the paragraph for fireplace care. I lost it. I keep thinking it must be somewhere around here. Do you know anyone who takes a home fireplace maintenance book out with them? Bet that would top off a fashionista’s day as it poked over the top of her Prada purse and everyone saw it. I have another book, My Plumbing Book For Dummies. I had a small drip in the bathroom sink that kept me waking up at night. So I took my trusty wrench and crawled under the sink to tighten some things. I wasn’t sure to turn it left to right or right to left. I don’t know what they were, but the drip stopped. I got back into bed and I must have turned the wrench the wrong way and turned the water on. It reminded me of my visit to Yellowstone National Park. I love geysers. I think the book is drying out in the tub. I hope it doesn’t get moldy. My tub has those little legs on it and a shelf for candles. I don't use a shower curtain. They burn too easily, no, they melt. Now I remember.

Maggie and I got into the jeep and stopped at the store to pick up some snacks. She drinks out of a water bottle. Easy is the name of my game. She can open doors, cabinets and she ate my neighbors can of sardines the day before, so I knew we would have to make a few pee stops, not pit stops. She can hold it longer than I can, so usually when I have to go she does too. We squat together on the side of the road. She always sits in the passenger seat, and it gets really hairy. About a week ago I had a first date with some dude, so I drove myself to his place and honked. Real classy. Safety first. He looked like he was going to a prom. Black suit and tie. First stop was the movies. Some Sci Fi thing. I fell asleep face down on the back of the seat in front of me with some kids pony tail that I was drooling on. She was kind of upset. When the movie was over, I noticed that he was covered in dog hair. So he did this crazy dance jumping around like a lunatic, shaking off his coat and gasping. He had asthma. I told him to take his pants off and this jerk said “on the first date?” I really know how to pick them. I dropped him off and never saw him again. He left his tie in the jeep. I threw it on his lawn.

I was laughing in the jeep on our drive reflecting back to that scene. Maggie had an issue. I had the top off the jeep and she hurled herself into the back seat. That was a first. Whined all the way, and then threw up. I left it there. I just didn’t want to pull over again and I was low on gas. Maggie wasn't.

I brought my favorite book, The Rubaiyat by the Persian poet Omar Khayyám  . I love Persian poetry and the way the quatrains flow and pause and flow again. I have read it so many times I almost know it by heart. I sat on the bench and read it out loud. I always do that.

When we arrived at our destination, Maggie tore off to the exact spot we go to once a year. On the birthday. She never forgets. I wish I could. There is a duck pond at the foot of the hills and there are 2 black swans together for life. Why isn’t it that way for us? I had my bag of day old bread and they came out of the water, so tame. I was slightly nauseous , it must have been the winding mountain roads that made me feel like I was going to barf. It passed. I was just queasy and sweaty. Nerves.

I walked back to the jeep and grabbed my old flannel shirt and blanket. I told Maggie to watch the swans for a while. She did. All 150 pounds of her. Guarding our spot. Spreading the blanket over the big gray stone which laid flat, we both laid down and just stared at the sky. I was telling Maggie that I wished it would rain. That would coincide well with my mood on this glorious day. The sun was going down.

Then came the tears. I rolled over onto my stomach and I could hear my heart pounding. My arms were stretched out over the grass and my head was face down on the stone.

I don’t know why it happened. I cannot ever forget. I feel her presence every day and hear her laughter. She was brilliant, funny, pretty and any room she walked into lit up. This was the 5th year celebrating her birthday without her and to me it felt like a death day. Maggie was silent, laying with her head on her paws and just being very, very quiet out of respect.

There's no tragedy in life like the death of a child. Things never get back to the way they were.

My life was not the same after the death of Chrissy. Everything around me reminds me of her. Life was a constant party for Chrissy. She lived every day like it was going to be her last. I never knew a kid who did that. How ironic.

The sorrow we feel when we lose a loved one is the price we pay to have had them in our lives. I don’t know who said that, I read it somewhere. Time does not change anything. There is an irreparable hole in your soul.

Maggie nudged me, I was sobbing and she took good care of me, because I don’t always take good care of me. Every year my friends keep me occupied when this birthday rolls around. I am tired of blaming myself for her head on collision. I bought her that car. It should have been me.

Maggie and I got back in the car. I left Maggie’s flannel blanket on my daughter's grave. I was shivering and the temperature in the mountains goes down fast. Maggie gave up her blanket.

I don’t want her to be cold……ever.

Hug your kids,

Karen Anne Kramer