Make My Replacement A Good One… And Other Morbid Fairy Tales
When our two large, slobbery dogs passed away within months of one another, my husband wept like a baby. In the Vet’s office, I hugged him while reflecting silently on how becoming a Human Person’s Mother had made me so much more practical. Though I was sad about losing our dogs, I was happy to let some time pass before discussing pets. Maybe we’d even start small with a hamster, I thought, realizing I no longer needed to board the dogs while we were away, or guilt-worry myself over my pets not having the quality of life they deserved.
For his part, after the dogs died, my husband threw himself into work. But everywhere he turned, he seemed to catch glimpses of our dog’s ghostly tail wagging clockwise in the air. He was always on his phone, searching for what I did not know. After some Intel, I uncovered the obsession that had all but consumed him with a browser history stretching back to the hour following our last dog’s passing. The very hour!!! My husband had been on the hunt for a new puppy. Secretly, without consulting me, and I felt betrayed. Quietly, I came to understand how my small-time hamster fantasies might have deterred him from sharing his Newfoundland wishes with me.
But finally, after staring at him staring at his phone yet another evening, I grabbed it, holding up the images that had been pawing at my soul, clawing at our marriage.
“Is this what you’re going to be doing the day after I die? Looking for my replacement?” I shrieked. My husband, of course, blew my whole unreasonable “girl” drama over, and got on the horn with dog breeders, pronto, relieved his secret was out.
But I couldn’t shake the idea of Replacements and this got me thinking: What if I couldn’t be there long-term for my kids? I imagined myself gone, the children all alone with my husband. Wait one pellet of a second! I certainly did not want a hamster of a woman taking my place: a child bride or worse yet, a mail-order bride, or even worse, one of the subservient ladies from his foot reflexology shop to become the future step mother of my children. Oh no, just removing my ego (and myself) for a second here, if I were dead, I would certainly insist that my husband find a more than adequate replacement for me. Even with my devastating insecurities, I still realize replacing me is a tall order, and so, as I watched my husband scrolling through dog breeder’s websites, I felt exhausted for his future. He would have to scour the world to find an adequate me. I know George Clooney landed that woman, so she’s out. And My Oldest hates flying, so we’re probably limited to local talent. Oy.
Here’s our dog, my husband says, flashing me a photo of a Designer Mutt. This dog doesn’t shed, he says, proudly. Immediately I know his next wife will be much neater and more refined than me. Already I feel better about my replacement. I look more closely. This dog is black and as furry as a Sheepdog and goofy as all hell. Smarter than they look, my husband reassures me, reading my thoughts as he often does. Well, Sir, I think you know smarts count most with me. Especially if I’m dead.