On the plane, headed to Ohio once again, this time for a real reason — my high school reunion. Last fall I was here so much I grew tired of being here, of seeing my family so much, of spending an entire day getting there. My last trip, I wasn't very friendly.

It was eerie last night, with Andrea gone and the dog's already at the friend's house where they'll stay this weekend. The only mammals in the house were me and Bennie, the guinea pig. I had no idea how much noise that little dude makes, with 3 dogs shifting and snoring, often the only thing I hear is Zeus snoring not the happy squeaks of Bennie eating hay.

I could barely sleep and even with the long wait at long term parking, I was still early. My flight was oversold, they offered travel credit for volunteers so I was first in line. I didn't realize that it would take the one guy designated to hand out the new tickets and vouchers 40 minutes for each person ahead of me. Two flights to Denver came and went while I waited.

After over 2 hours, I found a sympathetic ticket agent who put bumped someone else to put me on the next flight to Chicago. I may miss part of the reunion party but I'll catch part of it. Which will most likely be enough.

Last night I'd looked for my CD player all over the house. I was all set to buy a new one when I found it, in plain sight on the kitchen table. Relieved, I put it in my bag. When we were finally in the air, I opened to put a CD in. There it was. Sting's Brand New Day. I'd bought it last fall and hadn't seen it in some time. It caught me off guard and I started to cry.

October 8, the day Ellie died, we left the emergency vets with empty arms, with only Alice and Ellie's collar and leash to carry us along. I called a couple of friends from outside the hospital until I thought I could drive (Andrea had driven on the way there as I held a screaming Ellie, wrapped in a towel in my arms in the back seat). As I started the car, Brand New Day came on. A sad and sweet song with a hypnotic beat, it seemed the perfect song. Andrea told me to turn it off, but ever since, I've thought of it as Ellie's song. I suppose I'll always associate it with her death, but more with the part that came after, when I was waiting for strength that didn't come in front of the vet hospital, knowing her body was inside, that I'd never hold her or give her McDonald's again.

Today, when I saw that CD, it broke my heart in a small way. Opened up a wound that seems to have healed when I wasn't looking. Maybe it's the passage of time or the fact that I never have to go back to that job I hated. I don't know but am grateful to have arrived at this point. Maybe it's like the moment new mothers finally forget the pain of childbirth and think of having another one. She's always in my heart and the mention of her name still brings tears to my eyes. But I'm okay and she is too.


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