White Dog woke me in the middle of the night. "Momma, you and I have committed a terrible injustice on the White Dog Army," she started and I jumped up to run and check on the others. All were sleeping peacefully. I opened the door to the living room and she and I went out into the dark room and sat together in my chair.
"Tell me, Little One," I asked my girl who was visibly upset. "What have we done?" She pressed close against me and spoke softly. "We have forgotten their important days!" With that I realized that we were leaving November and had never even mentioned let alone celebrated Nuka's Gotcha Day on November 14th or Puff's Gotcha Day on the 19th or YoYoMa's birthday on November 1st.
I wrapped my arms around White Dog and my tears began to fall. "What kind of momma forgets these special days? How could I have just forgotten?" There were no excuses, I had missed half my family's celebration days. I could not feel more awful.
We talked about a group "November" Celebration but that seemed like such an after thought and besides when everyone awoke, it would be December. There is nothing that any of them need or would appreciate as an extraordinary treat. We had been on a car ride and spent extra time at the Park earlier just because it was our Friday-Is-Saturday. How could I possibly make amends? I fell asleep worrying, wrapped in the afghan and curled up in the chair with White Dog in my arms.
The minute we heard the rest of the White Dog Army stirring, my misery came flooding back. When they all bounded out from the bedroom to say good morning and to question why we were sleeping in the chair, I started crying again.
"Momma, what is wrong?" they all crowded close to ask and comfort. White Dog jumped down so that I could lift Puff and Nuka up next to me and YoYoMa pushed his way to sit between my knees, leaning against my leg. Steve came around the side and wrapped his arm around me with a questioning look.
"My dearest hearts, my most precious ones, I am so very sorry to have let you down," I began. "I have no excuse but want you to know that my forgetfulness does not mean that I love you any less." The WDA and Steve were all looking confused. White Dog helped me and kindly shared the burden, "We have neglected to give proper attention and joyfulness to three important days in November and we are broken-hearted that we forgot your birthday, YoYoMa and your Gotcha Days, Nuka and Puff." I took back the reins of responsibility, "We have been awake most of the night trying to figure out how to make this up to you and cannot find an answer."
The three "forgotten" ones looked at each other, communicating in that silent way a pack has. Puff snuggled aganst my side and Nuka laid her head on my shoulder. YoYoMa spoke, "Momma, please stop crying. A special party and notice of the day is nice, yes, but the true celebration of our birthdays and Gotchas comes every single day when you start the morning by caressing us and telling us you love us. It comes when you and dad fuss to make sure we look clean and cared for by brushing and bathing us and trimming our nails. The feeling we get when we see dad cooking healthy safe foods for us and making sure we get our vitamins and medications and favorite treats, is one of gratitude and happiness. When you sing to us...when dad walks us...when you share bites of your dinner...and when you tuck us in at night with a kiss...our life everyday is a wonderful celebration of finding each other and the White Dog Army."
Puff continued, "we all likely would be dead now if it were not for White Dog and you and dad. Before we came here, no one really wanted us and certainly no one kissed us and told us they loved us. What you do constantly is better than just being remembered once a year."
Every one looked at Nuka, expecting her to add her thoughts, but she was fast asleep on my shoulder. Steve became her voice, "You are an incredible momma, don't ever think otherwise. Look at how safe and relaxed your girl is. Remember when she first came and would let no one touch her without trying to bite them? And picking her up, not a chance. Nuka knows she is in her forever home and that she is loved. And whether you say that specially on the 14th or not doesn't matter...you tell her everyday in a million ways."
"You all don't hate me for forgetting? You don't want to find a better momma? I would be pretty mad if my mom had forgotten my birthday."
The entire WDA surged around me in a loving press. "There is no reason we can't celebrate right now," White Dog said, "how about bacon and ice cream and pumpkin pie and duck jerky for breakfast?" "How about just ONE of those or everyone will have tummy aches." I thought we decided on bacon but when he served breakfast, Steve had taken the festivities to a higher level...the WDA had vanilla ice cream topped with crumbled bacon to start the day.