White Dog grumbled a "Thanks alot, Quinn!" as Steve announced that as part of his birthday plans each of the White Dog Army was going to get special one-on-one time at Spa Steve. Water has a cleansing and purifying element, he told them. He needed to share a washing away of some pain in order to honor Quinn's request to celebrate the day.
Then, too, I pointed out, this would be time for each to spend time being lathered in love; time in the splash of the water together to shed a few tears unseen. Each would have their moment to individually tell Steve their birthday wishes.
After breakfast feasting New Mexican style on huevos and tortillas and beans, the salon opened for business. And so one-by-one, starting with Nuka, the WDA joined Steve in the bathroom. We could hear the talking and the running water and pauses for soaping and foaming. We could smell the fragrant shampoo and wet dog. Finally wrapped in a towel and still leaving trails of dripping, a wet pup emerged in Steve's arms. Transferred to momma, the Wet One was surrounded and sniffed by the rest as together we dried and curried and floofed until patience required letting go to allow for a good shake.
The baths were endured in good spirits because they made Steve smile as he fussed and cooed over each of the Army. He reminded Oso that Quinn hated to have his belly soaped, just like he did. Puff got to try The Other White Dog's favorite conditioner. YoYoMa cried softly when first placed in the tub, just like his brother used to. White Dog, like Quinn, came out of the spa and went right to the treat jar. Nuka got to use Quinn's towel.
Steve did allow himself to be feted by Michael and I at a little French bistro we love. Quinn showed his approval as we sat at our window table and a stray ray of the setting sunlight shone through and struck Steve's shoulder. He smiled and I felt his heart lighten. We brought home chicken liver mousse to share in on celebration toast (and a bit of sole for Nuka who cannot eat chicken), And then we cuddled...all of us together...and felt whole for just a while.
Nuka, Quinn's best friend and protector, is perhaps having the hardest time. She misses her companion hugely and spends lots of time just lying in "his" places and looking depressed. We are all giving her extra love and attention as we explain that Quinn has not abandoned her. We still have conversations with him and feel his presence...at night we all now sleep together in our bedroom...including the formerly solitary Nuka. We are slowly crawling from the wreckage of our loss. thank you for sharing our journey...and our pain.