Empty Nest – Published in Fresh Words – November 2022
The psychiatrist advised a pet, maybe a small puppy Evelyn could nurture, and with whom she could share the love and attention she so missed now that her only son was gone. Not gone from this world, but gone from the home. After careful thought and research, she was soon nuzzling a darling white ball of fuzz with big dark eyes that welled her baby blues. She named him Sonny, a name the psychiatrist questioned.
“Sunny? That’s spelled with a “u” or an “o”?”
“Oh, of course an “o”! He is my new sonny boy.”
“Um hmm,” the doctor responded scratching a note on his pad.
Each week she brought the dog with her to appointments, stroking her progeny replacement who sat upon her lap while she talked. She and Sonny bonded, never leaving each other’s sides. They walked together. They ate her homemade chicken and rice together. They visited with her friends, and even shared the same bed. She let her hair go white to match his and crocheted them matching sweaters.
While Evelyn and her little “boy” brought each other enormous joy, he, like all children, was not perfect and did have one troublesome fault. He was her fierce protector and refused to share her love or attention with others. As a result, he barked incessantly, bared his teeth and growled like a wild Doberman at the site of other 4-leggeds or humans who came near. He marked his territory in every home where she brought him, staining carpets, Persian rugs, and even bedding when he’d disappear from sight.
Evelyn would publicly reprimand Sonny with a disingenuous scolding that had no effect on his behavior. Her friends were becoming less available, making excuses to avoid her dinner invitations. She was cut from book club meetings and the canasta group if Sonny was to join her.
And soon she was alone. But with Sonny at her side, she remained content, crocheting and listening to books on tape for vocal company.
Even her psychiatrist resorted to Facetime visits after Sonny had left his mark on the doctor’s couch, and the incessant barking made communication impossible.
Though the doctor tried to help her recognize the unhealthy “parent/child” devotion, Evelyn remained content with this arrangement, until the day her son Jacob returned home. She cried to the doctor who offered a sympathetic nod as she shared the unbearable sibling rivalry unraveling her joy, and with sorrowful sigh she concluded, “I know, one of the boys will have to go.”
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