I’m staring at a dog who hasn’t left my side in about six hours or so. Her big, brown eyes stare at me every now and then. She gives exasperated sighs and looks longingly between me and the window at the side of the room. She will exercise her fierce German Shepherd bark at any package delivery guy or someone passing by with a poodle. But she always comes back to where I lay or where I sit. Every few minutes, she gives me a lick on the hand. She is ever hopeful I’ll get up.
She is not any man’s best friend. She’s my best friend.
I admit, I don’t have that many friends. Sure, I know a lot of people and have countless acquaintances. I really have only a few good friends— people I can confide anything to and they won’t judge me or lecture me or tell me how to “fix” myself or my problems. (Trust me, I know there is much to be fixed.) But I don’t expect any of my friends to be the friend that Juno the dog is for me at this point in my life.
Because a dog doesn’t care when you lay in bed half the morning and by noon you still haven’t eaten breakfast or gotten out of your jammies. She won’t tell you to get up.
A dog doesn’t care when your cheeks are tear-stained and you have no makeup on and you look like a garbage truck hit you (and smell like it might have, too). She still looks at you like you are beautiful.
A dog doesn’t care when your hair isn’t brushed and you haven’t showered in maybe 36 hours. She doesn’t care that you don’t have energy to put deodorant on or brush your teeth. She gives you kisses anyway.
A dog won’t care that you ate Nutter Butters and peanut M&Ms for dinner after your kids went to bed. She’s just happy you let her have a bite.
A dog doesn’t care that you talk to yourself in the bathroom, or in the laundry room to combat that lonely feeling of not having a person there to recount a rough day. She only tilts her head to listen more intently.
A dog won’t care or tell you to get off your phone after you’ve spent hours on it reading sappy stories or going through old pictures. She’s just happy to have your free hand petting her head.
A dog doesn’t care when you grip her sides so tightly and cry into her fur because you feel a sadness and emptiness so profound at nighttime, when you crave a warm body next to you. She’s just thankful she gets to sleep in your bed.
I don’t bound out of bed these days. I am not myself. I’m a shitty friend and my mothering skills are severely lacking. Some friends fall away at these sights, sounds, smells of grief. But my best friend Juno stays. She is just the friend I need. And she’s ever hopeful I’ll keep getting up.