We forgot to tell Jeffrey

My house was a mess of activity in the past few days as our son Matthew prepared to leave for college. There were mental lists of stuff left to be packed or purchased, and boxes and piles on the living room floor. We tried to remember last-minute details and anticipate things he may need in the near future. We planned the moving day strategy.

So much to do! But we got it done, and the kid has been delivered to school. And I didn’t even cry — not in front of him, anyway.

But somewhere in the midst of folding towels, picking out easy-to-use spices and robbing extra forks out of the camper, a detail got neglected. I can’t believe we didn’t think of it.

We forgot to tell our big old mutt Jeffrey that Matt was leaving.

Jeff wandered around Tuesday night looking slightly baffled, but my husband Eric and I didn’t think much of it. For such a large dog, he has a tiny little brain. He’s baffled by doors, the footrest on Eric’s chair, the lawnmower and screens. A baffled Jeffrey isn’t that uncommon.

It wasn’t until the following morning, when I noticed him walking back and forth between his favorite spot by the window and the door going upstairs into kid territory, that I realized there was a problem. He was waiting for his boy. Oh, how sad!

I couldn’t help but think of Puff, the Magic Dragon, on the day that Jackie Paper came no more.

I tried to talk to Jeffrey about Matt leaving for school. How he’d still come home and visit, how he still loved Jeffrey, how he was all big now and needed to go to school. I told Jeffrey he could still sleep on the floor in Matt’s room. I reminded him that we would still be around.

I’m not sure it really sunk in, though. During the conversation, Jeffrey was distracted by a truck showing up at the neighbor’s house, by a bird landing right by the window and by a breeze outside. His attention would wander, then he’d give a big sigh and glance at the upstairs door again. At one point, he walked away from our discussion and headed up to Matt’s room. He came down looking a bit miffed.

If Jeffrey continues to be sad, I’m not sure what we can do about it, other than take him for rides in the Fury and give him extra scratches and pats. After all, that’s how I’m dealing with Eric being sad about our youngest child leaving our nest. It should work on the dog, too, right?

4 thoughts on “We forgot to tell Jeffrey

  1. This was the sweetest column! You perfectly captured all of the emotions we feel as parents, as well as the ones we project on our pets. Wonderful job, Justine. Give Jeffrey an extra pat from me.

  2. I just cut out and mailed the entry from the paper to my brother and family. They took their daughter to college yesterday, and I’m almost sure their pet, Jasper, can relate to Jeffrey’s plight. I really enjoy your writing, Justine, whether it be a news article or your delightful column! Keep up the great work.

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