We needed joy

Poppy: She’s home

So if you follow me on social media, you might know that Norma, my beloved dog of 12 years, died three months ago.

It was, sincerely, the deepest of cuts. I’ve clearly lived a charmed life, because the accompanying pain was as raw, as suffocating, as nightmarish as any I’ve ever experienced. Norma was my sidekick, my writing partner, my friend. She was an eternal optimist, because dogs are eternal optimists. There was no COVID to Norma. No Donald Trump. No fires. She just wanted a carrot to chomp on.

Then, one day, she was gone.

The months that followed were tough ones, because the months that followed were tough for us all. Just one dark moment after another after another, to the point where I’d wake up some mornings and think, “Why even? What’s it all for?”

Enter: Poppy.

She arrived yesterday. From 2 1/2 hours away in Santa Barbara. She’s a 2 1/2-month old bernadoodle (the wife is allergic to most dogs, so we needed a non-shedder), and we all friggin’ love her. She’s soft, cuddly, playful, spunky. She wants to be around people, and makes these funny dog expressions and sounds that spark joy. She is not Norma’s replacement (no dog can replace the Nooms), but she’s a great new pet who—I believe—fills a gap we have missed.

Mostly, though, she’s good news.

And, God, did I need good news.

This week, my book came out—and it’s gone very well. And now Poppy is here. And she’s a tremendous reminder of the importance of having things to look forward to; of keeping life fresh and new and as vigorous as possible. COVID has certainly made that so much harder, but it’s important to never stop trying. Also, it’s important to find happiness. To seek it out. I don’t know what happens in November with the election. I don’t know what happens with COVID. With schools. With kids in cages and the Supreme Court and climate change. But I am fed up with 90 percent unhappiness.

Poppy isn’t a cure-all. But she’s a bundle of love when I require a bundle of love.

She makes me happy.