Hugo knew it was coming. For however long, it didn’t really matter but he felt it. Kevin and Simon were both as sad as anything he felt since coming over here. He sensed Kaydon too and yet, Kaydon was as calm as Kevin and Simon were sad. He was sorry for his dear people that he was wrapping things up. And in that same breath of emotion, he was relieved that Kaydon wasn’t afraid, glad that maybe his words in the dream soothed and sustained Kaydon in his final days or months, however long it had been since he visited him.
Driver sensed it too, although it confused him. He knew Kaydon was going to be part of his pack. What he hadn’t thought about was what was going to happen right before their pack began. He puzzled over these emotions that weren’t quite his and that he was feeling anyway. This calmness that came from somewhere else. A faint, tiny glimmering sadness from off in a distant corner of a place that wasn’t here.
All the other dogs knew too. Of course, they didn’t know who Kaydon was. What they knew was that another of theirs was getting ready to arrive, and this always affected some of the dogs here, whether it was their pack or a dog who loved them back there. So, when Driver headed through the green meadow of his farm back in Devon, toward where Hugo and Kaydon were lying in the sun in the back yard at the new house, the others knew it was coming soon.
As he approached, Hugo and Zippy were talking. Hugo looked up and, seeing Driver, knew they were all getting ready, had all sensed what was about to happen.
“Hi Driver. How have you been?” This felt a little ridiculous to ask but Hugo wanted things to feel normal. Didn’t want to feel this sadness from his people. Didn’t want to think about what Kaydon was going through back there, right now, whatever right now was back there.
“Shall we get to it straightaway?” Driver asked. Simon had always just sounded like, well, Simon to Hugo, even though he sounded different to Kevin and his family and their friends. When he met Driver, it seemed normal that Simon’s dog would speak like Simon.
“Yes, let’s do that Driver. You’ve got some feelings that aren’t quite yours, right? Not sure where they’re coming from or why they arrive and leave and then come back, over and over?”
“Right!” Driver nearly shouted. “That’s entirely it. I just don’t know what to make of it and thought perhaps you might.”
Zippy sat quietly. This was Hugo’s moment to share with Driver.
“Kaydon’s going to be here any time now. I don’t know how long we will wait but it’s getting stronger. Once it reaches this point, it doesn’t go back to normal. Zippy told me that.”
They both looked over at Zippy, who gave a quiet, knowing nod.
“So Kaydon, my first pack member, is coming and I get to meet him! This is so exciting. I have been waiting for this for so long. I can’t believe it’s nearly here!” Driver ran in circles, and he ran so much with excitement that he ran back and forth between the Devon meadow and the back yard at the new house in Dallas. Then he slowed as it came to him.
“Kaydon’s coming, but Simon is sad, isn’t he? And so is, what’s his name again, Kevin? And Kaydon is sad for them right now. That’s what’s been hitting me so much lately. They are getting ready to say goodbye, and that’s the only way he can get here.” He stopped running and bowed his head in thought. He pictured that little boy Simon, with his blond hair and smile with the front teeth missing and remembered him sad. He knew that was a long time ago back there and Simon must look different now but he still imagined the little boy. They had no way of knowing that even when they grow up, when people are sad, it feels just like it did when they were little.
“Yeah, that’s it,” Hugo said gently, knowing that Driver had a lot to think about.
“Well this is rather awful,” protested Driver. “I want to meet Kaydon but it’s not fair that there has to be all this sadness for it to happen. I don’t like thinking of Simon as sad. I didn’t like it back there and I don’t like it now.”
“I don’t either Driver. I don’t like thinking about Simon or Kevin being sad. I also know that sadness, or at least the intensity of the sadness, softens over time as they think about it back there. It’s hard for them right now back there, and it’s going to be harder when they say goodbye to Kaydon. You’ll feel that from Simon for a while and I’ll feel it from Kevin. And Kaydon will feel it from both. That’s why, when he gets here, you should absolutely be happy to see him but you must remember that what you’re feeling right now is going to be the same for him but many times more intense. You’ll need to give him time to adjust, and he’ll be looking to you for guidance and advice. And Zippy and I will be here if you need any help.”
Driver felt relieved. He didn’t want to admit that he had no idea how he was going to deal with this. In his excitement about having a pack of his very own, he’d not reflected on what must happen for a dog to arrive here to become part of a pack. He knew he could handle this with Hugo and Zippy’s help.
He didn’t wake up so much as come back to an almost-the-same present after a moment’s distraction. He wasn’t in the middle room, where the nice lady smiled at him before he looked at Kevin and Simon and closed his eyes. He was outside somewhere. On the patio in the new house, lying on a cushion in the late-autumn sun, his favorite place since Hugo left.
He wasn’t confused. He knew he’d be going somewhere else and yet, this felt like he’d simply left the middle bedroom and gone outside. But his head didn’t tilt any longer. He could feel the left side of his face. And he knew without a doubt, that if he got up, he would be able to walk, run even, without falling over.
But having a head that didn’t tilt to one side anymore was the best. He moved it to the left – straight, without tilting! Then to the right. And there, as his head moved slowly to the right, they came into view. Two dogs sitting on either side of a third. And that third was Hugo.