“What a sweet dog.” Two women bend to pet Suki when they see her wagging her tail and pulling at the leash to come closer. Suki’s eyes light up and the strangers love that this little dog is so happy to see them. But as soon as she is close enough to be touched by their outreached hands Suki looks away from them and drags me off to investigate another group of people. She could go on endlessly sniffing out crowds like this.
“I guess you’re not the one she’s looking for,” I say, embarrassed and trying to make light of it.
Unlike Suki, I don’t need to search for Marika. For me she is so often nearby, just hidden in the deepest folds of the world around me. Folds and levels and layers that occasionally yield a tiny earring lost long ago, a familiar sound of her trying on jeans in the dressing room across from mine, or a memory of walking in a field of fireflies.
When I go to pick blueberries there are children sitting in the shade of the bushes eating from their buckets. They are tired and hot and they beg, “Mom, when can we go?” A scent in the air beckons me to look more closely at the nearby daylilies. Marika made drawings of flowers with all the parts labeled. She picked daylilies and daisies for me once and cried when they wilted. The summer is filled with sweet reminders of our times together.
Sometimes I hear her still. In my dreams or in moments of dilemma she tells me, “Get a life” and “Don’t worry” and “Get over it, mom.” So I push myself, I go to events I’d considered blowing off. I focus on the positive. I hug Suki. And even though some of the memories make me sad, I have faith that everything will be fine.