Last Friday, I sat sipping Hawaiian-brewed coffee and people-watching for an hour at a favorite local spot during the early morning rush.
Young people on coffee dates came in, people heading to work grabbed to-go cups, people enjoying a lazy last-day-of-the-week morning scrolled through their phones sipping like me…but what caught my attention most was a little white dog who strutted in ahead of her elderly owner.
She had short legs like one of the queen’s Corgis, a pointed chihuahua face and longer white hair like a Pomeranian. She had the most energy and commanded the biggest presence in the coffee shop, no caffeine needed.
I could love a little white dog like that, I thought…if I was ready.
On the first day of February after a sudden two-day catastrophic turn, I lost my near 14-year-old terrier mix, Boomer. He had been my constant companion for nine years after our family adopted him from a pet rescue center. I thought I would have him at least a few years longer, and it was a shock when he died—but this isn’t a story about that day or what it was like to lose my beloved.
It’s about the space between stories.
My Boomer had been with me during all of the spaces in my stories over the past seven years, sleeping on a teal blue cushion by my feet day in and day as I navigated the transition from a 16-year job to a home-based consultancy.
Still by my feet, and in between them each night, as my two kids left for college over the past few years, giving me the constant of mothering someone at home.
Still loving me with uncontrollable leaps at my legs and licks of my face every time I entered a room or came home from being away, even as I struggled with mid-life physical changes and didn’t always feel so loving toward myself.
Still by my side, loyally, as I recovered from COVID-19 the month before he died.
Change after change, he was a near round-the-clock constant, ever present for me amid all of the other comings and goings. Since February, however, Boomer’s absence has been the latest space between stories for me.
Like when I had the idea to work independently but wasn’t exactly sure how it would work, or when each kid left for college and I wasn’t sure how to let go (maybe still am not), I’m in the space between the loss of a constant companion who gave me immense and unconditional love—knowing I want this again but unable to move forward.
It’s just not time yet.
But it got me thinking about this space between stories.
So often, we wish away this uncomfortable void between the end of the old story and the desire for a new one. We immediately want the next shore to swim toward, without the waves in between, to stem the chaos and uncertainty of the space between stories.
We are confused about what’s next or can’t seem to manifest or materialize the thing. Maybe we don’t know what the thing is, or we know what the thing is, but it simply isn’t becoming a thing.
So, what is here, in the space between stories?
If I dig in and dissect what lives in this space, I can find opportunities in the pause.
I can find comfort in the memories of the times that made me happy in the old stories, like when Boomer cuddled between my feet before he nodded off at night. I have learned from wise people that you can’t have grief without having loved first. I can remember the love.
I can feel grief and sadness for the loss of the old story so those feelings don’t get stuck inside—and the weight of those energies won’t block the thing I want, which is to eventually move forward.
I can detach from the energies of old patterns that need to be updated, overhauled, or traded for new ones.
I can just be, instead of doing what I did in the previous story.
I can go inside and learn about me—what I need, what I want and don’t want, what I hope, what I feel.
I can learn to be with feelings that don’t feel so good.
I can listen to the voice inside that had maybe been ignored during all of the busy-ness of the old stories.
I can explore new paths, new relationships, and new experiences that offer something different than what was before…like seeing a little white dog in a coffee shop and feeling that satisfying tingle of wonder that maybe one like her is to be my next story.
Not right now, but someday.