Home You’re Not Alone: Multiple losses and the Underwear Thief

You’re Not Alone: Multiple losses and the Underwear Thief

linda r. jones
Linda R. Jones/Photo by Kevin Blackburn

Column by Linda R. Jones

I have been angry for so long and then my anger shifted to numbness when my dog, Bubbles, died recently.  It seems as though the loss of this innocent creature abruptly put the grieving and mourning of my father on hold.  My brain and soul can’t absorb all this sadness at once.  Then there’s also another little innocent creature that needs my attention now.  My other little dog, my other companion, Sammy, the underwear thief, needs me.  He is clearly confused by the loss of his pal, his sister, the Prima Dona, his queen, Bubbles.

My daughter brought Sammy to the vet’s office to say goodbye to Bubbles.  Sammy sniffed her lifeless body and my daughter took him out.  What I didn’t know is that Sammy tried twice to get back into the vet’s office after my daughter took him out.  Sammy hates going to the vet.  The only door he likes there is the exit, so for him to want to go back in meant that he knew something needed his attention.  Just like me, there is nothing Sammy can do but miss Bubbles.

Sammy is on edge.  The slightest noises frighten him.  He started hiding in the bathtub.  We started closing the door.  He follows us everywhere.  He cries if we go to the front door.  We take turns going out so he isn’t alone.  Fortunately, he is eating and still sleeping peacefully with us.  My morning reading and writing ritual has shifted from my comfortable chair to the couch so he can snuggle up against me.  I’m not sure if I’m comforting him, he’s comforting me, or both.  It is the most peaceful part of my day.

Sammy likes to “steal” underwear.  It’s his only weakness.  He doesn’t tear them up it’s just his prize after a hunt.  While I was having one of many tears and sobs over Bubbles and wondering what best to do to comfort Sammy, I thought of my father’s first encounter with Sammy.  Sammy was sitting on the bed watching my father put out his clothes for the day.  As soon as my father turned, Sammy stole and ran with my father’s underwear.  I picked up Sammy, my father’s whitey-tighties dangling from his mouth, and asked my father, “Are you looking for these?”

My father laughed, looked right at Sammy, and said, “Ach!  It was you.  You underwear thief!”  It sounds better with a German accent.  The term stuck.  When we see Sammy running around with underwear, we all call him with a German accent, “Come, you underwear thief!”  Sammy seems to perk up as if he’s waiting for my father.

I became an insane woman, laughing hysterically through hysterical tears.  I thought of putting out underwear (freshly laundered ones) throughout the house for Sammy to hunt.  I wondered if it would distract him from his pal Bubbles, the Prima Dona, who would have been repulsed by such an action.  I pictured hundreds of pairs of underwear scattered throughout my house and kept laughing.  What would people think?  How would I explain I was intentionally doing this to assist my companion with his grief?  The tears subsided yet my laughter continued.

It is comforting to know that in the midst of overwhelming sadness a simple memory can bring some joy.  Even if it’s only a few moments of reprieve, it gives me hope that there will be better days ahead.

My healing journey continues.  Join me.  Don’t mind the underwear; they’re clean.



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