Raking and gathering leaves is a special time for me. You see, when I do this task, I hear the long ago voices of children and I see the ghost of a dog.
The voices are those of my children who would play in the piles of leaves that I raked up. And when I spread the old blanket that I used to gather the leaves, my children would get inside the blanket with the leaves and I would carry this wonderful bundle across the yard, and all the while the air would be filled with joyful screams and laughter.
The dog was our family pet, Sugars. I brought her home to live with us when she was just several weeks old. Our daughter named her on that first day, but our son claimed her, saying quietly in her ear “You are my dog, not Erin’s. You are my dog, not Erin’s”. And leaf raking time was one of her favorite times. She would run through the yard, finding the piles of leaves, leaping and diving and burying herself in them, much to the delight of the kids.
The years have passed and the days have flown away. The children have become adults and moved away from home. Sugar’s died the week that our son went away to college and her grave lies in our backyard. But as I rake the yard now, I can still hear the children laughing as I pull the blanket filled with leaves. And now and again, I catch a glimpse of Sugars leaping into a pile.
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