Every once in a while I have these “spells,” like a Victorian lady having the vapors. I’d use a more scientific term if I could find one, but diagnosis has been elusive. The spells start with head pain and nausea, usually, and quickly lead to trouble speaking and trouble moving. I feel very unsteady and yet almost rigid, like I’m trapped inside of my body and can’t really control what it’s doing. I feel dizzy, and frightened, and sometimes I start to drool (a little bit, not too embarrassing) or my eyes start to water. The overall feeling is that something-is-wrong, but I can’t articulate what’s going on.
Cricket keeps her distance when these spells happen. She goes under my bed, or under her couch, or stares at me with suspicion from across the room. But Butterfly comes over and tries to help.
The other night, I had one of my spells while I was sitting in my comfortable chair in front of the computer. I felt this unbearable need to crawl to the floor to safety. As soon as I was down on the rug, Butterfly came over to lick my hands and keep close. She watched me and snuggled next to me, not asking for petting the way she normally would, just staying close.
And when I felt well enough to get up and go lie down on my bed, she came with me and snuggled next to my shoulder, until she was sure I was normal again. After that, she left for her midnight snack and whatever other adventures she goes on at night when she’s not taking care of her Mommy.
Butterfly made me feel loveable at a moment when I felt alien and unreal. She reminded me that I was able to walk her and pet her just a little while ago, and that ability would return soon.
My sense is that these spells have an electrical component, because Butterfly is sensitive to electrical things in a way Cricket is not. And she seemed to know when the static had subsided. I love that, in return, when it’s stormy outside and Butterfly’s electrical senses go wonky, she comes to me for comfort. She climbs on me, or sits on my shoulder while I’m (sort of) sleeping, and she knows that her Mommy will keep her safe.
Butterfly was a mommy, and maybe her mommy instincts are what kick in when she sees that I’m struggling. She must have been such a good mommy to her puppies. Maybe that’s why the puppy mill was still breeding her at eight years old. They had to have seen her sweetness, even there, where she was a commodity and her puppies had price tags. They knew, at the very least, that other people would want their own Butterfly puppies.
Sometimes I feel guilty for loving her and wanting her to be happy here. All of those puppies are on my conscience, as if I took them away from her, as if I wished them away because I selfishly wanted Butterfly for myself.
Cricket never had puppies and has therefore remained a puppy herself. She’s never had to take care of someone else, though she does see Grandma as her protectee. Cricket’s caretaking is free of niceties like offering comfort. She is there to protect Grandma – from bad dreams, strange noises, encroaching cold weather, and Butterfly’s advances. She would definitely stick close by if Grandma had a cold or an injury, but she’d so absorb the anxiety that she would become the second patient. She doesn’t quite believe that she and Grandma are separate people.
Cricket especially likes to sit on, or next to, Grandma’s head, as a way of sharing dreams and being ready to beat down any monsters that might show up in Grandma’s nightmares. Otherwise, she curls up next to or on top of Grandma, so that there is no air, only blanket, between them, and that way she always knows where Grandma is.
My girls are very different. I have the sense that if we were home alone and I had an attack of some kind and needed help, Cricket would bark for someone to come and Butterfly would sit by my side and keep watch over me until help arrived.