Impressions of the Lost.

By: Jen Shoop

Last Friday, I was in the backseat of my car – a perch in which I rarely find myself – and I noticed smudge marks on the interior of the trunk windows from where Tilly used to press her nose against the glass. Her impressions, still fresh.

Grief cuts with jagged teeth, doesn’t it? It had been a sunny day, and an auspicious one, and I found myself promptly rift in two. I sat in grief’s jaw the rest of the morning.

So here we are, a month after her death, and still I find her nearby. Nose prints, a stray kibble in the back of the pantry, the muscle memory of rushing to close the door behind me lest she skitter out alongside. My son continues to talk through his own grief at odd moments, folding her into conversation as often as he can. In the car on Wednesday, he blurted out: “I’m sad of Tilly.” (His own prepositional construction.). “Me, too,” I replied. “And that’s OK – that just shows us how much we love her. What’s making you sad about her?” He said: “I was thinking about throwing her toys to her, and now I can’t.” We talked about her playing with her toys in heaven, and then the car went quiet, and I imagine we were both imagining her tug-of-warring with an angel.

Last Sunday, we were on our way home from my in-laws, and I told Mr. Magpie I had just found myself subconsciously anticipating Tilly’s face in the front window.

“How long until I stop having to remind myself she’s not here?” I asked.

“Maybe that’s not something we want to wish away,” he replied, gently.

It is painful to cast after her ghost as if she weren’t gone, and yet the not casting would mean something different. A lapse in proximity. A further release. A longer, lesser leash.

So I keep her on my ring finger. At night, after I take her off, I look at the impression on my skin and think it, too, is a kind of portrait of grief. An indentation that gradually attenuates. How soft we are, and how resilient, too.


+More on losing Tilly here, and two weeks before she was gone, I had the wherewithal to realize I was sitting in “the good ol days” with her at my feet.

+Life takes root around the perimeter.

+Grief is unexpressed love.

Shopping Break.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through the links below, I may receive compensation.

+My Tilly ring. Truly one of my most treasured possessions.

+Can we talk about these magical Chloe shoes (<<linking where I found them on sale in the best run of sizes, but available at an even steeper discount in sizes 39 and 40 here)? I wrote on Instagram that I’m personally offended no short women had ever told me about them. They are so comfortable, so chic, and add like 3″ with no heel pain. OMG! Never taking them off. I wore them to dinner with Mr. Magpie on Friday and we both joked that they had become my new personality. I felt like a different woman in them! (A 5’3 one. Ha!)

+J. Crew just released a gorgeous linen maxi that I predict will be a staple for many of us during the evening hours this spring. (The chartreuse is fun!). Also comes in a mini length.

+I’m in love with this mini crossbody from Cuyana. Such good colors! While we’re talking cute spring bags: get the Cult Gaia look for less with this $50 clutch.

+NB just released the most adorable toddler sneaks in great colors for spring.

+When I finally sat mini down to select her Easter dress over the weekend, she surprised me by picking this Lilly P. and silver Jack Rogers! (More of my Easter picks here.)

+Three other gorgeous Easter/spring dress candidates: this Anthro (chintz-like pattern reminds me of my Doen dress!); this Zimmermann-esque steal from Dillards; Julia Amory’s Betty dress in the new ballet pink pattern.

+This De-Gournay-esque woven tapestry basket is gorgeous.

+Also! Two additional Easter basket possibilities: an Easter version of Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza (my daughter’s FAVORITE game – we play this several nights a week!) and these mini squishmallow capsules. My kids love these SO much. I got them each one. While you’re at Target: cute half-zip for you in a great pastel hue.

+If you waited too long to order a personalized Easter basket, this sweet Amazon one is adorable and arrives tomorrow.

+Cute initial caps for littles for spring.

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8 thoughts on “Impressions of the Lost.

  1. Hi, Jen –
    I know you are hurting because the loss of Tillie is the loss of a family member. I’m still grieving my brother whom we brought home to be with us through hospice when he passed. Well, I’m watching “The Crown” and I stopped everything when I heard what Prince Philip told a friend who was grieving the loss of a child.

    I would stop, write a word or two, and then play, stop and write again. I wanted it to be EXACTLY what he said. He put into words exactly what I was feeling (and still feeling every hour of every day.)

    He said :
    A long time ago I lost my favorite sister in an airplane crash. I learned then what grief was. True grief. How it moves through the body. How it inhabits it. How it becomes part of your skin. Your cells. And it makes a home there. A permanent home. But you learn to live with it. And you will be happy again. Though never in the same way as before. But that’s the point … To keep finding new ways.
    I needed to hear, to read, to write down those words. And I keep that piece of paper in my pocket so I may look at it several times every day. I read it when I’m tired, when I’m happy and, of course, when I’m sad.

    I wanted to share them with you because I know you are grieving the loss of Tillie. I hope you find comfort in them as I do.

    Priscilla McKinnon

    1. Hi Priscilla — This is such a gorgeous way to think about grief. I am so glad you’ve shared it. Thank you.

      Sending you so much love, too!


  2. This was the perfect essay on the perfect day for me. Yesterday I mislaid the ring my grandmother gave me, which was her mother’s engagement ring and all that remains of that generation and story. It is my totem as I recall my grandmother who was truly my best friend and such a profound, quiet presence until she passed.

    Long story: wild animalistic panic followed by impossible relief when I found it: “So I keep her on my ring finger….An indentation that gradually attenuates. How soft we are, and how resilient” is such succinct and exquisite phrasing and it resonated to my core.
    Thankyou for the hand-holding to the terror of yesterday that I didn’t know I needed.
    p.s 2nd shoutout to your dad and his words. A wise, wonderful man.

    1. Oh Jean! I’m so glad you recovered it, and can completely relate to the panic you must have felt. So glad you have the talisman back!


  3. Oh, Jen. Your writing is so deeply moving. Especially this:

    “So I keep her on my ring finger. At night, after I take her off, I look at the impression on my skin and think it, too, is a kind of portrait of grief. An indentation that gradually attenuates. How soft we are, and how resilient, too.”

    Sending love to your family and to your Tilly in dog heaven.

  4. “Maybe that’s not something we want to wish away” — that cut me deep! How true for so much of the painful reminders in grief.

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