Puppies, Balloons, and Lipstick

Erica Rhodes
3 min readJan 29, 2021

A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved. —Kurt Vonnegut

“We are getting a puppy!” my 9- year-old niece announced to me on facetime, brimming rosy- cheek to rosy-cheek with elation.

“We are naming him Charlie!”

“That’s so exciting!”

Annabelle is blooming into a beautiful, strong-minded young girl with her own thoughts about many things.

She likes when I send her make-up, which got me into a little trouble with Grandma recently.

“Why did your aunt send you grown-up make-up?” Grandma asked.

“I love it!” she exclaimed.

I assured Grandma it was just a phase, and she’d eventually get bored of it.

Sure enough, last time I spoke to her, Annabelle confessed,

“Sometimes it’s annoying when it comes off onto my glass when I drink.”

“That’s the trouble with lipstick,” I empathize.

“But you look good, at least,” she says matter-of-factly.


Someone has to teach her what really matters in life.

Why not her crazy LA aunt?

As she shows me a picture of her soon-to-be brand new golden-doodle puppy, with his doe-eyes and floppy ears, I can’t help the dark places my mind goes. (Comedians always go to the darkest places, mostly because nothing terrifies us more than joy).

Oh no…what happens when the dog gets old, and sick, and eventually she has to say goodbye to this friend she’s learned how to cherish. Will she be ok?

They already lost two other dogs, but she was too young to notice the sheer heartbreak.

Having lost my Dad recently, I am all too familiar with the gaping hole that’s left when someone you love is no longer there.

I remember when Annabelle was 5 and got a balloon for her Birthday. Upon waking, she was overcome with grief at the sight of it, deflated, lying lifeless on her floor.

My sister said Annabelle sobbed over this friend she had perceived as more than an inanimate object.