She knew the holidays would be hard without him. Handing out candy by herself as little kids dressed as princesses and Power Rangers knocked on her door had her sobbing as soon as she turned her porch light off. She thought being surrounded by friends on Thanksgiving might make things a little easier, keep her distracted from the soul-crushing pain of him not being around, but it turns out breaking down in front of others feels worse than when she does it in solitude. Now it’s a week before Christmas and, honestly, she isn’t sure she’s going to be able to make it to the New Year.
It’s been almost two months since Mark died. At twenty-seven years old, Pam Beesly finds herself sitting alone in a house her and her late husband once called home but now feels too big, too quiet, too much like just a house. She has considered starting over. Getting all knew furniture and knick-knacks so she can walk around her house without the constant reminder that Mark isn’t down the hall anymore. Possibly down-sizing, maybe getting an apartment a little closer to town so that way when her Jeep breaks down, she doesn’t have to walk so far for work, but she can’t. Moving means packing up all of his things, and although the sight of his razor in the shower still makes her cry and seeing his shoes next to the door nearly kills her every morning, she couldn’t part with them if her own life depended on it.
So, she still uses the same bowls that he once ate Frosted Flakes, and only Frosted Flakes, out of in the morning, the comforter that he would hold her under as they slept still lays on their bed, and she sits on the same couch that they spent 75% of their life on, from movie nights to making out like teenagers to falling asleep after a long day on the boat with their friends, barely making it through the door before passing out.
That same couch is where Pam finds herself currently, curled up with a blanket wrapped around her shoulders, reminiscing for the millionth time since he died how if Mark were still here, they’d be eating their Friday night take-out as they talked about their days. She stares out the window, the winter storm outside almost matching the one in her head. She places a hand on the cold glass as she watches the snow pile up, the wind blowing it in every direction. The wind picks up and she watches the tree in her front yard sway around, its branches occasionally hitting the house before getting thrown in the other direction.
She closes her eyes and rests her forehead against the glass, letting herself get lost in her thoughts and the blizzard outside. She can almost feel Mark sitting behind her, telling her that he’s going to have a hell of a time shoveling the driveway tomorrow and asking her if she thinks he could bribe the Scott boys from next door with some extra cash for the holidays. The feeling is lost when the branches knocking against the house get louder, ripping her out of her daydream. It’s not until she opens her eyes and looks out the window once more that she sees the tree is bending in the opposite direction of the house and the knocking is coming from her front door.
She stands up, letting the blanket fall to the floor as she wipes the stray tears from her cheeks and runs a hand through her hair, trying to tame her curls, lest it be one of her friends and they think they need to stay. The last thing she wants is to entertain any guests at the moment. She opens the door to find a teenage boy in a heavy winter coat and a giant box in his hands. She folds her arms over her chest, trying to block out as much as the cold air as possible as she greets him.
“Hi, you’re Pam, right? Pam Beesly?”
“Yeah, I am.” She glances down at the box then back up at him, “Can I help you with something?”
“My dad told me to drop this off for you. Said it was real important, and with this storm he figured you may need it sooner rather than later.”
She shakes her head, trying to recognize where she may know this kid from. “I’m sorry, your dad? Do I know him?”
“I would think so... Dwight Schrute. Your husb- or, uh, I mean Mark and him were coworkers when they were younger.”
“Oh, Dwight. Right, of course. How is he? And Angela?”
“Both doing well, getting prepared for the winter. Dad says the farm produced plenty of crops for us to get by but Mom’s not so sure.” He rolled his eyes and smiled a little before handing over the box to Pam. “Anyway, I better get back before the roads get any worse than they already are, I just wanted to make sure this got to you.”
“What is it?”
“Can’t say, just don’t shake it and keep this side up, okay? Have a good evening, Ms. Beesly, and Merry Christmas!”
He was down the porch steps and in his truck before she could even muster a reply. She shook her head and gently kicked the door closed behind her as she brings the box into the living room. She sets it down in front of the Christmas tree that she debated on getting for so long that by the time she decided to pick one up, all that were left were ones similar to what you would see in a Charlie Brown cartoon. She brought it home anyway, hoping it would make the house feel just a bit more normal if she decorated. Distractions, she has come to find out, are the only way to get through the day until she can get home and cry herself to sleep after all the distractions are gone.
She grabs the blanket off the floor and wraps it around her shoulders once more before sitting down in front of the box, wondering what it is that Dwight Schrute of all people had that was so important she had to have it tonight, in the middle of a blizzard. He seemed like a nice guy, sure, but she barely knew him. She met him once when she first moved here and again a few months later when he came into her shop for a Christmas present for his wife. Besides that, it was only friendly waves as they passed on the street and the occasional story from Mark about when they used to work together or if Mark visited their farm every now and then for some fresh vegetables. She wondered for a moment if the box was full of beets, corn, and potatoes. Wondered if Dwight thought she was so far gone that she couldn’t even provide food for herself. The box seemed too light be be that, but based off of the stories she’s heard, she wouldn’t be that surprised.
She takes a deep breath and pulls off the top, surprised to not see anything at first besides an envelope taped to the side. It wasn’t until she looked again that she saw a little brown ball camouflaged in the corner of the box. She wasn’t sure what it was, only that it was an alive because she could see it breathing. But it was so small and huddled into a tight ball in the corner, she could only see its back and the top of its head. It seemed to be sleeping, though, so she reaches for the envelope instead. When she turns it around, the name Pam in a handwriting she knows all too well makes her head spin and her breathing stop. That handwriting has been on love notes written only for her, on messages scribbled on the whiteboard near the fridge telling her they were out of milk, on papers scattered throughout the house as he would start a project and never finish it, the only proof of it existing being those papers she always asked him to clean up, but he never did. Those papers were one of the very few things that annoyed her about Mark, but now she would do anything in order to have them back.
She stops, not allowing herself to get swallowed up by her thoughts, at least not until she figures out what it is that is sleeping in a box in her living room and why her dead husband’s handwriting is on the front of this envelope. She turns it around and lifts the flap up, taking out the piece of notebook folded up inside. She glances down at the little brown ball again before unfolding the letter, tears instantly falling down her cheeks as she reads Pammy- on the top line, the nickname only Mark called her. She takes another deep breath, trying to calm her mind and breathing all at once, before starting the letter over.
If you’re reading this, it means that I’m already gone. I don’t know how long I’ve been gone, but I needed to write this letter to you before it was too late. Remember that time I went to the Schrutes’, saying we were out of a few things for dinner and it was too late to go to the store? Well, that wasn’t entirely true. I did need a few things but I also talked to him about the little guy, or girl, who’s with you right now. He raises Great Dane puppies, and I always wanted one as a kid. Mom always said no, that they were too big and would eat us out of house and home, but they’re the sweetest dogs ever and when I found out that Dwight raised them, I knew I had to ask for one for you. Of course, if you don’t want it, you don’t have to keep it. Dwight said he would take it back, no problem. But if you do decide to keep it, I hope it helps you.
I know what you’re going through must be so hard. I know I would be a mess if our situation was flipped and I had a chance of losing you. I wouldn’t know how to go on with my life. But you need to, Pam. You need to get past this, live your life without fear or sadness, you need to find happiness again. Find someone who will make you happy. It may seem like that’s impossible right now, but there’s someone else out there for you. Someone who will make you smile and laugh and love life like we did with each other. Take your time, but find someone new, I need you to be happy, that’s the most important thing. Until you’re ready, though, I hope this pup will help you. I hope it gives you the love and stability you need until the world seems a little brighter again. I also hope that they are a constant reminder that I’m always there with you, even when it seems like I’m not. I promise I’m watching over you, I hope you never forget that.
I love you so much, Pammy.
Pam held the letter close to her chest, tears streaming down her face as she sniffled and tried to gain her composure. After a moment she laid the letter down on the floor beside her so she could look back into the box. The puppy, she now knew, was awake, looking up at her, seeming as broken, confused, and alone as she felt right now. She smiles gently and scoops it up, not knowing how this dog who is supposed to one day be as big as a small horse is now just barely bigger than the palm of her hand. She finds out that the pup is a boy, and as she pets the top of his head, he starts to whine.
“Shh, it’s okay. Nothing’s going to happen to you, I promise. You’re safe now.”
The dog looks up at her again, almost as if trying to decide if he should trust her or not. After a few seconds, he starts to howl again, though this time she can tell there’s no fear behind it. She chuckles and pets his head once more before cradling him close to her chest and whispering, “I think I’m going to call you Singer.”