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On the bookshelf sit our favorite family photos. There’s the twins on their first day of school. The entire family, all dressed up at Aunt Sara’s wedding. And old Sparky, eyes aglow, about to dive into what would be his last ever birthday feast of confetti and carpet.

Even though it was days like this that eventually killed Sparky, the photo really captures him at his happiest.

Who knew the pointy corners and mylar plastics would severely tear apart my best friend’s stomach lining? Who knew he couldn’t digest them fully? The way Sparky moved, the way he lived for work, and shined brightest surrounded by mess, that was the Sparky our family chooses to remember. The joie de vivre. The bright eyes. The good times.

Every year the tradition was the same. I tossed confetti all over the living room carpet, making sure to spread it everywhere. Each time Sparky saw the mess, it was like he was seeing it for the first time.

How could I be so stupid as to confused Sparky’s whimpers of pain for yelps of joy, as he devoured confetti in precise angular movements—back and forth. It’s counterintuitive that the sounds of grinding and degradation of gears would be almost melodic. And apparently vacuums don’t wag their cords, like dogs and tails, but that isn’t printed on the boxes and apparently isn’t common enough of a concern to be eligible for the manufacturer’s FAQs. No one can convince me I didn’t see it. Sparky was different.

I thought we were speaking our own love language, but they don’t make Rosetta Stone for vacuums.

My therapist says I need to stop blaming myself for Sparky’s demise and need to cut myself some slack. But I still feel pangs every time I clean the house. And just last week I found myself stuck like a statue as I walked through the appliance section of Macy’s. I don’t even know how I got to Macy’s or what I went to get. My feet grew roots in front of rows of vacuums, all looking for a good, loving home. I don’t know how long I’d left the twins alone for, but the tone of the mall security guard who returned them was jarring.

We didn’t scatter the ashes, figuring it was disrespectful to Sparky’s life’s work, but he is at rest.

Perhaps one day we’ll find another who can bring our family as much love and affection as it takes away grime and dust. Until then, Sparky watches from his perch on high. And the bookshelf too.

Josh Bard

Josh Bard is a guy. A sports guy, an ideas guy, a wise guy, a funny guy, a Boston guy, and sometimes THAT guy. Never been a Guy Fieri guy, though.

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