“I think of how dogs are witnesses. How they are present for our most private moments, how they are there when we think of ourselves as alone. They witness our quarrels, our tears, our struggles, our fears, and all of our secret behaviors that we have to hide from our fellow humans. They witness without judgment.” –Lily and The Octopus by Steven Rowley
I’ve outlived several pets, and all that grieving has taught me that if you want to continue to love and be loved by animals, you’ve got to learn to manage the pain of that loss.
Lily’s owner, Ted, is a single man. There are flashbacks to his last rocky human relationship, but mostly we learn that Lily completes him. Thursday nights they talk about cute boys, Sunday nights they eat pizza and Friday nights they play Monopoly. And Lily talks, too. Her words come out in enthusiastic flurries, with every sentence in all caps and every word followed by an exclamation point, as when they’re eating ice cream together: “WHAT! IS! THIS! CLOUD! THAT! YOU’RE! LICKING! I! LOVE! TO! LICK! THINGS! WOULD! I! LIKE! TO! LICK! THAT!
Only when Ted starts to lose Lily does he see that, while he’s indeed loved her more than anything, he’s also used her to keep himself out of the other parts of life: romance, family, and work.
“Because dogs live in the present. Because dogs don’t hold grudges. Because dogs let go of all of their anger daily, hourly, and never let it fester. They absolve and forgive with each passing minute. Every turn of a corner is the opportunity for a clean slate. Every bounce of a ball brings joy and the promise of a fresh chase.”
Keep a box of tissues by your side as you read this book; they’ll come in handy, trust me. I typically read before bed, but after two nights of sobbing uncontrollably while reading, I decided that this was not bedtime reading material for me. 😉 I’m not good at crying, whatever that means. I was taught not to cry and by taught I mean punished if I did. So for years, I didn’t cry. Now I do cry, but it is a painful, gut wrenching experience, and I rarely cry in front of anyone else. And even though this book made me cry, it also made me laugh. If you love dogs, this is a must read.
I am definitely the kitten in that scenario. 🙂 I’m a cuddler. It makes me feel so content that I’d even purr like that kitten, if I could. But unlike that kitten, I’m not tiny, although sometimes I think I am. 😉