We call them ‘pets’, and we pamper them and fuss over them and sometimes think that they are in some way a status symbol.
They love us unconditionally (though perhaps even more deeply when food is involved) and ask in return only that we be their Alpha dogs or -cats and provide them comfort, protection and affection.
In almost all cases, we are the gainers.
The worst thing about them is that they have such heartbreakingly short lives, and the puppy or kitten that rolled across the floor and hurried clumsily to you is suddenly the white-muzzled dog who lifts cloudy eyes to you and thumps his tail on the floor.
Dogs or cats? I have both. They both give love.
And they both die too soon.
Last night I bade farewell to a boy I have owned and loved and laughed at for nine years. It was hard, but he was surrounded by those who loved him as he slipped away.
You never get used to it, but truly, it is a small return for the unquestioning, generous love they give us.
Today I said hail and farewell to my dog, Jesse James, who lived to the grand old age (for a large Lab) of nearly fifteen years. It was hard to say goodbye.
|Jesse James August 9, 2001 – March 5, 2016
What purpose did they serve, all the good dogs that once ran through the world and wait now in the shadowy quiet of the past?
They lightened our burdens and drove away our enemies and stayed when others left us. They gave aid and comfort, protection and security. They held a mirror wherein we might see ourselves as we long to be. They gave us a glimpse of the world beyond the narrow confines of our own species.
Although we make dull students, slowly they help us learn how to command and to protect with wisdom and justice and imagination.
They taught and still teach us the joy of giving generosity and kindness and love – without the thought of gainful return.
And now – all the fleet hounds, the staunch mastiffs, the loyal shepherds, the dancing toys, the fumbling puppies, pets on silken pillows, workers plodding at their tasks, the special ones you loved best, those of ours we still miss.
To all the good dogs, goodbye
Until on some brighter day, in some fair place,
You run out to greet us again
George and Helen Papashvily
Things are coming together with Mourningtide. I finished the cover design (with a few reservations – more below) with a mock up of the book itself in the works.
It is copyrighted and registered with the Library of Congress, with an edit scheduled. I’d say it’s five months or less away from publication. I will miss the characters, especially since I know I won’t be dealing with one of my favorites after this.
Here’s the cover mock up. The back needs more of a blurb, and I’m not sure I like the black spine…
I write historical fiction, with or without fantasy or mysticism, and I have realized once again the big sorrow of dealing with people, whether real or fictional: they don’t stay around forever.
I said farewell to my father this summer – and I find myself thinking of things he would love – and realize anew that he isn’t beside me to enjoy them. In the same way, though not as deep, there are characters who, following my timeline, are making their final appearances in life.
Seti (the main character in Mourningtide) has been dead for five years in the time-setting of Kadesh. I realized how he died when I was writing backstory about one of the main characters. Lord Nebamun, who has been one of my favorite non-historical characters in the course of two books, is in his mid-eighties in Kadesh. Will he be there to welcome the troops home? I don’t know. I will miss them both.
I suppose I could pick up one or another of my own books and read – but it is not the same. But when it’s time to say goodbye…