Sadness and Other Good Things

grandma and jill
grandma and jill

When I was an infant, my grandmother (pictured over there) would put a blanket on the floor for my naps. Her German Shepherd puppy, Jill (also pictured), would curl up around me and nap too.

At the time, my mother was depressed and suicidal. Perhaps she wasn’t the best mother those early days, but eventually she pulled herself together and was amazing and brilliant.

The point is, I love dogs. No dog is ever “just a dog” to me. My dogs are family. They’re love. Maybe that sounds hokey or whatever, but a dog will love you and keep loving you and they want love and affection. That’s it. Dogs will put up with a lot of crap and still look at you hoping you will love them.

I remember in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina some people said they didn’t understand people who stayed because of their pets. These people were dismissive of “crazy” people who stayed in harms way because of a dog. But I always thought–I wouldn’t leave my dog. My dog who expects me to be there, who expects me to keep him safe.

It pains me to think of a pet in terror, abandoned, wondering where his human is. All those years of bonding and support and love to leave your pet to die alone and in panic?

I couldn’t do it.

But it pains me that my Porter pup is now gone. We had him put to sleep this weekend. How horrible. He was in pain and a tumor was taking away everything from him. He couldn’t get up to go to the bathroom. Poor guy. But I wish he were still here. I’m sad.

But sadness is good in its way. How do we know happiness without it?

Of course, whether we’re sad or we’re happy, other things are going on. If we’re happy, sad things still happen. If we’re sad, happy things still happen. Life is crazy that way, don’t you think?

I’m sad about Porter. I miss him. I wish things could be different. And yet at the same time dreams are coming true and things are moving along. Other things.

Books I illustrated are out in the world. That’s got nothing to do with my Porter, and nothing to do with the chemotherapy I’m going through either, but it adds hope to my day.

My publisher, Plum Tree Books, worked hard on these books. She spent tons of time, energy, love, and money on these books. I’m heartbroken, but I want and need these books to do well and to get the attention they deserve.

I illustrated these books during easy-ish times when I was busy but things were normal and good. I illustrated these books while recovering from a double-mastectomy and all I wanted to do was sleep and feel sorry for myself.

Wasn’t it Neil Gaiman who said something about no matter how life treated you, “Make good art.”

I keep trying. I hope you are too.

And if you can spread the word about these books, that would be great.

Thank you for reading.

9 thoughts on “Sadness and Other Good Things

  1. I’m so sorry about Porter. A friend of my husband told me that all dogs go to heaven and I truly believe him. I love this. I have a cute story. My mom was sick and recovering in a sort of nursing home facility. My sister put my mom’s little 20 year old cat in her purse and brought her in to see my mom. The cat was so happy. I was laughing. A cat in a purse! She sat on my sister’s lap and purred all the way home.

    1. A nursing home facility ought to let pets visit! Pets make a world of difference. That is a cute story. And thank you for your condolences. Porter was a good dog.

  2. I’m sorry about Porter. Animals can be the most devoted of friends so It’s no surprise you’re sad. You’ve made great leaps since the double mastectomy, well done. With Niamh’s help I hope you do extraordinarily well. She’s a rare person. After all you’ve gone through a measure of success is well deserved. I have my fingers crossed for you.
    xx Hugs xx

  3. So sorry about Porter. And yes! I hope we do get the support we need for these books. If people let others know about them and where to buy them, that would help, as it would raise the web site profile!

  4. brinkmanship

    Lovely story, and the picture is also wonderful. I am sorry about loss of your dog, but agree that the capacity for heartbreak and the willingness to put oneself in its path is one of the best things about people.

  5. Somehow I missed this post. Weird.

    My sister-in-law’s family has a big — like pony-sized (so it seems!) — white Lab mix named, implausibly, Susan. They rescued her post-Katrina; apparently, she’d recently had puppies (said the vet when they first took her). The fur was worn off around her neck, and the skin there was raw; it was pretty obvious that she’d been tied/chained to something immovable like a tree. We concluded that she had probably been frantically trying to reach the pups (none of whom, as far as we know, were ever recovered).

    Of course we don’t have any actual evidence to support this, but people do love stories about their pets’ (especially dogs’) inner lives. Personally, I love how much dogs and humans have fit together, apparently, for hundreds of thousands of years. If I had a time machine, I’d love to see that first wolf or fox come stepping tentatively out of the forest, towards the fire…

    On a side issue, I’m something like overwhelmed by the new look here. I mean, in a good (or at least good-ish :)) way. Favorite touch: the worm on the hook.

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