I have been missing Max something fierce lately. Just looking at this picture I recall the special connection I always felt when I looked into his eyes. He was a playmate to my sons, the charming secretary who greeted my clients, my stalwart companion through the events of my first husband’s suicide. My walking partner, after, as we put one foot in front of the other to heal.
He is also one of the few real-life characters in my novel THE FAR END OF HAPPY, based on the bones of my first husband’s suicide standoff as three fictional women—his wife, his mother, and his wife’s mother—struggle to make tough decisions, face shameful secrets, and cling to hope as they await word. That twelve-hour gauntlet changed us all. Including six-year-old Max, who could only shiver in fear beneath the thwomp-thwomp of the helicopter overhead and watch as his humans disappeared from the house, one by one, under the guard of policemen who would eventually return to take over his house and ignore his needs. From that day forward we were inseparable.
He was looking into my eyes, just like this, when eight years later I had to make the torturous decision to put him down. He was in so much pain, and I’d made this decision before with other animals, but how could I live without my Max? Yet once I finally made the decision he looked right into my eyes as if to forgive and tell me it was all right, I would be all right. After all, he’d had the final say when I’d “vetted” my second husband; he was leaving me in good hands. And as the drug that would stop that sweet, generous heart entered his system, Max sighed, lay down, and moved no more.
It’s been ten years since Max died. There have been times since then that cuddling with a four-legged friend would have been just the thing, especially last fall when both my mother and my aunt died, but I never got another dog. Turns out that I, too, am fiercely loyal. I had a bond with Max that I do not want to test against new possibility. He was the one who saw me through the greatest challenge of my life and together, for each other, we were brave.
He is with me still, and lives again in the pages of THE FAR END OF HAPPY. We hope you will download a digital copy at Amazon, NOOK, or Kobo. For today’s remaining hours it’s only $1.99, but I hope you’ll agree that a story inspiring us to find hope when facing one of life’s toughest challenges is a good buy on any day, at any price.