Tonight we watched “Marley & Me“. Eventhough I’ve read the books twice and watched the movie 4 times, I cry EVERY time. Every. Single. Time. Tonight was no different.
I don’t know what it is about that story that touches me so. We have a “Marley”. But her name is Maggie. And she’s not your typical “good ol’ dog”, she’s more of the “crazy bitch” kind of dog. When she was a puppy(back before I had a digital camera) and Marshall was in medical school, she was my bestest buddy. I was essentially all alone in a town I hated. My husband was either always at school or always studying. I was in a job I hated. I didn’t have a church home. I missed my family. I had no non-medical friends. (The medical friends I did have were all studying, too.) It was lonely. Very lonely. And Maggie was always there. Always happy to see me. Always happy to be cuddled and loved. But also doing things like eating the wall, gnawing on her crate enough to destroy it, obliterating dog toys in mere seconds. I’ve been pretty good about documenting my children’s lives…but I wish someone had encouraged me to write down the stories about Maggie. There are so many things I know that I’ve forgotten. If not for the pictures, I wouldn’t remember the time it snowed and she & I sat and watched it fall while Marshall cut away in the anatomy lab. She was so cute in her little sweater. Yes, I was one of those people who dressed my dog. I probably still would today, but she left no question in my mind that she hated it when she literally ate her Halloween costume. And yes, I did just say I had a Halloween costume for my dog. But really, folks, it felt like she was all I had sometimes. And she would sit with me and watch girly movies without complaining, and she would be excited to see me when I got home, and she would cuddle like nobody’s business. Eventhough I bought her for Marshall, she was (and is) my dog. Even though we now have two dogs(we got Madison not too long after Maggie, acutally), Maggie was my first. There’s something special about the first. And I know that the time will eventually come when we will probably have to make decisions similar to those in the book. And that breaks my heart. And makes me want to cry. You’re cold-hearted if it doesn’t.
But that’s not the only thing that touches me about this story. I see so much of myself in John Groban’s wife Jenny. She seems, according to the book and the movie, a fairly outgoing person. A good wife, a good mom, a good friend, a good girl. And she stayed at home with her kids-the first two who were only 17 months apart. I know what that’s like. I know how hard that is. I was in the midst of that when I first read the book. And to see her struggle made my struggle seem more bearable. I remember reading this sentence and thinking, “This is me. This is totally, 100% me. And I’m glad to know I’m not alone.”:
“The joy [our children] brought us was profound. Yet the darkness that had descended over Jenny while she was on forced bedrest persisted. Some weeks she was fine, cheerfully tackling the challenges of being responsible for two lives completely dependent on her for every need. Other weeks, without warning, she would turn glum and defeated, locked in a blue fog that sometimes would not lift for days.”
And, even though the book is called “Marley & Me”, it’s really about Marley’s family and all the things Marley was there for. And it is so well-written that you feel like a part of the Grogan family. Most of us can relate to the ups-and-downs of marriage and parenthood and life in general. And a lot of us have a dog…a special dog(or cat or fish or turtle) that you’ll never forget. I hope that Maggie’s around for a lot longer. But I can’t not notice that she’s sleeping a lot more these days. And standing up after all those naps takes a little longer than it used to. But I can’t imagine not hearing the clack-clack-clack-clack of her nails on the tile. Or the crazy peacock/crying baby noise she makes. Or the groan she makes when you rub her ears.
Look, now I’ve gone off and made myself cry again. I need to go to bed!