Tonight we celebrated Christmas at my house. I finally gave my friend, Joan, my pugs Vader and Waffles’ breeder, the two scrapbooks of photographs and blog entries that I had compiled for her.
She greeted them with the glee of a child. Her face lit up and her blue eyes twinkled in the same way that my five-year-old niece Tori’s does when presented with a surprise. I love this about Joan, a childlike glee, that despite her age, lights up her face and the world around her when she is excited by an animal, a gift, a delightful piece of news. She squeals and blushes and those around her find themselves swept up in her exuberance.
Yet, as excited as she was, she approached each volume with reverence. The cover of the first featured a picture of Vader and her, one of the first I had ever taken; the second, one of the last. She turned the pages of each as if they were the Old and New Testaments. She could only glance through their pages – each binder is four-inches thick, comprised of all the blog entries I had written last year pertaining to Joan and the pugs as well as all the photographs I had taken of Pugdom and the events we had attended together. She scanned the quotations I included, noted a few pics of the dogs, complained about a few of her and expressed her pleasure at the hours of viewing ahead.
Earlier, when we were out to dinner, Joan confessed how difficult life still is now 15 years after her husband Charlie’s death. “Sometimes I have to force myself to get out and do things,” she said.
Life creates its share of wounds, leaves holes in all of us. Joan, I think, fills hers, in part, with her pugs, filling her life, literally, with fulfilling their needs. Sharing this with her, I fill some of my own holes. I look at her childlike wonder and her joy and I see the love I poured into those scrapbooks. The feelings reflect back to me. The loneliness each of us feels, she for the husband she lost, me for the family I have yet to establish, dissipates. We find in our friendship with each other and the animals that we love, a salve.