**spoiler alert** I read a lot of good books. Perhaps too many, for I devour them like one might break an unintended fast- tearing through one after a**spoiler alert** I read a lot of good books. Perhaps too many, for I devour them like one might break an unintended fast- tearing through one after another, taking only the shortest break before picking up the next. Consequently, I struggle to remember each one. It takes more than a few minutes to recall a favorite character, a little longer to give a synopsis, and sometimes hours if ever, the title or author's name. In this regard, I must point out, it is entirely my fault. These are good books- most of the time- so I should at least remember the names of the people who brought me these heavenly retreats. However, more often than not, I enjoy these books only for as long as I read them and even then my happiness, or enjoyment, is contained. An occasional sigh or "hmph!" but usually silence until the last page is finished, the book is closed, and a new one begun.
I'm writing of this now because I have just been introduced to Trixie Koontz as narrated by Dean Koontz in "A Memoir of a Joyful Dog". In an effort to keep track of all of the good books I've read, I joined an online forum "goodreads". After dutifully entering the names of over a hundred books, writing a few forum posts and one review (of a GRE study book!), I abandoned this endeavor. My excuse- I read too many good books... and anyways, in the time it would take me to post my most recent conquest, I could be starting another.
Back to Trixie. After meeting her yesterday and, inevitably, saying goodbye to her today, I need a break. A moment to reflect and "breath in" and out her magnificent life. In the last half alone, I laughed aloud on several occasions, certainly disturbing Nap who, like me during most books, was reading quietly, and then cried. Yeah, I need a break. For this was not a "good" book. It was a journey. A spirit quest. A life. An epic love story. A great loss. It was joy. Pain. It was, no is, an experience that I need time to reflect on and heal from. It was pure beauty.
Dean Koontz's Trixie- Trixie- was a dog and an angel. Not just a dog, as he explains to the ignorant, but a dog. For those of us who have allowed ourselves to unabashedly love and be loved by one of these creatures, we know the significance and truth of this. The relationship between a person and a dog can, as Koontz so amply captures, be so much more intricate, wonderful, and realrealthan the unknowing could even begin to imagine. In the beginning of this story, Dean recounts an experience he had with Trixie shortly after her arrival in their lives. Appreciating the four months they had spent together, he turned to her and said, "You are not just a dog. You can't fool me. I know what you reallyare. . . You're an angel." Now many of us dog lovers have probably felt this way about our furry companions, we may have even voiced it, but Trixie's unique reaction set the tone for the rest of the memoir and certainly her life. As she scurried and backed away from Dean, seemingly saying "you've blow my cover", Trixie demonstrated that angel or not, she was certainly not just a dog.
I must take a moment here to thank my Mother, who knew- like all good mothers do- what I needed more than I did. My book wish list, which I presented to her in the week before our departure, included three books on child soldiers, two on African conflict, one on an Indian sex slave, and one short story collection by a favored Nigerian author, came with the voice afterthough, "and anything else you may think of". I have already read the short story collection, the Indian novel, and two of the three on child soldiers- and they were all good... But I said enough on that earlier. The first one I picked up from Mom, by Thich Nhat Hanh, has already given me the "breath in breath out" exercise that ends with a smile. But the gift of Trixie's tale truly "fits the bill" (as you might say mom). Thank you for gifting me this book...this experience!
In reading "A big little life", I found myself underlining more than I had expected. I included a few of these quotes below, but I will leave an explanation of their significance to me for an upcoming post in the "different place" series. What I want to do is highlight how, from his relationship with Trixie, Dean was able to learn and connect with himself, those he loved, and the complex truths of reality. While I will admit to more than a few cringes of jealousy and envy while reading of Trixie's character and endeavors, I felt more than these useless emotions. I felt thankful. Thankful that someone with such a gift for self-exploration and language had this experience and was able to share it. So, that's it for now. Whether you are one of my readers who has asked for book suggestions- or not- I implore you to get this book, take this journey, and then if you don't already have a dog, find one and experience your own loving odyssey with one.
This is an ode to both Dean and Trixie Koontz. I will not/cannot pick up another book today- not because I risk forgetting either of your names, but because I fear that none of the "stories" I have can match your truth, and even more importantly, I want time to recuperate and appreciate your gift. Thank you!
"We craft fiction to match our sense of how things ought to be, but truth cannot be crafted. Truth is and truth has a way of astonishing us to our knees, reminding us that the universe does not exist to fulfill our expectations."
(Page 7, following the "angel" encounter)
"...of laughter's role in marriage, he said: 'A man and a woman cannot live together without having against each other a kind of everlasting joke. Each has discovered that the other is not only a fool, but a great fool.'"
(Page 51, following one Trixie's jokes.)
"Everyday of our lives, we see far more than we comprehend, and because the failure to comprehend disquiets us, we lie to ourselves about what we see. We want a simple world, but we live in one that is magnificently complex. . . Complexity implies meaning, and we are afraid of meaning."
(Page 267, after Trixie passed, contemplating how Trixie became a part of their lives) ...more