Marriage is what brings us together today

I was ready for my own sadness; my dog had been old for a long time. But I was wholly unprepared for Mary’s grief. And so I was surprised to be talking to her and find her sobbing. Or walk into a room and there she is, tears all down her face. It seems so obvious now, of course, sitting here writing this. Latte was my dog for 14 years, but she was Mary’s as well for the last 4.

Love starts the way stories do — it has to feel both surprising and inevitable.

The thing about grief is that it’s so boring. Her dish on the counter. Her bed in the front room. No toenails on the floorboards. No single summoning bark from the deck. She woke every morning at 6 a.m. Now I bolt up at 7 with a terrible restfulness. How did I sleep through her hour again?

We marry and we think, Our life. Our life starts now. In this moment. But that’s madness. It has been intersecting all along. Tumbling and jumbled so I can’t figure out whose damn socks these are. Mine? Are the ones with three stripes mine? We get the comfort of someone else as a witness. And the horror of someone else as a witness.

Exponential grief. Yours and mine multiplying forever.

I am so fucking sad.

But it’s easier to comfort her than to comfort myself. To tell those stories of the wild dog who hopped into tree branches, caught gleaming fish in the river, never learned to leave porcupines alone.

You share grief and its opposite. You share all of it. The way he lifted her body up by the paws and I wanted to cry out, but she was gone. What I knew of her was no longer bound by her steadily crippling legs.

We get all these things. Those last steady breaths in the sunlight and my wife crying because she wasn’t with me at the end. This weekend, we all of us went to the door and nearly called for her. Too cold for a dog to be outside long. Too cold. Where is she? Where?

The hours don’t mean what they used to mean.

I married you to all of this. I married myself to it as well. Sorrow and glow.

2 thoughts on “Marriage is what brings us together today”

  1. I am so sorry for your grief and loss. Your story made me cry and think of when I am going to have put my Maddy girl into deep slumber. She is 11 and has been with us as long as Big Daddy and I have been married and has grown up with out grand-daughter, they are the same age.

    Maddy always meets you with a leaf, a stick or toy in her mouth and she squeals and wiggles when you come in the door or yard. She is not a little girl about 75 lbs, but as gentle as they come and loves all children.

    I truly understand Mary’s grief and yours as well, they are our children not just an animal or a furry friend.

    They are Family.

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Jill Malone

Jill Malone grew up in a military family, went to German kindergarten, and lived across from a bakery that made gummi bears the size of mice. She has lived on the East Coast and in Hawaii, and for the last seventeen years in Spokane with her son, two dogs, a hedgehog, and a lot of outdoor gear. She looks for any excuse to play guitar. Jill is married to a performance artist and addiction counselor who makes the best risotto on the planet.

Giraffe People is her third novel. Her first novel, Red Audrey and the Roping, was a Lambda finalist and won the third annual Bywater Prize for Fiction. A Field Guide to Deception, her second novel, was a finalist for the Ferro-Grumley, and won the Lambda Literary Award and the Great Northwest Book Festival.

Giraffe People

Giraffe People

Between God and the army, fifteen-year-old Cole Peters has more than enough to rebel against. But this Chaplain’s daughter isn’t resorting to drugs or craziness. Truth to tell, she’s content with her soccer team and her band and her white bread boyfriend.

And then, of course, there’s Meghan.

Meghan is eighteen years old and preparing for entry into West Point. For this she has sponsors: Cole’s parents. They’re delighted their daughter is finally looking up to someone. Someone who can tutor her and be a friend.

But one night that relationship changes and Cole’s world flips.

Giraffe People is a potent reminder of the rites of passage and passion that we all endure on our road to growing up and growing strong. Award-winning author Jill Malone tells a story of coming out and coming of age, giving us a take that is both subtle and fresh.

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A Field Guide to Deception

A Field Guide to Deception

In Jill Malone’s second novel, A Field Guide to Deception, nothing is as simple as it appears: community, notions of motherhood, the nature of goodness, nor even compelling love. Revelations are punctured and then revisited with deeper insight, alliances shift, and heroes turn anti-hero—and vice versa.

With her aunt’s death Claire Bernard loses her best companion, her livelihood, and her son’s co-parent. Malone’s smart, intriguing writing beguiles the reader into this taut, compelling story of a makeshift family and the reawakening of a past they’d hoped to outrun. Claire’s journey is the unifying tension in this book of layered and shifting alliances.

A Field Guide to Deception is a serious novel filled with snappy dialogue, quick-moving and funny incidents, compelling characterizations, mysterious plot twists, and an unexpected climax. It is a rich, complex tale for literary readers.

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Red Audrey and the Roping

Red Audrey and the Roping

Occasionally a debut novel comes along that rocks its readers back on their heels. Red Audrey and the Roping is one of that rare and remarkable breed. With storytelling as accomplished as successful literary novelists like Margaret Atwood and Sarah Waters, Jill Malone takes us on a journey through the heart of Latin professor Jane Elliot.

Set against the dramatic landscapes and seascapes of Hawaii, this is the deeply moving story of a young woman traumatized by her mother’s death. Scarred by guilt, she struggles to find the nerve to let love into her life again. Afraid to love herself or anyone else, Jane falls in love with risk, pitting herself against the world with dogged, destructive courage. But finally she reaches a point where there is only one danger left worth facing. The sole remaining question for Jane is whether she is willing to accept her history, embrace her damage, and take a chance on love.

As well as a gripping and emotional story, Red Audrey and the Roping is a remarkable literary achievement. The breathtaking prose evokes setting, characters, and relationships with equal grace. The dialogue sparks and sparkles. Splintered fragments of narrative come together to form a seamless suspenseful story that flows effortlessly to its dramatic conclusion.

Winner of the Bywater Prize for Fiction, Red Audrey and the Roping is one of the most memorable first novels you will ever read.

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