When I first wrote The Tail of Scarlett, I was still in the clutches of the grieving process (and I guess in some ways I still am), even though it had already been a year since the actual Scarlett had passed.
Scarlett passed away in January of 2015 after she began showing signs of neurological damage. It was one of those things that just came up extremely sudden without any previous warning signs whatsoever. On Christmas morning she threw up violently in the living room and in the days afterwards she began a sudden decline to the point where it was scary. At 13 years of age I knew that Scarlett was no spring chicken, but up until this point in time she had exhibited no physical signs of illness (either mentally or physically). Suddenly she was refusing food, even getting up and walking away from her most favorite of treats. Over the next few days family members would catch her staring off into space, head tilted to the side, and when she stood up we noticed her leaning. A few days before she passed I gave her a bath (a very enjoyable past time for both me and her. Often, all I would have to do was look at her and say, “bath time!” or “time for bath!” and she would head into the bathroom. Then I would look at her and say, “get in the tub!” opening the shower door as I did and watching her walk right in without complaint.) Everything went as it always did until the very end. When it was time to for her to exit the shower, Scarlett proceeded to shake off all of the excess water as she always did (usually drenching the entire bathroom in the process while I stood somewhat shielded behind the shower door), but as she did so she fell and was unable to get up without help. She did it again when she exited the bathroom and once again I had to come to her aid and help her back to her feet.
It’s always hard, seeing your loved ones struggle like that (pet or human), especially when you know that they are not capable of talking. I decided to go to Scarlett’s veterinarian and he was extremely honest with me, something that I was actually kind of grateful for. He told me that a pet could be sick and the homeowners could spend boatloads of money to have them tested for all kinds of things only to find out that it’s something that cannot be cured to be begin with. “Sometimes I just want to reach across this exam table and strangle them saying, ‘what the hell is wrong with you?'” Because clearly the animal was suffering and its quality of life was at stake, but yet the homeowners were unwilling to let go. As much as I loved Scarlett I didn’t want that for her. “She’s already at the top of the slide,” I said. “I don’t want her to hit bottom.” And I didn’t, not when it meant that I would have to watch her suffer.
Sometime after she passed and I was still struggling to find ways to cope with the loss, one of my good friends lost her cat whom she had for about the same amount of time I had my Scarlett and I think it was then that I realized more than ever the importance of having some sort of support system which is what in turn gave me a big dose of the inspiration that I needed in order write Scarlett’s book. I thought that I could use The Tail of Scarlett as a way to help others who might very well be going through the same thing that I was. I actually, in fact, had three huge doses of inspiration: 1.) Scarlett of course. 2.) Wanting to find a way to help others. 3.) Someone who I consider a friend of mine wrote and published her own book not to long ago: Jeffrey Takes a Walk in December written by Karin Konoval is a wonderful book that I think every person should read (the link to check it out can be found here: http://www.friesenpress.com/bookstore/title/119734000025985197/Karin-Konoval-Jeffrey-Takes-a-Walk-in-December). When deciding how I was going to format the book
I decided that it would be a great idea to go with a children’s book, because it was then that I remembered my niece who was only 5. Scarlett was her friend too, and I remembered that when loved ones die it’s not only the adults in the family that are effected when it comes to loss.
I think my point for this post is that I do hope that those that are reading this realize something: you are not alone in your loss, that it’s perfectly okay to grieve, that, no, you are not crazy, and that it is important for people to have a support system during the difficult times. Which is also why I created this blog. I not only wanted to have a place to, hopefully, be able to promote my book, but I also wanted to establish a place that people could come to and seek solace. Because, The Tail of Scarlett is not just well…the tale of Scarlett, but I also think that it is the tale of every pet owner and their animal companions.
Please feel free to leave me a comment as I absolutely love hearing from readers. And please feel free to share! Share your own stories about memories of an animal that may have touched your life in some way, it doesn’t matter. I want to hear’em all. And one last thing before I go: The Tail of Scarlett has now been listed on Goodreads! If you’ve never been on Goodreads you need to! It’s a great website for book lovers where you can go and rate/review books, join groups and have discussions. It’s also great if you’re an author who is looking to gather bigger followings for your book. So please, head on over there and follow me and, if you have purchased The Tail of Scarlett and read it (and hopefully enjoyed it), please feel free to leave me an honest review. You can also ask me questions directly and I will do my best to answer them.
And remember, always keep your tail waggin’!
(This blog post is dedicated to all of those times that I heard the sound of a to-go box being chased across the kitchen floor as Scarlett enjoyed leftover biscuits and gravy for breakfast.)