Stories of love and rescue
Recently, a Wisconsin-based photographer’s unusual, poignant picture went viral: a dog named Schoep asleep in the arms of his father, John Unger, in the warm waters of Lake Superior. Stonehouse Photography’s caption on Facebook reads: “This 19 year old Schoep being cradled in his father’s arms last night in Lake Superior. Schoep falls asleep every night when he is carried into the lake. The buoyancy of the water soothes his arthritic bones. Lake Superior is very warm right now, so the temp of the water is perfect. I was so happy I got to capture this moment for John. By the way, John rescued Schoep as an 8 month old puppy, and he’s been by his side through many adventures.” The picture has been shared over 190,000 times on Facebook.
If I even think about this image, I get teary-eyed. Why? Is it because such pictures give us hope, reminding us that love can cross all barriers? In a world full of sad, horrifying news, we cherish heartwarming stories of unconditional love and trust.
Maybe the picture is cathartic, too. It’s clear that Schoep and John mean the world to each other, that the photograph captures a fleeting, peaceful moment; that Schoep is in the twilight of the incredible life he has shared with John. Our arthritic old kitty, Luna, has taken to sleeping on a soft pillow next to my head at night, to cushion her bones. Sometimes she wakes me by pushing her nose into my ear. I don’t like to think about her getting old. She’s warm, furry, and soft, and she purrs at the slightest provocation. She rests her paw on my arm whenever she can. I can’t imagine life without her. My husband and I rescued her from a shelter when she was only a few months old, and she has loved us ever since. Her unwavering affection has helped us to deal with the loss of others we’ve loved. She makes us laugh with her silly antics and grating meow.
Through the many hand-wringing rewrites of my latest novel, ENCHANTING LILY, I sought to convey a similar theme to the reader – the power of unconditional love to help us heal, even in the face of incredible loss. When a bedraggled white kitty runs into her vintage clothing store, Lily, a grieving young widow, has no intention of adopting an animal. She’s content to wallow in memories of her husband. But the kitty, Luna, has other plans, and she slowly helps Lily emerge from her isolation and embrace life again.
While I fretted about how to add conflict to a scene, or how to hone the cat’s voice, or how to end the book on an uplifting but realistic note, I was really aiming for something simple and universal: a hopeful story of rescue, love, and possibility.
Anjali Banerjee was born in India, raised in Canada and California and received degrees from the University of California, Berkeley. She has written five novels for youngsters and four for grownups, including ENCHANTING LILY, now available from Berkley/Penguin. Romantic Times magazine has given ENCHANTING LILY a top rating of 4.5 stars: ”This is a wonderful story with lovable characters who are trying to start fresh after tragedy touches their lives. Readers will fall head over heels for a four-legged character who almost upstages the two-legged leads.”