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We are never so defenseless against suffering as when we love.
-Sigmund Freud, courtesy of litquotes.com
Edgar has arrived, dear reader. He has come to spend Mother’s Day with me. I was glad to have him, as Mother’s Day always makes me thoughtful. For so long, I was convinced that our mother was guilty of Edgar’s death, back when I thought of him as Orange Boy. (See “The Sun Sets on Orange Boy” and earlier posts)
My mother. She was beautiful, wasn’t she? She was powerful, fast, and agile. She was fierce, but she was loving, too. I remember her warmth and her rough affection. She wanted us to be tough, too. For a long time, I did not understand her. For a short time, after Edgar disappeared but before I was adopted by Man and Woman, I was a little bit afraid of her, despite the love I had for her and my dependence upon her.
She did attack Edgar, and Edgar was small and fuzzy and defenseless, as I was. I know now, and I try to understand–she was only doing what her instincts told her, which was that Edgar was the weakest–that he had been chosen, not by her, but by nature as one who would not survive. Thus, she would have ended his suffering and would have carried out a sentence which was not her own, but which was imposed upon them both.
Edgar arrived at my home after Woman and Man had gone to bed, and the two of us lay down together in the living room, cuddling as we had when we were young.
“Do you hate her?” I asked Edgar.
“No. For awhile I did. I could not understand what she had done, and I was on my own, just past infancy and without many survival skills. I believe, though, if she could see me now, she would think that I am much stronger than she thought I was then.”
“You’ve become stronger than any of us,” I said. “I don’t know where our brothers and sisters are, but I know that you are stronger than I am. She did not know what she did.”
Edgar whined and snuggled closer.
“Edgar, where have you been? I’ve been worried,” I told him.
“Let’s speak of it tomorrow, Humphrey. Is that all right?”
In answer, I snuggled closer to my brother and we slept as we had long ago when we were much smaller and our voices were much squeakier and the world was tinier and seemed perfectly safe.
Though neither of us had seen our biological mother in years, I had found another mother in Woman, as I had found a father in Man, though the relationships now were a bit more complicated. When I was young, they cared for me and taught me as parents should, but of course, now, I am their protector, and I know secrets that they do not dream of.
I thought of the special bond I shared with Man and Woman and how they even let me sleep with them on their bed sometimes. It was at those times that I particularly felt that warm, den feeling that I’d felt as a tiny puppy, surrounded by siblings and watched over by our mother. I felt sorry for Edgar, who had no permanent home and no Man or Woman, but could only visit those he loved, like me and perhaps Mr. Bailey and perhaps…Maggie. I understood, I thought, why he wanted to sleep one night in our home, curled up in family warmth that was only a memory to him on the eve a day meant to honor the bond between mothers and their puppies.