Monday, August 1, 2016

The Thing Is... So Wonderfully Created By Kathleen Gerard...

The Thing Is 

to love life, to love it even when
 you have no stomach for it
 and everything you’ve held dear
 crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,
 your throat filled with the silt of it. 
When grief sits with you, 
its tropical heat thickening the air, 
 heavy as water more fit for gills than lungs; 
when grief weights you like your own flesh
 only more of it, an obesity of grief, you think,
 How can a body withstand this? 
Then you hold life like a face
 between your palms, a plain face,
 no charming smile, no violet eyes, 
and you say, yes, I will take you 
I will love you, again. 
—Ellen Bass
Always keep a camera close by at weddings, baptisms, and bar mitzvahs. That was the cardinal rule of survival I’d devised when trying to navigate my life as a shining example of unexpected spinsterhood. The world, I’d learned, traveled in pairs— like Noah’s Ark— or with families. But people, perfumed and ready to party, could never resist mugging for a photo. Latching on to a camera could create a sense of security and purpose, something to hide behind. 
In my case, I had a tendency to cut off people’s heads in pictures. But that didn’t matter. Aiming a camera— a point-and-shoot or even just my smartphone— and pressing the shutter was a simple enough task that could occupy my time while couples were out on the dance floor. The thing was that, after a while, there were only so many pictures to take and so many trips to make to the ladies’ room. At some point during social events, I always found myself alone at my table, surrounded by empty chairs, dirty plates, crumbs, and soiled napkins as I slugged back another sip of wine and wished— wished so hard that it hurt— that they’d hurry up and bring out the cake to signal that the party would soon be over. 
That was the very dilemma I was facing at the bar mitzvah that day. The firstborn son of my old college roommate, Sarah, was celebrating his coming of age, while I was sitting alone at my empty table. I forced an admiring smile as dolled-up couples and pimply-faced teenagers crowded the dance floor, shaking and shimmying to a live rendition of “That’s the Way I Like It.”
At first, I didn’t even realize that Sarah’s youngest, five-year-old Jed Jr.— JJ— had climbed onto the chair next to mine. But when I felt a tug on my sleeve and heard him ask, “How come you don’t have a husband?” his presence was announced, loud and clear. “How come you don’t have a wife?”
I countered. “’ Cause I’m too little,” he said. “What’s your excuse?” 
I laughed. JJ certainly had no inhibitions. And he was a real cutie. His fair skin, disheveled angelic-blond hair, and saucer-like blue eyes guaranteed he’d break hearts someday. “Well, not everyone is married.” “Mommy says your husband died.”
Thanks, Sarah! “He was my fiancé. Not my husband.”
“What’s a fiancé?”
I had to stop and think. Even though I wrote books for a living, award-winning romantic sagas with convoluted plots and subplots, my trying to define the word fiancé for a precocious child was like reconciling the meaning of the universe into a single sound bite. “Well, before people get married, they get engaged, like when a man gives a ring to his future bride. Did you ever hear of that?” 
“Of course. Everybody’s heard of that, dummy.” So much for little Prince Charming! “Well, before the wedding, that’s what a bride or groom is called. After the engagement ring is given, you would say, ‘He’s my fiancé,’ or in your case, you would probably say, ‘She is my fiancée.’”
“How did your fiancé die?” 
What’s taking so long with that damn cake? “Well, the thing is…”

The Thing Is...

By Kathleen Gerard

Our main character, Meredith was struck back...with a flashback to the night her fiancee' was killed. She had been at a bar mitzvah and a young 5-year-old had come to chat. He immediately asked why she wasn't married, supplying part of what he heard, but wanting more information. Meredith was able to keep her balance until he had asked "How did your finance' die? At once, Meredith was back there at the scene!

I know the feeling of flashbacks. Most of mine come during "nightmares" but Meredith could not stop her response to his question...  She was there, that night...  

Kyle and I were having a beautiful, candlelit dinner on the patio at Andrea’s, my favorite Italian restaurant. We watched a mango-colored July sun slip down into the evening sky. Kyle held up his glass. “Happy birthday...  

They had been celebrating her birthday and it had been perfect, so perfect that when they got into the car, they had begun kissing...

And that's when a kid had come up, pounding on the car, telling them to leave and "get a room..." Unfortunately, Kyle thought he had to defend their honor, I guess, because he got out...and soon he was dead...

“From the time he was born, 

he’s been something of a loner.
 Keeps to himself, 
away from the pack.
 I think he’s got an 
independent streak,
 but my husband’s convinced
 he’s a snobbish old soul.”
It had been three years since then, but that one question, which took her mind back to that earlier time, had placed her back into a depression, big-time... She had been closeted for days then weeks...she was behind on her writing schedule and was getting calls about her deadline... Nothing phased her... Until...
With my littermates all squirmy

 and whiny below,

 I snuggled into the indentation 
between Helen’s thighs and
rolled onto my back, 
offering her my belly, 
my moist nose, 
and a doleful gaze.
 “What a handsome little love,”
 she said, her eyes sparkling.

Readers have already met Prozac at the beginning. He is part of a new litter and is now being presented for consideration to a rich, older woman, who immediately falls in love with him...

Meredith's sister started banging on her door, yelling that she was going to call the cops unless she opened up!

The thing was that she wasn't even coming to check on her sister. She was the one in trouble and needed help... She was carrying a moving bag which turned out to be Prozac! Meredith learned that Prozac's owner had been in an accident and that her sister had been charged with finding a temporary home for Prozac... Of course, since Meredith was a writer, always home, and having a dog would not be a big problem, it had resulted in Prozac being "dropped off." Not without complaints and warnings, however.

Meredith at least was good enough to not take her anger at her sister out on the dog... She didn't know that he was a verrrrry special dog... Let's just say for now that he's a loving dog who gets along well with...most...humans...

There are so many adjectives to describe this book--heartwarming, inspirational, humorous, and most of all just plain fun as Meredith and Prozac "try" to begin a life together. Plan on laughing and crying, because, as I said above, Meredith is in the middle of a depressive state. That means, in my own words for a time like that, Meredith wants to be saying, "Leave Me Alone..."

But, really, do you think anybody could leave little Prozac alone?

This is such a special book, and suitable for animal lovers of all ages, especially, if you really don't want a dog messing up your life! Those who have thought of a pet therapy dog might want to consider this a must-read...

Enjoy cause this one's highly recommended.


Kathleen Gerard writes across genres. Her work has been widely published in magazines, journals and anthologies - and has been awarded and nominated for many prizes including The Saturday Evening Post "Great American Fiction" Prize, The Mark Twain House Humor Prize and the Faulkner-Wisdom Prize. Several of Kathleen's essays have been broadcast on National Public Radio (NPR). Her woman-in-jeopardy novel, IN TRANSIT, won The New York Book Festival - "Best Romantic Fiction" category. 

To learn more about Kathleen, visit:

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