When you watch the movie Marley and Me, you just know how it’s going to end even if you didn’t read the book. It’s so much more than the humorous story about to the family dog that misbehaves a lot. It’s a tribute to a pet long since gone. And by gone (spoiler alert) that means he eventually dies.
However, the scene that gets to me every time is the scene toward then end when they are living on the farm in Pennsylvania. The scene when the old arthritic Marley tries to walk up the stairs of the family home and it's a big struggle.
I knew how this movie ended and it was far too close to our own reality at the time. Grief came in a tidal wave in the darkened theater.
At the same time the movie came out, I was living with my own aging pet – Scarlett the cat. She was almost 18 and like Marley was arthritic. She was so arthritic that we had started to call her Frankenstein cat because that is exactly how she moved…that stiff Frankenstein walk. Marley’s slow walk up the steps was our reality everyday.
At this point in her life, our house had become handi-cat accessible. We had stairs leading up to the bed so she could still sleep with us. There were ramps leading to her favorite chair perches. We had heated beds to warm her creaky bones. All the creature comforts to keep our little creature comfortable as long as we could.
So, here we were at the family Christmas movie watching Marley and Me. And, here was another senior pet creaking away with carefully measured steps walking toward the end. It was just too much.
When we bring a pet into our home, whether it’s a mischievous puppy like Marley or a more reserved kitten like Scarlett or a senior pet….we are looking forward to a long happy life. And you know what, no matter how long they are with us - a few months or almost 20 years – it just isn’t enough.
So, as Marley creaked toward his own ending, I thought about my own sweet girl creaking toward her own final chapter in our lives. I didn’t know at that point if Scarlett would be with us a few months or a few more years. We had already lost her brother two years earlier.
Watching this one scene in the movie really drove it all home. Her time was almost up, just like Marley. The little kitten that picked me was much closer to the Rainbow Bridge than I wanted to consider. And…I was a puddle of blubber at the movie theater.
The movie came to its sad conclusion a few scenes later. We were lucky enough to have our senior girl with us for nearly two more years. I stopped to appreciate her as much as I could from that moment on as I prepared for what was to come. Thanks to that little scene in the movie…I savored those moments as much as I could.
Scarlett has been gone over three years now. I watch Marley and Me whenever it comes on TV…but not that scene. Three years later, I still can’t take the pain of watching that short little scene that triggers the beginning of the end of any pet’s story.
This post is a part of ChicagoNow's monthly Blogapalooza Hour. The writers at ChicagoNow are given a topic and one hour to write. This month's topic is: Write about a character or scene in a movie or book that affected you in some way.
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