This past week I got to witness some dear friends celebrate major accomplishments.
Yesterday my husband and I drove up to the San Luis Rey Mission in Oceanside to watch Louise and Rolly walk across the stage with Faria, the Black Lab puppy they’ve raised the past 18 months for Canine Companions for Independence. Like any graduation ceremony, there was pomp and circumstance and impressive donations, including one from well-known suspense novelist Dean Koontz and his wife for $1 million. Even the dogs barked along with the applauding crowd to show their appreciation.
It takes a great deal of time, money and stamina to raise a puppy specifically to someday be the eyes or ears or arms and legs for someone whose been shortchanged in life. There were sleepless nights as Faria adjusted to her new family, weekly lessons with homework, and, during puberty, there was “Camp Chastity.” Their teenaged son Fabrece sometimes was told to babysit while the couple went out for a few hours. Their other dog Maggie will likely feel the biggest void now that Faria is gone for good. There will be no contact with her former family until she graduates from “college,” when Louise and Rolly will head to somewhere in the southwestern U.S. to ceremoniously turn Faria over to her new companion for life.
A couple of evenings prior, I had the pleasure of joining about 100 others packed into The Book Works in Del Mar as my friend Lee held his first reading and signing for his debut novel. The publication fulfilled a dream that had been decades in the making, and it’s being met with much praise, not just from those who know and love Lee but those who’ve never heard of him. (In my field, it’s called social proof and it’s pretty powerful stuff.) Based on initial reviews, a literary magazine editor has asked the publisher to submit the book for its Book of the Year award. And guess who’s following Lee’s act at that bookstore, whose owner is choosey about fiction writers? None other than Joyce Carol Oates! Yeah, he’s that good.
Neither Louise nor Lee reached this week without sacrifice, determination and the love and understanding of others caught up in their orbit. I’d suggest we all maybe sip vicariously from the successes of those who’ve recently realized a lifetime goal. Maybe it’s something significant, maybe it’s just being able to sit peacefully to a nice meal with a roof still overhead.
Whatever it is, I’m told it tastes pretty darn good.