Saturday, May 02, 2009

Marley & Me and Me

I gave in.

Despite the fact that I knew what would happen, I watched Marley & Me. By the way, spoiler alert, in case you haven't seen the movie, read the book, or heard about it from any of your friends who cried their eyes out.

The first time I saw a trailer for Marley & Me it looked like one of those cute movies that would just give you cavities with how sweet it was. From the trailer, one can assume you're going to span the entire life of the dog. John and Jenny get Marley not long after they're married, and as the family grows, so does the dog. Of course, the trailer tries to get you to focus on the fact that the dog is a troublemaker, but is still incredibly lovable. They try to distract you from the fact that dogs have a somewhat limited lifespan.

Of course Marley eventually dies. If you didn't realize that was coming then I'm talking to you. How did people not know that was gonna happen? I don't mean to be insensitive to this fact, it's just a fact of life that seemed to catch a lot of movie-goers off guard. I even had a co-worker at the time say that she never would have taken her daughter to see it if she'd known about the sad ending. Really?

I think this kind of story is important for little kids to see. Death is a natural part of life. Losing a pet is a much easier way to reveal that little fact to a kid than waiting until a grandparent or even a parent passes away. It doesn't always happen this way, but why not have your kids watch a movie where a beloved family pet dies? True, it's heart-wrenching, but it's a movie and you can disconnect yourself from the story on the screen.

I didn't cry. Much. I mean, I teared up toward the end. There were no full-on sobs. I've never been through that kind of thing. I've lost a parent and a couple of grandparents, but I've never lost a pet to death. Growing up, my family had three dogs. The first we gave away because we were moving into an apartment. The other two we were forced to give up because we had a psychotic neighbor who hated dogs. In the latter case, we decided it was better to give them new homes rather than wait for the crazy old man to poison them.

That being said, I've never had a dog for its entire life. I was so young when we got rid of Sandy, I don't remember much about him. We had Princess and Duchess for several years during the 90s, but they were gone before I graduated from high school. So that life-long attachment that many people get to feel for their dogs, I never felt. I missed them when they were gone, but it didn't break my heart.

The movie was good, and as I guessed from the preview, it was cute. In the end, it was a little depressing, but that's to be expected. In a lot of ways, that's life. We have so many great moments in our lives. We have moments with our families that we get to look back on one day and laugh. We can cry for some of those moments too. Life isn't about getting a happy ending, it's about the moments that matter before the ending comes to us.

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