Cronus knew he was destined to be killed by his son, so as his children were born, he swallowed them up. Apparently this upset their mother, so before he could eat the last one, she switched the soft squishy baby with a rock, which Cronus gobbled up without notice. Too bad for him. That baby, Zeus, grew up to be no less than king of the gods and, true to destiny, the end of Cronus.
Back in the day, Zeus had many roles: God of Thunder, Ruler of the Sky, Vanquisher, Peacemaker, Lover, Rapist, and Father of Gods, Heroes, and Muses. He was Top Dog.
My family first met Zeus a little over seven years ago. He came to us in the form of a young puppy, hardly the stuff of legends. He didn’t even have any balls. We had just moved into our new home, a new marriage, and a new idea about family. We weren’t sure who we would be to each other. It was an exciting time.
Faced with a new situation, many of us must make an effort to discover our role. Sometimes we have to earn our role or claim it before it’s taken from us. Tending the fragility of new relationships, we weigh our interests, our values, and our past mistakes to make what we hope will be righteous choices. We cringe with our failures. We revel in our delicious successes. We take small steps, assess, make plans, and take a few more small steps. We slowly grow into our new selves.
In contrast, there are those who immediately and fully embody a new role with grace and ease. For our Zeus, performance was effortless, goals were invisible and accomplishments unmistakable.
Teach the young girl to stride her world with pride and authority.
Tame the man’s broken heart with a bottomless well of forgiveness.
Bestow the reluctant caregiver with purpose and clarity.
Glue the family together.
Not bad for a life’s work.
Last night Zeus’s heart stopped. I knew it was going to stop. The kind servants we hired to help with his end told us it was about to stop. I placed my hand on his chest so I could feel it stop.
But knowing isn’t believing.
I didn’t believe his heart
would ever stop.
Zeus, Vanquisher, Lover, Peacemaker, Teacher, Healer, Muse, I am now a believer. The instant your heart stopped my heart broke open and leaked all over. It leaked onto your warm, still body, all over the floor, all over the sidewalk and street outside. I could hold it together with my disbelief, but when your heart stopped, there was nothing to keep mine from falling apart, no beating from your chest, no hot breath across your soft lips and tongue, nothing to push against my arms as I carried your limp body to the car and buried my face in your neck.
I believe. I believe. I believe. You are gone, and I will never be the same.
Farewell sweet boy.
You left the world a better place.
What would it be,
to believe as much,