CLOVER — A beloved family dog named Skeeter was the inspiration for a new children’s book by Clover resident and author Cheryl Thompson.
The book, “Skeeter’s Tomorrow,” introduces readers to Skeeter, an old black lab who always looks forward to tomorrow — the day he knows all his aches and pains will go away.
Skeeter, a once-lively puppy, had grown into his big paws and also learned a lot about life. But according to the story, with that wisdom came pain in his body that keeps Skeeter from playing.
When tomorrow comes, Thompson writes, it’s everything that Skeeter has imagined. He can run around the field, chase a rabbit and play with his old friends as he learns to be as energetic as the pup he once was.
Thompson, 50, a commercial insurance agent in Gastonia, N.C., said she had planned to write a series of children’s stories about her late dog Skeeter and a possum named Scuz. But she said the story morphed into a tale about the loss of Skeeter, who suffered from cancer.
“Like all labs, he was a very energetic dog, and he was our protector,” Thompson said. “He was so smart and so gentle with everything. But when it got to the point of putting him down, he couldn’t stand up without you helping him.”
Thompson said the story — which is about letting go — is a tribute to Skeeter and to her husband of 19 years, Travis, who is portrayed in the book as a character named Gabriel. She said they have two daughters, ages 18 and 12.
“In the grief process that pet owners go through in letting go of animals, the book is written from a dog’s perspective,” Thompson said. “Being euthanized is something he is looking forward to and it’s a pathway to heaven.”
Thompson, who grew up on a farm in Stanly County, N.C., and previously lived in the Blue Ridge Mountains, said she had seen the circle of life. But she said her husband had trouble letting go of Skeeter, which was one reason she wrote the book.
During the time she was writing the book, Thompson said she took a class for caregivers of the terminally ill, who talked about losing their loved ones and the need to let them go.
“It seemed like there was such a need for the terminally ill to be able to know the loved ones can let go,” she said. That acceptance can ease the passing of someone who is dying, she said.
Although the book is about the loss of a pet, she said, it contains themes that also relate to the loss of loved people.
“The intent is for someone who is getting ready to lose a loved one or has lost a loved one,” she said. “You could relate to it if you were losing a grandparent or a mother or a child even.”