She sat with Ash's head in her lap, running her hand down the once-sleek jowl and throat, now harsh with dry, staring hair. Don't die, she thought. Don't die. There's already little enough of me; if you leave me, the piece of me you'll take with you might be the end of me, too.
She must have fallen asleep, and and the fire begun to smoke, for the room became full of roiling grey, and ten the grey began to separate itself into black and white, and the black and white began to shape itself into an outline, although within the outline the black and white continued to chase each other into a mesmerizing, indecipherable pattern, as if light and shadow fell on some swift-moving thing, like water or fire. And the Moonwoman said, "Ash is fighting her way back to you, my dear; I believe she will make it, because she believes it herself. She is an indomitable spirit, your dog, and she will leave you so long as you hold her as you hold her now, begging her to stay. She will this battle because she can conceive of no other outcome."
The Moonwoman's seemed to fall, black and white, in Lissar's ears; she heard them as if they were spoken twice, as if they had two distinct meanings; and she recognised each of the meanings.
"Do not be to hard on yourself," said the Moonwoman, reading her mind, or the black and white shadows on her own face. "It is a much more straighforward thing to be a dog, and a dog's love, once given, is not reconsidered; it just is, like sunlight or mountains. It is for human beings to see the shadows behind the light, and the light behind the shadows. It is perhaps why dogs have people and people have dogs.
"But, my dear, my poor child, don't you understand that healing carries its own responsiblities? Your battle was from death to life no less than Ash's is now; would you deny it? But you have not excepted your own gift to yourself, your gift or your own life. Ash is looking forward to running in meadows agian; can you not give yourself leave to run though meadows too?"
Lissar woke, finding herself crying, and finding Ash, rolled up on her belly to her side, where she had lain for so many helpless days, feebly licking the hands where the tears fell.
taken from Deerskin by Robin McKinley
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