Dear Jon Snow,
Regrets. I have a few when it comes to you.
On Sundays, you own me. You are the new and true King in the North. And, on the first day of the week, the King Of This House.
“There are five pups. One for each of the Stark children. The direwolf is the sigil of your house. They were meant to have them.”
You were the one who recognized the sign from the Old Gods; the Stark children were meant to take in the pups. You claimed the runt who turned out to be the biggest badass of them all, his growth cleverly mirroring yours.
You were right: every child should have a dog.
I did not when I was growing up, and feel a deep sense of injustice. It wasn’t until 11 years ago that our first pup found us. Suddenly showed up one night on our doorstep and stayed forever, making our lives infinitely better. The love of Man’s Best Friend is pure and powerful and golden. But you know that. Yours is Ghost. We call ours Lexx.
For some reason, our otherwise docile and mellow pup chooses our favorite night of the week to go completely bananas. He saves all his energy for Sunday nights, and Sunday nights only, and unleashes it the second we settle on the couch in front of the TV. He stands in front of us, barking like mad, demanding we get off our asses and play chase this instant. His timing is utterly baffling. Your Ghost is more dignified wolf than goofy dog. Ours is not.
Though amusing at first, his antics become tiresome as your story becomes more and more captivating. You. Bastard who rose high in the world. Humble. Kind. Primal. Loyal. Beautiful. Burner of wights. Master of Longclaw. Destroyer of White Walkers. Friend to the lost and fat and cowardly: the Pypars, Grenns, and Samwell Tarlys of your world. Lover to Wildling. Mercy killer of Mance. Bestie of Tormund. Defender against grumpkins and snarks and all the other monsters your wet nurse warned you about. Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. And, for now at least, King in the North. You command all of our attention.
You, The Captain Picard of Westeros, could hold court with Katniss Everdeen. And Jason Bourne. Neo. Frodo. Atticus Finch. Rocky Balboa.
So much more than a bastard boy who wants to play at war.
The Prince who was promised.
You are the White Wolf.
All hero, all the time.
As your story evolves and the stakes grow higher and higher, Lexx turns up the volume of his shenanigans, so we start locking him outside. To run around by himself with no one to chase him. He always looks so confused as the sliding doors close in his face. He remains there, alone, without a playmate, until he calms down.
But then you die, Jon Snow.
My hero. Dead.
Your Ghost howled in mourning for you. You, in the afterworld without the wolf who makes you stronger. Without the wolf who always has your back. Ghost, alone in the gloomy Castle Black without his beloved master. You were supposed to be together, always.
When Melisandre brought you back, my favorite part was seeing you reunite with your Ghost.
You came back.
But now my Ghost is a ghost.
We were supposed to be together, always.
I look at Lexx’s photo and can’t believe he is gone. Gone like Lady and Grey Wind and Shaggydog and Summer. But he was real and they were not.
I look at his photo and whisper how sorry I am for moments I wasted apart from him, when I should have clung to every second he blessed this house and this earth. My boy, whose absence is felt in deep crevices of my soul that I didn’t even know existed. This must mean that I loved him in every deep crevice. I hope he knows how profoundly I loved.
As I am writing this letter to you, like magic, his new little sister, Sydney, comes up to me and licks the tears from my face. And — sappy me — I cannot help but think that, at this moment, he sent her to me to do just that.
Sent her to tell me it’s okay. To not rot over the many hours that my loyalty to you took me away from him.
To tell me to let Sydney eat the tears, to forgive myself, to think of all the time we did spend together, chasing one another around the pool.
How I would start each and every day by massaging his aging muscles and rolling around with him on the floor, seeing, from the white hairs that peppered his muzzle, that our days together were numbered.
To tell me it’s okay that, while you were being a hero to me, I wasn’t being a hero to him.
To tell me that it’s okay that he was always my Ghost, but I was not always his Jon Snow. That, except for you, we are not heroes all the time.
And to tell me that we’re all cool now, because this love letter is really for him, not for you.
He tells me it’s time to let go of the regrets. But I will likely always have a few when it comes to you.