Writing Words With the Tips of My Toes
Yesterday my mom brought our dog of seventeen years to the vet and had him put down. The major reason he was put down is that he wasn’t eating. He hadn’t eaten for a week. Not only that, but he was basically blind and confused and likely dealing with a mind that was deteriorating. It was a sudden decision–he hadn’t eaten that morning. But it was heartbreaking to hear that that would be the last day he was going to remain alive.
I wasn’t close to him–not anymore, anyway–not since my cat Neko came into my life. I’m not going to lie and say I feel bad for drifting away from him, because I don’t. It was mostly his ungodly body odor that kept me at bay, but I never once wished we didn’t have him anymore. He was close to my mom, and that was good enough for me. I still paid attention to him, but most of my attention has gone to my cat, as she is attached to me and I attached to her, and we practically demand each other’s attention.
Unfortunately, I myself don’t have any picture of my dog. But he was a cocker spaniel/beagle mix.
But it was so hard just knowing he would no longer simply be at 5:30 PM. I was a sobbing wreck yesterday, even though I kept all of my feelings to myself. I’m trying so hard not to sob as I write this, in fact. In spite of no longer being as close as I once was to that little dog, he still left paw prints on my heart, prints that will remain until I die because the heart is a muscle strengthened by the good things in life, and he was one of those good things.
To be honest though, I’d been waiting for him to die simply because his life has been so hard for the past two years. He just stayed in bed…all the time. It’s tragic that death is the only solution to release him from his suffering. It’s what suicidal people feel. It’s what I felt at one point. And that’s the tragedy of existence, that at some point in our lives we’re going to want to die, either because of some crippling disease or because old age has become so painful that there is no current solution to make it otherwise. At the same time, life is still so very precious. It’s so precious that sometimes we just have to let it go.
I don’t know if there is an after for a dog. I don’t know if there’s an after for people. I’m also not going to say there isn’t because I don’t know. I just don’t know. What gets me most though is when people like to tell us that those who die are in a better place. Why can’t our current reality be that better place? Why don’t we make our current reality that better place?
I suppose I’m just troubled. Death is a strange concept to me, a concept I will honestly never understand. It was so weird looking at the deceased body of my dog and touching him and still feeling that lingering warmth. One moment he was alive and the next gone. It doesn’t make sense to me, but there it is. I will never understand death, and that’s all there is to it. I don’t deal well with death. I guess that’s just who I am.
However, I think the biggest tragedy of existence is that we form bonds with things we know are going to die. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green talked about how we leave scars of existence on each person. Some of us leave deeper scars than others. Some of us try to leave the shallowest scars we can, but most of us don’t think about what it means to bond with another person and animal –and I suppose that’s a good thing because it means we’re thinking about the here and now.
I think a lot. I think too much. Sometimes I think about what it’s going to mean when my cat dies, what it means when anybody I love dies. Other times, I try not to think about it. But yesterday I knew that my cat had left the deepest scars possible because she hasn’t just left paw prints on my heart, but in my heart and my blood and all around me. I feel like that when she dies, I won’t be able to function for a bit because she’s not just a pet to me–she’s a practical friend who has been there through my best and worst and has not once ever hated me for anything I’ve done to her that could have been hurtful. She is so forgiving.
But I suppose I should just accept that death is the most nonsensical thing in the world to me. Science can explain it, but the emotions can’t grasp it.