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.
16 thoughts on “An Existential Tragedy”
As i get older, just like everyone else, more and more of my loved ones leave this world. They have left huge “scars of existence” on my heart that I suffer from every day. Painful but unavoidable. Loss is a part of our lives, however, very hard to accept.
Your kitty is cute. 🙂 I completely get your cat-love. I have two that will turn six later this summer, so I should have lots of years of loving them left yet.
I’m not looking forward to those days I steadily start losing people I have known and loved, but, at the same time, I’m hoping I’ll be prepared and that I can handle it.
My kitty’s seven, so she still has years left in her yet, too. I also have another dog. An 11-year-old brat that, on occasion, I have wished we didn’t have, but she’s still in my heart too.
Amber, I’m so sorry for your loss. It’s never easy letting go, even if you’ve known for a long time that’s it inevitable. We’ve run the gamut with some of our cats, from slow decline that finally led to that phone call to the vet to the sudden shock of feeling you don’t have enough time to say goodbye. I know it’s little comfort to think of your dog as at peace, but it does sound like he had a good life among a caring, loving family. I hope you have many, many years with Neko. Big hug.
I only “liked” the post because I admire your ability to express your loss. I am so very sorry, loss of any kind brings up all sorts of thoughts/feelings. My thoughts and prayers are with you and yours! ❤
Thank you very much.
Amber animals have a special place in our hearts and I understand your pain. They are like part of our family or best friends, only friends that never judge us and except us warts and all. I am sorry for your loss. Losing pets also helps us to deal with grief and loss and when it comes to family members, it gets even harder, I lost my brother to suicide, due to depression as you know, yet I understand why he made that decision and still love and miss him everyday. I have just finished reading Proof of Heaven a neurosurgeon’s journey from this life and back again and it gave me hope that I will one day see my brother again. Through the pain of loss I became more appreciative of this life and living it for both of us and in those tough times you must stay close to the ones left behind and be strong together. Thank you for being so honest about how you feel, you are definitely not alone.
Losing that little dog has definitely made me more appreciative of this life and its fragility. It as also terrified me because of how desperately I wanted to die at one point during my depressive episode. That’s why death shakes me to the core–because if it weren’t for my own strength, I might not be here. Even now I’m choking up as I read your words.
Amber coming from someone who lost a talented individual through depression, just know, you are meant to be here fighting the fight and when the tough times come know you have family that would do anything for you, and the blogging community too, yet I understand your pain, my sister still fights the same fight every day, she is my hero as are you. Young and talented and so much to give, so remember N is for never give up and yes you are Strong, you have already been through it, so take faith in knowing you are able to get through by sharing your pain. My brother did not tell anyone how much pain he was going through. Warm hugs to you, you are amazing just the way you are (Bruno Mars).
I have nominated you for the “Shine On Blogger Award” should you chose to accept this award, which I hope you do, but if not that’s okay too! Then check out my post! http://followyourheartandlifewillfollow.wordpress.com/2013/06/25/shine-on-blogger-award/ Happy blogging!
Thank you so much! And of course I accept!
You are very welcome! 🙂
My condolences on your loss. =(
Thank you. It’s been tough, but I’ve luckily been managing.
I am sorry for your loss and have been through this with my first cat. Just be kind to yourself at this time…..
peace and light, linda
I’m so sorry, Amber. I have two cats and two dogs and the thought of losing them terrifies me. Two years ago, my parents lost their dog and it hit them really hard. I often remind them to focus on the 14 years that they had with Licorice. It reminds me of the saying- Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.
I am feeling better, but I still choke up when I think about that little dog. But you are right. Our furry friends change us in good ways, so they definitely leave something amazing behind when it’s time for them to leave us. But, yes, the thought of losing my cat terrifies me because I know I’m going to be a mess when she goes. Her and I are ridiculously close.