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.
Looking upon 2013 so far makes me realize what an amazing year it has been. And this is in spite of the moments I’d cry by myself, wishing I were dead, or laying in bed for hours believing I wouldn’t be able to do anything that I loved without screwing it up. I know it’s insane to say 2013 is great when I spend a good deal of my time depressed, irritable, sometimes hopeless, sometimes sad. How is it possible for me to be able to look back upon all of this and go, “Well, this year has, in fact, been pretty incredible.”
I’ll tell you why: not only have I changed my thinking, about the way I view my depression, but I’m learning to let the good things outweigh the bad.
For some reason most of us want the bad to outweigh the good. We look at one tragedy caused by one or two people and are sickened by the human race. But we don’t look at the countless scores of people reaching out and helping in the midst of tragedy. This is the kind of thinking I’m changing. Tragedies are tragedies and are heartrending and make me wonder how another human being could do that to someone (because, by my nature, I love people), but then there are so many people doing so many good things each and every day.
In any case, why am I no longer letting my depression rule me? Is it because I am no longer depressed? Not necessarily. I still have problems with irritability, but I’m giving myself reasons to wake up so I don’t find myself trapped in bed until 12: mainly this blog, thinking of strong content to pound out, and advancing my writing career. These are phenomenal reasons for me to wake up earlier than I usually do. I’ve been waking up at 9 when I normally wake up at 12. And that’s good, because before I let depression drown me, 8 or 9 o’clock was my wake-up time. I couldn’t physically sleep in any later until depression struck.
So what are some of the good things that have happened to me this year that are keeping me from drowning?
I was chosen to dance in Columbia County’s ‘Roar of Love.’ I was stunned. I hadn’t been there in almost two months due to psychiatric visits and my health, and here I was being asked to perform three roles, two of which were en pointe, one of which is for girls above my level. Not only was I overjoyed, but it was a compliment to my skills to put me in three roles when I wasn’t present for a good bit of the first part of the ballet school year. I mean, I came back after all the hospitalizations and hadn’t lost anything, not my strength or technique, and I was so worried about those two things.
But dancing in a recital was a dream come true, especially because there is no true adult ballet program in my area and so I have to dance with kids–but I love the girls I dance with and wouldn’t leave them for any adult ballet program. Even though I was still trapped in the web of depression, going to ballet helped immensely with my mood, and I always left chipper and with a renewed sense of self-esteem. And even though I woke up the next day, and the day after that, and so on and so forth, wondering how ballet could help my dark mood, it always did.
What else is great about 2013?
Well, that is a secret. But I can tell you I’m proud of myself for getting back into writing, being able to blog as much as I am, getting back into my literary magazine; I freaking registered for fall classes, I’m going to pick up more hours at work, and I’m going to do a ballet summer intensive among other *hush*surpsingthings*hush*. Now if my depression starts flaring doing all these things, I’ll slow down. I mean, frankly, I’m writing all of this in the heat of excitement. Even depressed people experience situational joy from time to time. But I’m going to keep up the positive thinking even when I feel like crap. As I’ve said before, I can’t change the way I feel, but I can change the way I think.
I can’t wait to tell you all what this surprise is though!