Implications Of Mortality

Today I lost a friend of 14 years and her passing leaves another hole in my life.
Sometimes I feel like a slab of Swiss Cheese, more defined by what is not there than what is.

The fact that she had four legs and fur does not lessen the attachment or the sense of loss.
I came to terms with my own mortality half a century ago, but I can never avoid the jolt of others’ mortality, and every loss chips away another little bit of me. If I live long enough, I’ll be ‘all used up’, to quote Utah Phillips.

I don’t mind the bell tolling for me as much as I mind it tolling for those I care about.
Someone remarked that it is not years that age us, but being unable to protect those we love from pain and sorrow.
I can do nothing to protect the family from the sorrow of her passing, but I can at least be grateful that she died at home, pain-free, with loving family instead of having to be put down by a stranger.
Sometimes it’s the small things that matter.

No man is an iland […] any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde”
 – John Donne.

My ‘Mankinde’ consists of more than clothes-wearing primates, but his point is made and I am again diminished.

RIP Penelope Puffbear Quivertail

Thanks to the human heart by which we live,
Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,
To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.

 – William Wordsworth

And I am ashamed when I compare how we feel about about the loss of a dog to how millions feel every day at the loss of parents, children, friends in the insane wars we wage, the killing we do with guns, bombs, drones, sanctions, greed, hatred, impoverishment, lack of common humanity and compassion. There’s nothing I could have done to prevent or even delay Penny’s death. But perhaps it will motivate me to fight a little harder against The Machine.
In her memory.

8 Replies to “Implications Of Mortality”

  1. Another one of the family is gone.
    BooBoo was 3/4 Newfie, 1/4 Lab; a big, gentle bundle of fur we adopted in 2010 when she was 11. She loved nothing more than sharing my wife’s yogurt or ice cream, with a cookie or two thrown in and a lot of hugs and brushing.

    Like most older large dogs, BooBoo had grown progressively more disabled by arthritis and had trouble getting about, but she managed with a bit of help from the two-leggeds. In the last couple of months she weakened to the point she often needed to be lifted to her feet and negotiating the stairs became impossible. I had to carry her up and down, all 90+ pounds of her. In the last few days, it was obvious she wasn’t going to last much longer. She was in considerable pain when trying to walk, and sometimes stumbled and fell from sheer weakness.

    We took her to the vet this afternoon and said goodbye.
    She joins her lifelong buddy Tundra, as well as Penny and Nicky and Simba and Bruno and…. all my dogs, stretching back 70 years.

    And we’re not done yet. We’re looking for another big and furry, but hopefully a bit younger so we’ll have more time with them.
    It’s bad enough losing one every 12-15 years but I just can’t take going through it this often. 🙁

    1. It’s very hard.
      I just have one ancient cat left who’d been very close to a cat that died a couple of years ago. I didn’t feel he could handle the presence of a new younger cat

      Every morning I plead silently and uselessly, “please, not this year” – I’ve also lost three friends and many others are dealing with relatives. It will happen according to its own schedule-
      but I think you’re right not to follow up on losing your heart to another old one right now.

      Still, there is nothing like a new animal, once you’re past childbearing to bring a sense of hope again.

      1. Yes, there is something strangely soothing about furry friends.
        Sooner or later we accept that our children have their own agenda and it’s usually not about giving us a WarmFuzzy.
        I’m fully at peace with the agenda of the four-leggeds – eat, sleep, play, love.

  2. My wife and I rescued a stray from the streets of the Upper West Side in New York in the early 80s – a mutt that looked something like a 3/4 size white wolf. A wonderful friend for 16 years. When I finally had to take her to the vet, she licked my face before she passed away. My current dog, a border collie mutt, is almost 14, so I know she’s heading in the same direction.

    It’s no surprise how deep a bond we share with dogs when you think that the floor of the Chauvet Cave in France revealed footprints of a young boy walking along side a wolf over 30,000 years ago. My condolences for your loss.

  3. We still have two rescued dogs now and have had several others over the years. One was an Old English Sheepdog that had been in a pet store for 5 months and the store was closing. We knew he’d end up in a shelter so we took him. He was the most lovable dog I’ve ever seen, a big furry doofus with a great personality. We ended up giving hm to a friend who had two other OES and large acreage and was able to walk them regularly and let him roam. (He was lost with a herd of sheep but herded people quite well. Just what you needed to corral your guests at a big outdoor party. So much for instinct.)

    We may well visit the local SPCA again, although my wife has been banned from setting foot in another pet store (any guesses on how effective that has been? 🙂 ).

    But I couldn’t help thinking how lucky we are compared to millions of other people in the world when the biggest tragedy of the day is a pet’s death.

    1. On a short term basis, pet grief is the worst grief since they never intentionally do anything to hurt us. It is a profoundly deep relationship but not terribly complex. So you’re hit quickly and very hard. From my experience, pet grief resolves quicker than the loss of a close human. It’s all painful. We are lucky, though, to avoid the exaggerated pain of everyday struggles due to having our country ravaged so some egomaniac can feel “tough.”

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