This is Oscar. I took the photo when I was dog sitting. As you can see, Oscar was enjoying the warm Colorado sun.
Oscar lived across the street. Until last Thursday. His body couldn’t go on. Age and disease had taken their toll.
I liked Oscar and his brother Milo a lot. Milo is still across the street, living with our dear friends. I wonder about Milo. Every day of his life had been spent with his brother. Until now.
The thing about pets I dislike is their lifespans. They’re significantly shorter than humans’, which means, if you have pets, you’ll end up burying quite a few.
I hate death. Even if it’s the death of a pet. But I particularly hate death when it takes a family member or friend. Or a hero. In my case, it was Roberto Clemente. I still feel the pain of his death 45 years later.
I know people who could never get over the death of a spouse or child. Some people seem to give up their will to live after the loss of a spouse. Death is that powerful.
I don’t handle death well. The sense of loss I experience is immense. It’s always an intense emotional time. Yet it is our lot as humans to experience the sting of death. If we live long enough, we’ll have experienced it quite a few times. It never gets any easier, at least not for me.
But at least with age we know that time heals — usually.
Usually, the pain dissipates with time. But, often, not completely. Often, there remains a hole in one’s heart that never completely heals.
It all seems a bit irrational to me. After all, death is inevitable. The only variables are time, place and manner. You’d think it wouldn’t be as big a deal as it is. But it is.
You’ll end up being hurt by death some day, Vera. Perhaps the first time will involve a pet. It will hurt. It will hurt even more if it’s a person who’s close to you, whom you love dearly.
I can’t do or say anything to make it any easier. All I can tell you is that there are worse things in life.
Can you image not feeling such pain or experiencing such loss? Think what that would mean.
When I experience the sting of death, I try to remind myself to be grateful — to be grateful that the deceased, whether it was a person or pet, was part of my life. I remind myself of the good memories. The good times.
Nothing is certain, but the odds are high that I’ll die before you. In a couple of generations after that, no one will remember me. Eventually, I’ll be nothing more than a name on a family tree, assuming any of my descendants have an interest in genealogy. We’re like footprints in the sand at the beach. Eventually, the tide erases all evidence of their existence.
That doesn’t bother me. But what would bother me is if I didn’t leave any good memories behind with you.
We’re going to have some good times. We’re going to create some good memories together. And when my time comes, it may hurt. You may hate death as much as I do. But, hopefully, those memories also will bring a smile to your face. And a warm feeling. And you’ll know that it’s O.K.
P.S. Oscar was a very special dog. He’ll be missed.