Life and Death Meet in a Vet Clinic

Lots of big dogs in here today, I thought, as I sat in the waiting room of the Veterinary Specialty & Emergency Center in Leavittown this afternoon. That Bernese mountain dog is huuuge!

Two men with a large, black dog, maybe a lab. A woman and her two young children with her cocker spaniel. Only one other person in here with a cat. It’s a dog day, for sure.

My eyes were suddenly drawn to the front doors, where, just outside, five people had gathered and seemed to be crying. A couple, with their teenage son and two older daughters, who had come in separate cars, met at the door. Yes, they were crying, dabbing tears with tissues.

I watched everyone hug, and then the dad entered with a pudgy, beige dog trailing behind. It was old and seemed frail. It had a bandaged foreleg and walked with a limp. The dad walked straight back to the clinical rooms. The mother, who entered behind the dog, stopped at the desk for a few moments, dabbing her eyes. The daughters and son remained outside, seeming to console one another. The boy was mostly silent and lost unto himself.

I suspect everyone witnessing the scene knew exactly what was happening. The old dog’s time had come to an end.

Putting a beloved pet to death is a sorrowful task and as inevitable as our own demise, and as many times as I’ve had to do it, the task never gets any easier. I find those final moments — from a distance only — to be unique moments in life. It is there that we see death in all its raw power, emanating from a decision that we, ourselves, have made. We, ourselves, are causing this animal’s death. The vet may be carrying out the decision, but the decision has been ours alone.

Grim. Necessary. Unforgettable.

After about a half hour the dad and mom came out again. They walked straight out, shoulders heavy from what had just happened, and joined the three younger attendees in kisses, hugs, and tears. The dad and mom bid the girls adieu, and then left with the son walking silently behind.

And just like that it was over. We were the same people in the same waiting room, waiting our turn, relieved that we were not putting our pet to sleep, that we were just bringing it in for treatment, that life, for our pet, would continue, but also knowing that someday, sooner or later, those sad people would be us. Someday we would arrive with a pet and, in tears, leave without one.

Life and death, in one waiting room on one day in one town.

Wishing Us a Better 2017 Than Our Hellish 2016

We lost far too much and far too many this past year.

We Mourn

We mourn so many people who gave so much to all of us:
(L. to R, top to bottom) John Glenn, Muhammed Ali, Gene
Wilder, David Bowie, Gwen Ifill, Leonard Cohen,
Toots Thielemans
  • Alan Rickman
  • Alan Thicke
  • David Bowie
  • Gene Wilder
  • Gordie Howe
  • Gwen Ifill
  • Harper Lee
  • John Glenn
  • Jon Polito
  • Kevin Meaney
  • Leonard Cohen
  • Muhammed Ali
  • Patti Duke
  • Prince
  • Robert Vaughn
  • Ron Glass
  • Sharon Jones
  • Toots Thielemans
  • Zsa Zsa Gabor
  • … and to many more

We Lost or Are Losing

We’ve lost or are losing:
  • Our collective minds
  • Some of our humanity
  • Our hope
  • Distinction, professionalism, compassion, elegance, competence, and intelligence in the Oval Office
  • Some freedoms
  • Some privacy
  • Some independence

Wishes and Hopes for 2017, in No Particular Order

One of too many imbeciles
  • I hope our new president starts no new wars.
  • I wish for a few common sense laws being passed.
  • I wish we could find common ground on critical issues.
  • I hope our president-elect doesn’t say and do too many stupid things. What “too many” means will, I’m sure, change over time.
  • I hope we continue to fight for what we believe is right and to step up when we see imbeciles acting intemperately, crassly, meanly, or just plain cruelly.
  • I wish the world cuts us a bit of slack and understands that the absurd buffoon in the Oval Office doesn’t represent us as a people.
  • I wish my family and friends experience good health all year through.
  • I hope our children can find happiness, comfort, and peace now and always.
  • I hope to continue to watch my grandchildren grow bigger, stronger, and more intelligent with each passing day.

And I wish you and yours a happy, healthy, prosperous, and conflict-free 2017.