Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Boston Bombs and a Dog's Death

It has been a helluva week. It has been a week filled with sadness.
Sunday afternoon, I went to a local nursing home to lead a worship service. One of my parishioners is a resident there and I planned to visit with her if I did not see her at the service. Walking in, I saw her daughter, a woman who lives in the Twin Cities. I suspected that she might not have such good news about her mom, and that was the case. Her mom had taken a turn for the worse a couple of days prior and this time, she was not going to pull through. I visited my parishioner following the worship service. She died later that night.
Monday, the joy and delight of the Boston Marathon were punctuated by two bombs planted near the finish line. Three people have died and more than one hundred were hospitalized. A woman from my church ran the marathon and thankfully she and her family were o.k. We are all deeply troubled and saddened by what has happened. At the end of the day, I returned home to find that one of our dogs, Grace (Abby is the other, both poodle/Pomeranian mix) was not doing so well. She had vomited a couple of times, but this had happened before. She has a sensitive stomach
Tuesday afternoon I received a phone call that another parishioner had been admitted into hospice. Death is immanent, though she is still hanging on as I write.
Tuesday evening, coming home after the hospital visit, Grace’s condition had deteriorated. She had been vomiting all day. She seemed especially weak. If she was not doing better the next morning I would take her to the vet.
Wednesday morning it was clear that Grace was not doing better. I would bring her to her vet when they opened at 7:30 a.m. We never made it. She died in my arms at 6 a.m.
Comparing the death of a dog to human death, or even the loss of a limb is nonsensical, though over the years I have come to the conclusions that it never makes sense to compare grief. Every instance of grief has its own dynamic and intensity for the person experiencing it.
Grace was not yet six years old. In her short, happy life, she shared a lot of gifts with us. She shared unconditional love, and I was the fortunate recipient of much of that (though she could be a bit of a pest sometimes). She followed me wherever I went in the house. When she needed to go out, she sought me out to take her. Yet she was always waiting when I came home, and never failed to dance a bit with excitement. Grace was an exuberant dog. She did dances for her treats. She loved to play. Grace had a big heart. Weighing in at about six and a half pounds, she barked “fiercely” at threats, and we were always concerned that if she got loose she would chase after a deer. Grace offered warmth and affection. She enjoyed cuddling. She was a licker.
It is not fair to compare the loss of human life, or even human limb, to the loss of a dog. I don’t want to do that. Though when sadness comes, wave upon wave in death, destruction, and loss, the gifts a pet can bring are treasured, and when she is gone, they are missed terribly.

To live in this world

You must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal,
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

Mary Oliver, “In Blackwater Woods”

With Faith and With Feathers,