Sunday, January 04, 2009

Life and death

It's been a strange sad week with a big moment of euphoria. The contrast between the two moods means I've done little writing and a lot of reflecting.

On Monday I learned that one of my long time patrons from the small rural library died. On Tuesday my friend told us her husband had passed on Boxing Day. That was the same day we made the appointment to have Casey's canine companion put down. Not that the two even remotely compare but grief was unlimited in our house that day.

The next day, Wednesday, another friend of mine was thrilled when she went to the doctor and was pronounced cancer-free. I was over-the-moon thrilled and we celebrated a lot that day.

I felt guilty about it at times. So many people I cared about were devastated by their losses. Other people I know continue to wage a battle against that disease. Our joy seemed callous in the face of all that grief.

Thursday and Friday were solemn around here as we prepared ourselves and Tara for her passing. It's a cruel twist that our non-human companions, those who teach us about unconditional love, live but a few glorious years by our side.

Tara was a good dog. A smart dog who was loyal and dedicated to my parents. A dog who protected my mom and heeded my father's command to keep the house free of space invaders. It was his only real demand of her and to my knowledge we never once had an alien choose our home as an intergalactic B&B. She did her job well.

A dog reminded me that life, no matter how short or long, is to be lived to its fullest. That we are here to share ourselves with others, to protect and guard and love those we hold dear.

I know my friends mourn the loss of their husbands. I know they had wonderful lives together full of joy and sorrow throughout the years. I know a dog's life doesn't compare to theirs. I do know that my one friend has many years ahead of her to share with those she loves. And those she hasn't met yet.

Her joy in no way diminishes everyone else's sorrow. In a way it highlights the losses. She is well aware of not only how fortunate she is, but of the opportunities that lie within her grasp. I'm not sure who said it but, "A life worth living is worth living well."

The lives we mourn were well-lived. The rest of us should do the same.


  1. Anonymous11:01 AM

    It's the good stuff that gets us through the rest. So no guilt for celebrating.

  2. Yesterday, I went to a memorial service for my dad's first cousin. The two of them (ignore her surviving brother who is and always has been a jerk) were the last of their generation. My dad wasn't well enough to attend but my mom, one of my sisters, my brother and his wife went. The service was a celebration of a life well-lived and for a person who dedicated her life to her family and to canine rescue.

    Celebrating life and the health of a friend is important. And I don't think those who've lost their love ones would begrudge you the celebration. Or the grief you feel at the loss of a loved, canine part of your family.

    My dad's cousin June would certainly understand.