One of the main themes of this blog is my ongoing battle with letting go; of worry, anxiety, control. I’m working toward an internal evolution of acceptance, balance, peace and clarity that has been elusive thus far. I have a feeling that many of you struggle with the same issues. You too, have that little demon on your shoulder, whispering in your ear to grab the reins, step in, wrestle it into submission. You know who you are and trust me, I’m right there with you, grappling, tugging, manipulating and you know what? I’m tired.
Two events during the past week, have left me feeling the ying and yang of grief and hope, pain and acceptance, loss and renewal. One event was catastrophic on a world scale and that was the devastation in Haiti. The other was the death of my 19 year old cat, Gus. If I squint, I can see that it’s a bit of a metaphor for the human condition and indeed, my own emotional tussle. I worry and ache just as much over things that are way beyond my control, like human suffering, cruelty to animals, wars, natural disasters, and ignorant politicians (and religious leaders…yes, i mean YOU, Pat Robertson; take a lesson from the Pope and the Dali Lama; you’re an embarrassment to Christians who get enough grief as it is), as I do about things or events that affect me, personally and intimately. Having both of them overlap in one week, has taught me something: forget the illusion that I’m in control.
I can grieve for the horror happening in Haiti, I can donate money and I’m in a unique situation with my radio show, to ask others to make a donation, but that is about all of that I can realistically do. Similarly, even though it happened in my house, in my life, I realized I really didn’t have much more control over the failing health of my cat. The best I could do was care for him and love him all of these years and when it became apparent that he was dying of kidney failure, we made the difficult decision to euthanize him and bury him in our backyard with his pet buddies, who had preceeded him in death.
A couple of years ago, our dog Feta, who I still ache for everyday, had a similar condition at the age of 15. The vet showed us how to administer fluids, which involved sticking a needle into her neck and making her endure an IV for 15-20 minutes everyday. She didn’t like it, but we insisted; I insisted. It was a desperate attempt to keep her with us as for long as possible and through all of it, as she got thinner and more frail, I believed that we could make her well. We hand fed her, picked her up to go outside, religiously administered the fluids and one day, when she could no longer struggle out of her bed, my husband looked at me and said, “how much longer”? and I gave in. I’m feeling the pain of that day, even as I write this, but that pain taught me what needed to be done with Gus. I didn’t want to drag him along on my timetable, my journey, when he was telling us it was time to let go. Anyone who has ever made that awful decision, second-guesses themselves. The pets make it all the more difficult as they seem to rally a bit, just when you’ve made the call to the vet. “Is he really that sick”? “Maybe a couple more days; maybe we should just try the fluids”. That’s the control freak talking and I’m learning to shut that desperate voice out.
My husband is a saint in these situations, being much more pragmatic and probably more loving than me. Even though I know it’s just as painful for him to be there in their last moments as it would be for me, he does it, because I can’t. I’m not that transformed as yet, but I’ll keep working on it. We go through our lives, knowing either consciously or tucked away in the back of our minds, how it will end for all of us and still, we continue to love, to commit, to make plans, to evolve. The happiest and healthiest, learn to accept and enjoy.