"I pray for peace in this world and the happiness of all beings."
Our neighbor gave us this prayer written on a piece of paper today in honor of Sparkey, for whom we are having a weekend-long Living Memorial. Our son, who visited for the occasion, remarked how we always seem to find reasons to have parties.
Spring brings much newness: the earth awakens, the flowers bloom, the trees blossom, the owls nesting in our neighborhood have two baby owlets in their nest high above the ground. But with the passing of the seasons comes the passage of time and the necessary ageing that accompanies that phenomenon. Canines age seven biological human years for each year they tread the Earth, and our choice to accompany them on this symbiotic path means that we must also say goodbye when their time to depart approaches. A sad but true reality that no amount of denial will assuage.
Equally, humans too must face their mortality. Thinking of Sparkey's illness and the need for people who love him to say goodbye, I also think of a patient who is nearing his end, his family providing his care and watching him make the choice to no longer leave his bed. On Monday, the hospice nurse and I will sit with the family and our mutual patient and explain the options of withdrawing fluids and nutrition over a period of several weeks which will actually ease his suffering and allow him to begin the transition out of his body.
I think to myself: would we just withdraw Sparkey's fluids and nutrition and let him slip away with morphine and immobility, or would we simply euthanize him with the assistance of the veterinarian, precluding the need for such a drawn-out affair? The issue of humane death (for both humans and canines) is foremost in my mind these days.
Sunday will bring yet another opportunity to be with friends, gather my thoughts, observe the life around me, and prepare to re-engage in the workaday world once again on Monday. Sparkey's eventual departure, my patient's deneoument, it is all as it should be, even when I cannot even see the forest for the trees. Whatever the near future brings, being in the present seems to be the best way of arriving there. Tomorrow will be its perfect manifestation, and our world will continue to turn beautifully, even as we dream.....