death of a beloved dog

I can’t sleep for sadness tonight. I’m sad for the consciousness of mortality.

There were two important deaths in the last 48 hours. One of a hated man I would never have met, whose death caused glee in some and solemn reflection in others. His death took almost ten years.

The other death was the sudden last day of a friend’s beloved dog.

I would have cried for the second death even without the priming of my tears by the first, but my mood was extra pensive, so the sadness is extra profound.

I’ve spent a lot of time with Death. We’re closely acquainted. I’ve also met and closely watched his twin sister, Illness. They tend to hang out together, and they’re hard to tell apart.

It surprised me tonight to realize I have come to hate Illness more than her brother. He’s quick and merciless, but she is a cunning sadist. And that has been worse. I have watched her tempt her brother with a new victim, and heard her laugh as she snatched them from his grip. I’ve also seen her keep her toys out of Death’s sight, although she whispers his name from another room. “Memento mori,” she chuckles. Remember to die. But not just yet.

I’ve seen her terrorize bunnies and boys and mothers. I have hated her for it all, but quietly borne it, because eventuality Illness leaves, either by her own will or the force of Death.

Death is a scene-stealer, so you forget his sister when he enters, and you think you hate him most. But Death is kinder. Death is finally merciful when he takes someone away from his treacherous sister. If you truly hated someone, you would wish them a terminal illness with endless trips to the doctor or vet and scores of antibiotics that don’t work, or a thousand sleepless nights in the hospital, or the fear that comes with chemotherapy. You would not wish them dead.

And so tonight I think of the forgiveness of Death, and how it is sometimes a relief you feel, a thankfulness to Death, when you watch someone go without having had to watch them suffer.

I think that Death is the ultimate justice, both for a murderous zealot and a beloved dog. One will be sorely missed. One will be dismissed. Both are lucky in the fact that Death took them before the inevitable Illness of old age had her chance to torture them.

So I can’t cry overlong. You were a good dog, Furgus.

You were a bad man, Bin Laden.

But Death the great equalizer found you both, one way or another, and took you away. And it is all any of us can hope for in the end for ourselves and those we love or hate.

Now I’ll sleep, listening to the snores of my healthy young pup, knowing someday I’ll have to watch Illness take him seriously, if Death is not merciful first.


1 Response to “death of a beloved dog”

  1. 1 Dog Treats
    May 3, 2011 at 2:31 am

    Fantastic post, I have two German Shepards myself.

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