It was an ordinary Sunday at church. (Not really, but let’s pretend it was.) Sunny and emotional. We had just sung “Morning Has Broken,” a favorite of mine from the summer camp I hated.

“Now is the time in our service when we share joys and sorrows, the significant events which have touched our lives.”

Up comes a young woman I know a little, with her mother. They have a joy to share, and a sorrow. The young woman has had several operations for a brain tumor, but has been stable a long time. She’s in college. The pair look down, then up, then seek each other’s hand. I brace myself.

“We have a wonderful cat who we love, I grew up with her, and she has had a good life. She’s nearly 16. Earlier this week she didn’t seem to be eating so we took her to the vet.

He said she has terminal cancer. We don’t know how long she has.

She’s been losing weight. She still purrs, and she still wants to go outside, but we can tell that she’s leaving us. It’s just very hard to watch her suffer.”

I couldn’t have put it better myself, this was exactly what it was like during the last months of Gavin’s life. I know the humanity of someone who is losing everything, cat or human, and I remember my husband still could purr, still would have chased birds if it had been his birthright. I’m grateful that even though the cat might understand what’s ahead, she isn’t asking them to say otherwise. I can see how this family is living with and sharing the dignity of not pretending there’s hope. I’m a little envious, I’m flashed back, and then I am just plain sad.

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annie said...

Don't be sad. The bitch about hindsight is that it's only gift seems to be making us flog ourselves for making choices that were the best for the time.

It would be nice if we could all be so graceful and accepting, but this is a cat they are dealing with. I am betting the story would be different if it were the daughter.

J-in-Wales said...

'Quiet dignity' is as much of a coping strategy as crying, screaming, kicking and cursing. I don't know that one is any better than the other for the person suffering the loss. It may make the bereaved person easier for the world to cope with, but whether internalising the pain in that way is the best way to heal, I really don't know.

J xx

Supa Dupa Fresh said...

Annie and J,

Thanks, yes, I was able to keep things in perspective. I had some of the regret about the way Gavin and I coped, the ease of dealing with just a pet, and on the other hand, I was really sad for the coming loss of a creature they loved. Even with perspective, it's still sad and it was, actually, not an ordinary Sunday, either, but I was trying to contain myself because that one moment was plenty. :-(


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