Personal column by Managing Editor Laurie Everett: Throw back those curves
The other day, a semi-acquaintance said something to me that was so profound in its simplicity. He wondered why I didn’t seem myself. Because I didn’t want to bore him with the details, I quickly said, “It’s been a rough couple of months.”
He said, “Yeah, life can throw you some curves, can’t it?”
It was a succinct response, not flowery, sympathetic or even philosophical.
We both went back to our tasks at hand, but I pondered what he said.
Yep, life sure can throw you some curves; some catch you off guard, others throw you for a loop, and some are not curves, but rather life altering u-turns.
One of those curves came with the death of a good friend in recent pass. Not yet 50, and closer to 40, it was a life gone too soon at the ugly hand of cancer. His diagnoses came only two weeks before. Too many times I've penned stories and personal thoughts in this paper about losing people to this insidious, deceptive disease that robs us of those we love. There was not enough time for him to write an epilogue to his life story, he barely had time to pen a proper goodbye. His death came about a month after the passing of my grandmother.
Though one lived a good half century longer than the other, their time on earth had equal significance. And because it was a life cut short before its prime, there were many tears, questions, and honest anguish those last few days of this special person. It seemed to me he was more upset at witnessing those he loved mourn his fading life than he was about leaving this earth.
Someone dear to me made a statement. They said, "...whenever I’m on my death bed, I don’t want my last thoughts to be of everyone crying over me. I’d rather leave this world hearing my brothers playing cards, cutting up and carrying on. I’d also want to hear my sisters cackling, teasing and giving each other a hard time. I’d rather hear them celebrating my life."
This past year I’ve experienced another kind of bond; the one between us and our pets. Writing about this special tie between animals and humans does in no way diminish the importance of our bonds to family and friends. It’s a different kind of love we have for our beloved pets, but it's just as strong as the feelings we hold for our human loved ones. And, oftentimes the grief we feel when our pet dies is no less than what we feel when we lose a close family member or friend.
Yesterday I saw on a Facebook page a friend of mine telling us about the passing of his beloved Smokey dog who lived a long life with him. It reminded me that this year I’ve lost two horses and two dogs. Old age, I’m thinking. One left me on the coldest day of the century last February.
Our pet companions provide unconditional love, fill a void in our lives, don’t argue back and are there for us no matter what. No doubt we all have had a special dog, cat, horse or even hamster sometime in our lives that we can recall today. And, even tough, gruff guys have a soft spot for, and story, about their childhood dog. I’ve talked to people who have lost their pets, they said they loved their pets just like they would a human.
I’ve always been an animal lover and have had the misfortune of saying goodbye to so many it’s hard to keep track. When a little girl, I was inconsolable when my pet fish died and threw myself on the floor in despair when it was flushed down the toilet. My pet hamster Sally spent several years with me, a constant companion. I accidentally blinded her with my elbow, had to amputate her leg when it got caught in her wheel and eventually I crafted the most ornate box for her final resting place which was two feet underground in back of the garage.
I cried for days when I had to make the decision to put down my beloved Doberman of 15 years. He was so crippled with pain from arthritis, it was the only humane thing to do. He was immobile for months before I made the decision, but the day I took him to the vet for that final goodbye, he easily jumped into the car, much to my agonized amazement.
And, when my mare’s perfectly spotted foal died during birth, I dramatically threw myself into the grave for a few seconds to snip off some of her black and white mane, then sobbed hysterically into the mare’s flanks.
We’ve all got our pet stories, and they are nothing to be ashamed of.
Life indeed throws us curves, we have to be resilient enough to catch them and throw them back.