Mo and I are in conversations about when is the “Right Time” to euthanize Bob, whose health is declining. My guideline has been that when he’s having more bad days than good, consistently, that is the right time. Now I’m wondering if we should do it while he still has good days, so he can die peacefully, with no suffering.
I’ve been engaged (with myself) in big philosophical end-of-life thinkings for a while now, rejecting the societal need to keep people alive no matter what. I have no religious beliefs that would deny a quick end, for pets or people, in the case of suffering. Here is the gist of my angsty thinking:
Each moment is a universe, an eternity, complete and whole. In a being’s final moment, the past doesn’t matter. I think this is especially true for non-human animal, who doesn’t have our thinking processes and probably can’t remember all the good things that have happened in its life. An animal lives completely engaged in each moment.
I once spent ten hours utterly engaged in the moment. I was in active labor, and nothing mattered but exactly what was happening at that moment. I was profoundly engaged with the universe/myself/my baby. I didn’t feel fear or anger or anything, just pain. I wasn’t thinking about the future or the past. I was exactly where I was, and that’s what allowed me to give birth naturally, in my home.
When I think on the deaths I’ve witnessed, and even the deaths I made happen (several animals that were mortally sick and suffering), I am convinced that each one of them was completely engaged in the moment, with no thought of anything but the moment. It’s a very basic primal experience. So if there’s no past to think about, no good memories to cling to, and your entire existence is encapsulated in that one, final moment: if you’re suffering, that just sucks.
The fact that suffering is normal and natural, especially in dying, helps me grapple with that a little, but really, it still just sucks. Maybe there’s another moment we living can’t see, in between the suffering of death and the cessation of existence, when there is peace. That’s what I’ve heard, and I maybe witnessed that flash of a moment pass through my grandfather after his breathing stopped. It could be Lies We Tell Ourselves to Help Us Cope. But maybe it’s there.
In any case, I’m not so afraid of death that I can’t think about these things, and consider planning a death for my Bob that takes him in a moment of contentment. On my lap, purring.
Oh Barbie, I’m so sorry to hear you broke your arm! See how depressed Barbie is?
Barbie has told some pretty tall tales about how she broke her arm, everything from rescuing puppies from an oncoming tractor trailer convoy to protecting President Obama from a rampaging bull. But come on, get real, Barbie. Lets tell them what really happened.
Based on your world-class rollerskating championship status, you were invited for a marathon charity event benefiting the organization that helps those little third world kids with cleft palates, and Ken skated by in these shorts right here, and you noticed a bulge in them that could only be a firearm, and you screamed “GET DOWN” as you executed a perfect triple axle leap through the air and tackled that evil bastard right to the ground, pinning his arms behind his back and pulling out his gun (oh yes you did!), saving the herd of rollerskating nuns that he was about to shoot down in cold blood, but then his accomplice Skipper Harding attempted to break your thigh with a tire iron, and you instinctively blocked the hit with your elbow. Which broke.
I am not making this up.
Well Barbie, it could have been a lot worse.
Having a broken arm may be easier than your head, torso and lower extremities being torn from each other, but still, it’s hard to be a Barbie in a sling.
There are so many things you can’t do,
like pick through parsley for tabouli;
make Rocky’s lunch;
pay the water bill;
drive to the mall;
order Chinese takeout;
pick a bouquet for your mother in law;
discipline the children;
or go to Maido for a good stiff sake.
But Barbie is not going to let a broken bone keep her from all of these things she loves. No sir. Barbie gets right on the phone and makes an appointment for physical therapy.
How’s her range of motion, Kay?
Aren’t you impressed with Barbie’s progress? Aww, hug time!
Before Physical Therapy, Barbie’s arm was a twisted wreck you could hardly recognize. Now, just look at these before and after photos!
Pretty soon, Barbie will be back to her old self. Then it’s back to the skating rink!
Work those eighties shorts, Barbie!