Eight days ago, we were a happy household and expected our almost 11-year-old senior Scottish terrier, Hudson, to be with us for another four or five years. Six months ago, the vet surgeon was confident that she had gotten all the cancer. He was due for another ultrasound in three weeks. Now we don’t know if Hudson will be with us in four weeks.
It’s been 30 years since we’ve lost a pet. By the time you read this post, we will have made at least eight trips to the vet, the vet hospital, and the vet oncologist. Both my wife and I have felt predictable anguish, regret, depression, and mourning. Hudson has been swamped by extra park walks, at his pace, extra petting, and extra cuddling. Friends and family have expressed concern, sympathy, and unrealistic hopes.
We have the resources to provide care for him. We recognize that his remaining time will be far shorter than we expected ten days ago. We are striving to be loving and to have a respectful, caring, realistic, benchmark to determine when it’s time to let go. We’re not God, and it is difficult to make such an irreversible decision.
We have all lost siblings, cousins, parents, kids, or dear friends. We know physical death is inevitable, yet most of us push back that reality. Each such loss is the loss of a precious, unique relationship. Each such relationship can easily be considered routine and can easily be taken for granted.
Unique and precious
You may recall I recently lost one of my dearest friends. That loss was unexpected, poignant and I still miss him and think of him often. We enjoyed 50+ days kayaking in Baja together and solving the world’s problems over a beer or two. Together we went on 25 Baja trips to build Homes of Hope and did goofy skits for the kids in our congregation.
Each relationship is unique. Precious relationships are tied to heartstrings.
Scotties are not famous for being love bugs. Yet, contrary to the advice of Cesar the Dog Whisperer, Hudson, our 20-pound Scotty, has slept on the bed with us for most of his 11 years.
You can guess that now intentionality and mourning are big issues. What is best for our beloved dog is not the same as what we would like. How we make the most of whatever time we have is another issue front and center.
Two closing ideas:
Savor time with people and pets you cherish. There is no guarantee of mortal life tomorrow.
William Carey wrote that he did not fear failure, he feared succeeding at things which did not matter. Relationships matter. Love matters.
A final note Since this blog was started, Hudson passed, so, so quickly. We buried him at one of his favorite spots, under our biggest tree just before sunset on his 11th birthday.
Terry Moore, CCIM, is the author of Building Legacy Wealth: How to Build Wealth and Live a Life Worth Imitating. Read his “Welcome to My Blog.”