A man came up to me when I was in San Francisco, he nudged me and asked me for change. I of course took pity on the man and gave him a sandwich from Togos that I happened to have. The thing is, this singular act of kindness triggered something in this man – he blessed me, teared up and told me about how he had lost his wife to cancer, and a shit ton of other super depressing shit. He had been thrown into a depression which resulted in the loss of his job, his house and at that point he was a homeless veteran.
Even with the help of god, he was unable to maintain his life.
As an atheist things are more complicated. Instead of just waving my hands and saying something really condescending, such as “he is in a better place,” or “he is with god now,” we are forced to actually deal with the physical and emotional connections that we felt for the loved one. Death is more meaningful under these circumstances. You are almost required to go back through history to replay all of your memories, as if you could improve the indelible nature of such memories with the use of repeating the memories again and again.
I was raised with dogs, big fat, meaning overweight, boxers in particular. They are known for being exceptionally tight bonded to their owners, and as a child I was created such a bond. The last days of his life were very difficult; he had problems with walking and control over his facilities. My family made the decision to take him to the vet to be put to sleep. To this day I have a almost certainly completely fictional memory of him looking up at me as they injected him and he went limp.
Yesterday was a very difficult day for my wife and I. Our cat, one that she has had for a very long time and I have done my best to enjoy, crossed into the threshold where her quality of life was questionable. We had been preparing for the event for the last year, but neither of us wanted to actually see it come to pass. In the end an appointment was made and we chose to take her in to be euthanized. We were with her for the last moments of her life and it was a difficult event for either of us.
I tell you this, not for your pity or for you to feel the sorrow that I feel, but to share that both of the above have taken a very strong toll on me. Going through it a second time has dredged up old feelings that make me really appreciate the difficulties of taking care of a pet. Knowing that my pets are not going to be going to a magical place of harps or virgins waiting for them may seem like a tough thing to accept, but I find solace in knowing that they are at least no longer in pain.
Thank you for reading, i hope you are able to tease out some form of appreciation for the above.