Wed, 12 Jan 2005top
My dog died two weeks ago.
She was pretty old, having just turned 14, and she had been sick for quite a while. I only really saw her when I'd come home to visit, and I guess I feel guilty for not playing with her and paying attention to her as much as I could.
I've been really busy lately, I haven't had time to think about it, but I really miss her, even though I know she's lived quite a long life for a dog her size, even though I took her for granted in her twilight years. There is something sadly missing when I come home now.
In the end, I guess it just reminds me of my own mortality. At 28, you would think this would be the last thing on my mind, but I guess this past month has been pretty emotionally trying at the hospital. Three of the patients I took care of died, two of whom went to the ICU, one of whom had a cardiac arrest (which was what ended up sending him to the unit.) All three of them had been previously well—for their aga—and highly functioning in terms of activities of daily living. Two of them, I still don't really know what killed them, and I'm not sure if anyone really does.
One of the cases I think really affected me in ways that I am not effectively expressing. I spent a lot of time working on him, and I talked to his family pretty much daily, and I was (perhaps foolishly) hopeful. This guy was only 49, and he ended up dying on Christmas Day, when his family decided to withdraw care in the ICU after he had had a cardiac arrest. I was the first one there at the code, and I remember feeling completely helpless, not knowing what to do. It was probably no more than a few seconds before someone else showed up to run the code, but those few seconds felt like eternity. That's all I really remember about those 30 hours of call that night—that sinking feeling of not knowing what to do,of feeling helpless and stupid and just feeling hopelessly tired.
Self-doubt, guilt, abject depression. Those are some of the emotions that I carry from that day. My dog dying sort of just topped it all off.
We all die. That's probably the only certain thing in our lives. (I suppose they say taxes are just as inevitable, too.) I think it's twisted how Western society, and American society in particular have managed to turn a perfectly normal part of life into this ugly horrible thing.
I wish we weren't all so afraid of it.
I think about the story my mom and dad tell me of my dog's last days, of how she was in too much pain to even get out of her doghouse, how she wouldn't eat. How they just found her lying cold and still, how she probably succumbed when no one was around. The Department of Sanitation carried off her corpse. All that's left in the yard is her house, and that palpable emptiness.
14 years, 49 years, and certainly 75 years are long times, and still, death seems like "Poof!" and it's all gone.
Where do all those thoughts and feelings go? That's what I wonder. What is the awful, profound process by which matter goes from being sentient to just a pile of flesh?
In the end, I hate feeling so helpless. There's nothing I could've done to stop any of these deaths, and yet, for some reason, I feel like I should've done something. I'm not so solipsistic to think, "why bother?" because I know that no matter what, every tiny thing makes a difference, but I'm at a loss to explain what happened to me this past month.
Suicidal depression just seems like a selfish luxury these days.
I feel fucking old, and it has nothing to do with the number of years that have elapsed thus far.
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