by Linda Ryan One of my boys went walkabout for a bit this morning. I had held the door open…
On the eve of Pentecost in gorgeous Northern Californian spring weather, we were in the midst of dinner when my wife noticed a small slug munching silently on a potted succulent outside on our apartment deck. Before we had thought things through, we were encouraging our six-year-old son in the age-old biology experiment involving slugs and salt.
Some time back as I drove to work, I noticed a dead squirrel in the middle of the opposite lane. Two other squirrels were trying to rouse him, shaking his body to and fro without success. A third was chattering from the bank on the side of the road, clearly agitated. They were all running back and across the road. Should I stop? Keep going?
When she was gone and lay lifeless on the floor, we agonized over whether we had made the right treatment choices: to amputate her leg after the diagnosis of OS six months ago or to put her to sleep right then and there; to gauge almost on a daily basis how much pain she was in, and how much medication to give her; to assess when to live and when to die. Is not the power of life and death even over family pets an awful responsibility?
To be honest, whether we’re talking about humans or animals, my spiritual inclination is to turn not to promises of heaven, but to the divine presence in the here and now. Still, although I’d petted Toto’s lifeless body, I was struggling to grasp how so much sheer terrier exuberance could just vanish.