We had to put our dog down 11/1. She was a beagle from the local Humane Society. My wife got her the day after I came home from the hospital 13 years ago. A routine overnight procedure ended up keeping me there for 8 days and required 11 liters of blood. That was easy compared to the pain of losing our dog. I’ve been struggling to get back on track since. Time will help I’m told. We’ll need lots more time. And then there was the election and all that. Turning the clocks back made things worse. I’m still trying to adjust. Been there, heard it often, and then at some point, we see the wisdom behind it all.
And it is humbling when you sit at your desk and stare at a blank piece of paper or the screen of your PC. Or you walk around the block, shoulders hunched feeling that the entire world is pushing you down. Doesn’t matter how you got there – but that’s not true. It does. In our case, the cause was very real and tangible. One that got us sympathy from friends and family, even people in the hood who have seen us walking the dog for years. And I know we’ll survive and in a couple of months go to the Humane Society and find another dog – at 81 I don’t have the strength to get a new dog through a Wisconsin winter.
For others, I know it’s tougher. It’s sad that a divisive climate makes this even more of a challenge. Easy to think of the other as your enemy rather than someone who can help you. Be nice to permit yourself to see things that way, not having to choose sides: those blanketly blank Republicans, these crazy-assed socialist Democrats. That idiot who cut me off on the Freeway or ran a red light.
Exercise helps – yeh, even walking about the block. But here’s another suggestion that helps me when I get mad and think the world’s against me. I like to swim laps at the local pool. Occasionally I must wait to even share a lane. And I watch a weak swimmer splashing in one of those lanes and I think, “Jeez, who’re you kidding? You belong in the kiddy pool; let a real man swim some laps.”
That’s when the real exercise begins. I get my imagination in gear. Fantasize that I get a bad cramp in the deep end. The lifeguard is daydreaming or flirting. And the only one who notices is this splashy pants in the next lane just trying to keep afloat. But she sees me and grabs the lane divider with one hand and my beard with the other. Keeps me afloat and screams so others can help in my rescue. Farfetched? No.
Don’t like that? Well, what about looking into the future? You or a grandkid get sick. Guess who’s the doc that gets the diagnosis right and starts you or your offspring on the road to recovery. The child of immigrants or a minority person. And that’s not BS. My primary physician is a first-generation woman, with parents from east Europe. The remainder of my healthcare team is from around the world, a miniature UN.
The pain of our dog’s loss is still there but by expanding my vision I can temper the hurt with the help and care I get from others — learn to let them in. Love and not hate; all rather than none. A small step at a time gets the journey moving along.
Ken was a Professor of Mathematics, a ceramicist, a welder, and an IBMer until downsized in 2000. He taught yoga until COVID-19 decided otherwise. He continues writing, living with his wife and beagle in Shorewood, Wisconsin. He enjoys chamber music and mysteries. He’s a homebrewer and runs whitewater rivers. Ken is a writer and his literary works can be found at https://www.kmkbooks.com/
He welcomes feedback on his articles and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.