I was in the vets office picking up meds for Nell when I saw them. Fiftyish, dressed kind of shabby, a bit scruffy looking. She checked in at the desk while he sat down on the bench, clutching something small wrapped in a blanket. At first I thought he might be drunk, or drugged up. I couldn’t help glancing in their direction as she sat beside him, took out a Kleenex and handed it to him. He quietly blew his nose, then wiped tears from his eyes. I realized that they had come to give the hardest act of love a pet owner can give to their four legged.
As tears welled up in my own eyes and I swallowed the lump that had suddenly appeared there, I was struck by several things at once. First, I realized how quickly I still jump to judgment. This is a piece I have worked on for years, and am so aware that I have miles to go. I also realized that I am emotionally right on the edge at this point in my life.
I wanted so badly to come up with some profound words that I could say to this couple, yet I did not want to intrude on their grief and sorrow. They had each other, as was evidenced by the lady putting her head on the man’s shoulder. A door opened and they got up with their small bundle and walked through that portal into the next part of their journey.
I finished my business and got in my truck. My best friend Chris had called a few moments before, and I wanted to wait until I was out of the vets office and in my truck, sensing what was coming. I called him back, and started telling him the story of what I just witnessed as the tears and sobbing began in me. I needed to share this story with someone, and the Universe provided Chris at this moment. When I told him I didn’t know why I was reacting this way, he said: “I think you have a pretty good idea. It might have something to do with the fact that your Dad just died, and that Nell is dieing.” Of course I knew he was right. I shared that I felt like going up to that couple and giving them a hug, but just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Chris commented that wouldn’t it be a great world if we could see more of that.
It feels like a missed opportunity to me that I did not convey my empathy to these two grieving human beings in some way. And maybe I’m just raw from events in my life. I will offer tobacco and say a prayer for these nameless folks. And I will pray that the next time I will have the words and the courage to speak them. After all, they gave me a powerful gift.