Can we accept poverty, sickness, loneliness, and bereavement with courage and serenity?
I don’t believe in “trying,” but, yeah, trying.
This is a very timely sentence for me to consider. I’m quite sure I am much better than I was pre-sobriety, but, still, no.
As spring comes to my part of the world, I am surrounded by sickness and decrepitude. I’m reading Lady Chatterley’s Lover, listening to it in the car, and I just heard the part where spring is coming to Constance’s part of the world, and she laments that “men” don’t do anything so lovely and regenerating as the plants do yearly. I would extended that to women and actually to mammals. We’re born, and we peak early, then we decline.
At home there is the 20-year-old cat and the 16-year-old dog. Both struggle and get worse by inches. The cat is arthritic, sometimes congested. He can no longer scale the counter or the bed. He walks with a stiffness that is painful to see. Yet he eats (almost all the time) and purrs and stretches out to be brushed. The dog has dementia, and something bad going on neurologically. He can’t stand the cold and gets frozen almost immediately. He struggles with the few stairs that go down to the yard, and he doesn’t attempt to come upstairs in the house any more. He stares and collapses and pees on the floor. And yet he eats, and smells the grass when it isn’t too cold out, and curls up in bed.
And Phyllis. I’ve written about her before. She’s a neighbor who came to our AA meeting at the age of 70. She achieved some lengths of sobriety but didn’t really work the program. She got cancer, and it’s been six or nine months since they stopped trying to treat it, and she is dying by inches, and just about done.
And it’s really, really, really, really difficult for me to be courageous and serene in these circumstances, with the three of them, dying by inches, and suffering, daily. None of these three will get any better. It’s not a question of “if,” but “when,” and the answer for all three is “soon.”
At times, with the pets, we will think that “this” is “it.” And then it’s not. We rehearse, in a way, and touch the pain we will come to know intimately and soon. We even look beyond those deaths to perhaps other animals we might take into our family when we have those empty spaces. And we know very, very well, that Phyllis’ space in our meeting can and will be filled and taken many times over with new hope for people who are despairing now.
But day-to-day, day after day, it’s honestly hard to cope with this. I lost one old cat when she was 19, and somehow it wasn’t this bad. She didn’t decline and go on for so long, though she did get old and feeble. It seems somehow to me that the three of them all being like this at one time, now, is making it more difficult to cope with each one. I’m sure it is. The fact that I’m older doesn’t help. I know a kitten I adopt this year could possibly outlive me, with both of us living a normal life span.
So to accept it with courage and serenity. Today, I will try.