Resting Spot

Accepting What We Can't Change

Jun 8, 2011 by

Mr. Spot, one of our beloved cats, died on Thursday morning.

He died in the way of his choosing; at home, under the bed, where he felt safe.  He hadn’t been able to breathe well for months due to congestive heart failure.  Six months ago, I took him through a labyrinth of stressful veterinary medical procedures to ease his breathing, but two days after, his symptoms returned.

We could have done it again.  We could have submitted to another terrifying day of waiting rooms and needles, but how many times until we accept the inevitable?

Since the death of my husband in 2008, I have had an uneasy relationship with the medical system anyway.  When they told us Dave had leukemia, his only symptoms were some lethargy and pain in his side.  He checked into the hospital, as prescribed for treatment.  The chemotherapy made him much, much sicker.  His immune system destroyed, he got pneumonia.  Everything he had feared happened in that hospital and despite a host of invasive medical treatments, he didn’t get better.

The outcome was exactly the same as if he had refused treatment, except he died in the hospital instead of at home.  Is it any wonder I rejected more medical treatment for Spot?

What should a competent person do when essentially powerless?  I tried to arrange for Dave to die in the home he loved, but the doctors told me he couldn’t be moved.  He had been in that damn hospital for six straight weeks.  I signed all sorts of paperwork, told the doctors what I thought he would want, even brought in a committee of resources, but my best efforts couldn’t save him, couldn’t spare him the trauma of treatment, couldn’t even bring him home to die.

How many times until I accept the inevitable?  How many times before I accept my own limitations?

I could spend every day of Dave’s illness at his side, but I couldn’t follow him wherever he went in death.  To this day, this confuses me.

I could house, feed and play with Spot and even dig his grave, but I could not carry him to an easier death at the vet against his will.  He hated going to the clinic and hid under the couch when I brought out the carrier.

Simply put, I could not give him up without his consent.

Did I fail them?  I don’t know.  God knows, I would have given anything to ease their way, but willingness doesn’t make something possible.  It wasn’t my journey.  That power was beyond my capabilities.

Perhaps part of love is willingness to suffer on behalf of the beloved, even if you can’t take the pain away.  It will have to be enough.  We can only give what we have.

May you both rest in peace.  In the sum of things, you brought me more joy than pain.  I’m still here, I remember you and I promise to make the best of everything you taught me.


About the Author

Bonnie Simon Has Written 35 Articles For Us!

I am an urban homesteader in Colorado Springs, CO where I raise chickens, make my own yogurt and am learning to grow some food, all within sight of downtown in a 1950s era neighborhood. I am starting a small business designed to fill the gap between local farms and local dinner tables.
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1 Comment

  1. Rebecca Crichton

    I’m always touched by your honesty and the recognition, despite the pain, that you treasure what Dave and Spot brought to your life. I agree that ultimately, all we can do is give what we can and learn from what we have been taught. Thanks for your open heart and willingness to share it. Rebecca

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