Someone left me with a lingering heartache today thanks to a careless comment. I would have liked to turn that hurt into anger, to have used this platform to rail against a thoughtless person. The first draft did exactly that, until I reviewed it and then saw that I’ve made the same sort of mistake.
My girl dog, Jessie, and I, while out on our usual late morning walk, ran into a woman walking with her dog. The dogs exchanged “hellos”, and the woman turned to me.
Woman: “How old is she?”
Me: “She’s 12…will turn 13 in a couple of months.”
Woman: <gives me a sympathetic look> “German Shepherds don’t live much longer than that, do they?”
In an instant all of my carefully placed fictions, designed to distract me from Jessie’s aging, crumbled. I spent the next hours of the day clouded by sadness.
In my defense, whenever I have done something similar I have studiously avoided any mention of end of life issues. Usually I will inquire about an older dog’s age, and then comment about how spry and active they appear. I’ve thought I was putting a positive spin on things. Now I think that all I accomplished was what that woman’s comment did today, which was to draw attention to inevitabilities, and temporarily destroy the present moment joy of the caretaker with their dog. After today, I have a much greater appreciation for my fellow dog walkers in my community who don’t know how old Jessie is because they’ve never asked, a strategy I will now emulate.
Back to enjoying every moment spent with Jessie (and Maxx, of course)!