Fallen Gods

god (ɡɒd)
— n
1. a supernatural being, who is worshipped as the controller of some part of the universe or some aspect of life in the world or is the personification of some force

A friend of mine lost her cat recently.  She’s the person who painted this awesome picture of Tierce:

Tierce painting by LJ Phillips of http://lj-phillips.deviantart.com.

Tierce painting by LJ Phillips.

Her comic, Skins, and its spin-off, Smoke, Fur and Stone are NOT safe for work or for the kiddies, just FYI.

One of the things I said to her in a reply to her post about her kitty was:

We hold so much power over our pets’ daily lives, I think it’s jarring when we realize how little power we have against the forces that take them away from us.

It resonated with me because of the parallels between humans and gods when it comes to pets.

Food magically appears for them.  Doors open.  Cars whisk them away to places, good or bad.  We can just walk into a room and things happen.  No wonder they get excited when we come home; when we come home, things happen!

We are also strange and inimicable gods at times.  We yell and throw things, yank on leashes and get aggressive for reasons beyond an animal’s comprehesion.  We make noise and wield frightening objects like the vacuum.  We can leave them without food, without water, without shelter.  We can be too exacting during training, expecting too much too soon.  We are strangers with our hats and coats on.  We’re terrifying when we hold the symbols of discomfort or pain – the nail clippers, the shampoo and the stethoscope.

Yet, for all our power, we cannot turn the clock back, nor can we pluck them from the confines of a mortally wounded body.  For those of us who share our lives so intimately with our companion animals, it seems like the ultimate failure when we can do so many miraculous things in a pet’s eyes, yet we cannot simply stretch out our hand and order their lives to remain with us.

We spend their lives grandly making decisions, but when it comes to the most mortal ones, many people find themselves petitioning a higher power to intercede for them.  In my case (since I’m an atheist), I grimly assess the facts, ignoring the pleas of a desperate heart that is ever-hopeful that if we wait just one more day, Shassi or Buddi or Candy or Gremlin will magically get better.

It gets harder if there are options that might work, but finances and time curtail their viability.  Cue the guilt.  Well, do I really need to eat this month?  I’ve already spent $1500… should I just max my credit card?  Maybe there’s some cardboard boxes in an alley downtown I could fix up with some curtains.

Ultimately, I accept the need for bringing death to an ailing pet who will never get better.  I can’t say that I’ve made peace with it.  Even today, the phrase, “we had to put her down” is followed by the reasons.  It doesn’t matter that the recipient of the information knows that there is very little I would not do for my dogs.  I’m thinking that it’s not necessarily for their benefit; they know I would have chosen a different path if such was available to me.  It’s for mine, a chanted mantra to remind myself that what I did was necessary and right.

Maybe if I was a god, I would be so far removed from earthly cares that I wouldn’t even think about the suffering of those under my power.  Or, perhaps I would misinterpret it:

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal comic Copyright 2014 Zach Weiner SMBC is an awesome comic. Check it out!

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal comic Copyright 2014 Zach Weiner SMBC is an awesome comic. Check it out!

I would like to think not.  Because, fallen god I may be, but at least I’m close enough to suffering to recognize it and do my best to alleviate it.

The pain we feel when our pets pass away might be good for us in the long run, reminding us that we are only mortal.  We can only do our best for our pets and, when our best isn’t good enough, we bring them peace – even if it’s at the price of our own.

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