Today is June 14, 2020 and American Flag Day. American history reports that Elizabth Griscom Ross (aka Betsy Ross) sewed the first American flag. Quaker history reports that she grew up in a Quaker family. However, she married outside the faith (eloping with John Ross who was a member of the Church of England) and was expelled from the Religious Society of Friends. (Yes, we did that at one point.) Ross was not, however, a seamstress. She was an upholsterer.
With 115,521 deaths today in the U.S. from COVID-19 many people have experienced the trauma of letting go of a loved one. There is a sorrow that comes with death unlike any other. That sorrow is magnified so much more when it is impossible to be by the side of your loved one in that moment of transition from this life. Sadly there have been too many people lost in this pandemic and too many who have had to let go from a distance. In writing the next few lines I am deeply aware of these realities.
We are letting go this week of one of the Girls, Madison. We took her to the veterinary yesterday to learn why she seemed to be having difficulty walking and was losing weight. Madison is a geriatric dog so her symptoms were not really surprising. She is 14 and a half in human years at least. She may be older, in fact, we suspect she is. We never saw her records because she was a rescue from a puppy mill in Ohio. Our investigation suggested she was at least three years old when she came to us. Geriatric or not, we felt like something wasn’t right and we wanted to have her checked out.
At first, the vet thought it was osteo-arthritis and simply muscle atrophy, which is common in older dogs. Then he did a blood test. The blood test prompted him to do an ultrasound. Then he delivered the news. “It’s her time,” he said. “There is nothing I can do for her. So she is not in pain, I recommend you wait no longer than a week.” He explained in further detail that she was severely anemic, a mass had formed within her, and she was bleeding internally. “It’s her time.”
Madison is not the dog that was supposed to leave us already. Dolly has been contending with Cushing’s Disease and was, in fact, not supposed to live past last July. However, a growth discovered inside her last year was benign and she is still very much alive. This news about Madison came as a shock.
We aren’t sure that it is a shock to Dolly though. We got her a year after Madison and have strong evidence that she is one of Madison’s first pups. For the past several days, before taking Madison to the vet, we noticed that Dolly was staying especially close to Madison. Dogs know stuff, don’t they?
We are making arrangements for Peaceful Passage to come on Friday afternoon to help Madison leave and help us let go. COVID-19 restrictions means that the vet cannot come into our house so we’ll have to prepare to say good-bye to her in the garage. We are grateful that Madison came to our home, we are incredibly sad that she is leaving now, and, yet, we will get to be with her when she does.
In the human world it appears that part of the new normal will be that we cannot be with our family members when they die. This a cruel reality of the pandemic. To those who have already lost loved ones in this time and to those who are to experience it, we wish it were not.
chickenman – episode 58
Chickenman makes his way to Fargo, North Dakota to deliver a basket of groceries and a TV Guide to his mother.