While I waited at the counter of the veterinarian’s office for our older dog’s medicine, I quietly cried. I had taken her in because she has been coughing.
And while I worried that she might have pneumonia, I was completely unprepared for our vet to call me into the back office.
Her expression was very serious and our dog is kind of sketchy - so I expected a lecture about how they couldn't x-ray her lungs because she wouldn't let them. And by the way… it’s going to cost an additional $400 to put her under general anesthesia to get the images of our dog’s lungs.
It wasn't any of those things. Our dog has tumors in her left lung; two large one’s for sure, plus a couple of questionable areas that are likely tumors as well. She has The Cancer.
Grief is a strange phenomenon. My daughter once said that if she is crying about something and is sad, it makes her think of all the things that make her sad, too. Maybe because she’s my daughter and I think she is brilliant – but out of the mouths of babes, right? I find this observation very poignant and very true. So I got to thinking about what makes me sad: the disappointments in my life, the struggles that I've had with addiction/alcoholism, the frustrations of being a parent and the major life upheavals.
I heard a man remark about a 13-year old boy that he went through rehab for addiction with, who had one of the craziest lives he’d ever heard about. The 13-year old told him that “everyone has a story. The thing is not to fall in love with it.” I heard that line over 10 years ago and it has stayed with me. It’s one of those ideas that get me where I live: Everyone has hard times. This is where resilience and the ability to let the past go come in.
I've told the women I help with addiction and my own children that our experiences are like currency. They are what make us appreciate the goodness in our lives - and hopefully the hardships we endure can be a way to be of service to others. It runs along the lines of ‘better to comfort than be comforted’.