(I had posted this several months ago, but it was too painful to see 'out there', and I pulled it from the blog. However, I decided to repost it. I think it's time...)
We have two dogs that we rescued from a shelter, Shep (on the left) and Buddy. We got Shep about 7 years ago, and Buddy about 6 years ago, although the shelter could not tell us their ages when we adopted them. Shep came to us as a wildly energetic dog; we got Buddy as a companion. Buddy, who had been in the shelter a long time before we came, was very subdued; they thought he was an elderly dog because he just seemed so weary. We hoped they'd balance each other out. Over the years and now, Shep has become more timid and clingy and tired and in pain, and Buddy has recovered completely and is the more energetic of the two, and may even be the younger one. He certainly acts like it. They have had a great life, with loads of love and a huge backyard.
The very very sad fact is that we can no longer care for them. I was laid off three years ago. We are selling the house to move into an apartment, where it will be impractical and unfair to care for two large dogs. Next year sometime, we expect another move where pets will be completely impossible.
Thursday we have an appointment with the shelter to bring them in for a 'surrender', (although we may have found a home for Buddy already; we hope...). It is a 'no-kill' shelter, as long as the dogs are assessed by their vet as being "medically adoptable".
And, I believe that Shep will not pass.
At that point, we have the option of taking Shep home, or allowing them to put him to sleep. We just can't keep him any longer. We can't keep this decision suspended when he has a medical problem is hanging over him. It's time.
So now, every time I see him, I see his fate. I know the likely day of his impending death. Thursday. Yes, I try to cuddle and love him as much as possible now... but it feels so awfully sad. And extremely weird. And filled with guilt and regret.
And I think of human life. What if we literally KNEW the day of our own impending death? How would we live it differently? What if I knew the exact date when my mother would die? What if she knew?
I know the adage about living each day as if we would die tomorrow (or, next week, month). Say what we need to say to those we love. Live fully. I get it, and try to do that.
But still, what if we really knew?