Life is on loan for a short while. It’s a gift. It’s uncertain. It is made up of so many different pieces- times, circumstances, events, people, animals, and places all woven together to make the individual story. It is marked by relationship and location, purpose, and work. True of us. True of animals, though arguably they have significantly less complicated purposes and work! There is something about a “long life” and story that make the loss of it more bearable. A fulfilled potential- a life lived up to its expectation.
In our work, there is the unfortunate reality of life on loan for an extra short while. A miscarriage, a stillborn, a puppy, a kitten, a five-year-old- these unfair traumas of not long enough. But then there’s the 11-year-old, the 17-year-old… the grief only compounded because of all the years cherished together, and yet it still was not long enough. In C.S.Lewis’ A Grief Observed, he states, “The death of a beloved is an amputation” and “…it’s difficult to accept the fact that there is nothing we can do with suffering except to suffer it.” There’s a deep sorrow of losing these all-too-short animal lives that surprises many.
Why do our animals have such a short time? I wish I knew…But, profoundly, they hold a piece of our story- our lives are marked by location, time, and relationships- the “gotcha day,” the “goodbye date,” and the “in-betweens.” If we are honest with ourselves, if life goes how it “should,” we will outlive our furry friends. A reality that I don’t understand as they just seem to live and love better than we do- but perhaps that’s just it- they’ve fulfilled their purpose faster and therefore are not long for this world.