Today I went on a walk. I passed by a field. It was no more a field but beautiful dark freshly finely ploughed earth, which still had all the grooved lanes in it, as if a huge giant had run his fingers through grain – leaving his multi clawed trail. It was a warm dusty morning and something deeply childlike within me wanted to wander off course into the soil, lay down on my back and make angels in the dusty earthiness.
I wonder what it is in us that longs to be one with the earth, to feel the humus between our fingers and toes, to bond with the dust which one day we too will become a part of, by no longer being apart from it. Its deep. Its base. In fact there is almost something about the very sexuality of our nature that wants to breathe in and touch the earth, keeping us real. And in doing so sewing, reaping, and becoming somehow a part of her fertility – a part of her pregnant fulness – a part of her birthing – a part of her nurturing – a part of her richness – a part of us returning to her womb Mother Earth. There is something quite arousing about freshly ploughed earth that speaks of our much deeper existence, and actually if you are a woman the brown freshly ploughed earth can feel quite male.
I remember a wonderful few days of family camping (in the woods belonging to Worth Abbey) a couple of years back – where by night the children and I had a wonderful bonfire, sitting on logs all singing the brownie of the family’s camp songs, and playing games. However the enchantment came the following day when my youngest son was covered from head to toe in pewter coloured ash. He had somehow like a magnet found his way back to the place where the night before we had much fun and revelry, and he lay down in the silky soft remnants of the night before and was amusing himself intensely by driving his cars through droves of ashen made roads. It was a game (observed by me, in his absolute unawareness) that he was utterly mesmerised and ‘lost else found’ in. A game that could very well have become endless had I not later pulled him away for shower and shared food. He was happy there, playing in the ash and the dirt, being one with the earth. That time the gentle ashy earth was absolutely nurturing play in all her female motherliness.
This is a difficult week – a very difficult week. A few weeks ago I thought we were going to lose our eldest family pet. My dog has lived for the past sixteen years through thick and thin with me, she was with me in my first year of being a mother, and through every pregnancy since. She has been with me through the knotted twisted grief of divorce and through all the turmoil that preceded it. She has been with me through the deepest most heart-wrenching loss of my father, and sat by my side in the deepest darkest most lost desolate hell of grief after loosing him. She has walked with me daily, miles and miles and miles off the lead – on the lead – but mostly off the lead, by country, road and bridle way. The trust we have shared has been silent and of the eyes. It has been of touch and of sense, of body language and of vibration. The beautiful wordlessness has made me think often how perfect creatures truly are – living in gentle humble kindness all the days of their life.
We think she had a stroke a few weeks back – she could barely move at first, or seemingly lift her head – then she could barely walk – and then miraculously she did. She began eating and drinking again, and her strong mutt heart has seen her somewhat return to her elderly state, a little wobbly when she stands, slightly thinner, and a little absent-minded, but she is happy. She even walks in and out to the garden now and shares affection with Papa the no 2 dog. However slowly over the last few weeks (despite her strength returning) she can not always hold her bladder and more frequently leeks urine when she is laying on her sleeping bag bed. She does go out to pee and poo, but when she is laying on her bed she leeks. The vet told me, at her age this will not improve.
Her bed of course is washed daily and being a ‘human sleeping bag’ is very padded, but I have noted an increase in the soiling. So today I phoned the vet for some advice – how long could she go on like this for? She isn’t in any visible pain or discomfort, in fact she is happy. I told them obviously of her age and of the events leading up to today, and the kind lady said to me ‘if it were my dog I would say a happy goodbye to her – and before she deteriorates any further I would have her put to sleep – a healthy dog would not choose to soil her own bed’.
I look at my dog she is still happy, there is still a light in her eyes, I don’t think I can do it to her. R offered to take her to the vet but she has been through thick and thin with me, and I don’t think I could not be with her – to hold her paw, as she has held mine so loyally for so many years.
I don’t morally feel as if I have the right to call the shots on somebody elses life. I did it once with the ancient elder still cat, and was left so doubly shocked at the easy serenity and ‘kindness’ of it – whilst yet deeply devastated by the ‘wickedness’ and stress of it – by taking the creature to the vet – where I know they can smell fear and death – It was impossibly heart-breaking having been the one that was responsible for ordering it. Which of course being a Catholic, no, re-phrase, being a human, has made me think intensely about the euthanasia debate.
If Jadey were a human I wouldn’t do it – So for any of Gods creatures I shouldn’t – all life is life. At this point I wish I never had any pets which is a shame as there are others. Your prayers and thoughts at this point would be greatly appreciated. Euthanasia is wrong, surely everybody has the right to die when death alone calls the shots. Surely even creatures have the right to travel that journey of life over the threshold with God to the very last.
But then I think of the dignity of man’s best friend, and of saving her the ordeal of having to lay in her own urine, until I awake in the morning to give her a clean bed. I think of the earth as a mother welcoming her home once and for all – and I wish every night that God would just take her in her sleep – Tonight.