Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Euthanasia blues

The week before our Good Friday and Spring Break vacations from the cottage school, I asked my students to respond to the creative writing prompt:

You try a button on your new cell phone and it opens up a channel of communication between you and the Lord. What do you talk to Him/Her about?

I was surprised by the responses of my 11th/12th graders.  I guess I assume that most Christian homeschooled kids are pretty firm in their beliefs, so I was a bit shocked that rather than praising God, they were questioning, asking why are things this way?  Why do things feel unfair?  Would you really deny salvation to those who have different beliefs?  They sounded like questions I would pose to God.

We talked about how faith, how living, is all about hard questions, complexities that are not easily remedied.  Well, I guess they would be easily remedied if we could all just snap our fingers and "be like Jesus," but that isn't very easy for regular ole humans.   I told them that one of the most maddening things for me, personally, are those people who claim to have a sure answer.  Answers are easy, at least in theory, for them.

For me, life is far too complicated and weird for there to be a pat answer to anything.  We like to think we can live in a black & white world, but most things are grey.

How, for example, do I decide when and if to euthanize our 17-year-old cat, who is absolute skin and bones, and has been in decline for months?  Last night, I came to the basement to find every cushion on the two couches and one overstuffed chair with large urine splotches on them, and Shanks lying in one.  His tummy rumbles like it is going to explode, like I may not want to sit too closely or I might be bathed in cat digestive juices.  He is wobbly on his feet, although he can still make it to his food.

I spoke to an end-of-life vet today.  She says most cats his age have kidney failure.  Cats with a history of chronic vomiting (as he has) often develop intestinal lymphoma (which may be the crazy rumbling/gurgling).

He is not going to "get better."  We're on the downhill slide, and as I know from when Gonzo passed two years ago, there is a very short slip between "seems tolerable" and "Get a vet here this second to put him out of his misery."

There isn't an easy answer to this.  If he couldn't walk or eat, it would be simpler, although Gonzo got like that and it still took us 2 days to call the vet because there is always that hope....that "maybe he'll rally and have a little bit of time left."  I spoon fed Gonzo soft cat food and water trying to help him stick around longer.  I didn't want to make a hard decision.

No one likes to make hard decisions...the grey decisions...the ones most of life is about.  The ones I might like to ask God about if my new smartphone ever opens up that special link of communication. 

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