On Not Being God
Uno had unprecedented difficulty eating his dinner last night. He bled a lot, too, not just bloody drool but thick maroon gobs. This was worse than his "normal" bad days. John and I cleaned him up and took a closer look at his mouth. There's a new tumor in there. It's the size of a robin's egg, distorting the line of his gum just behind the left canine and unmooring one of his remaining molars. And it looks like there's a third significant growth under his tongue, and the lower gum on his right has a scab-like anomaly resembling something I'd noticed on the left side did last week. No wonder he flinches when we try to wipe his mouth.
Damn it. We'd hoped we could at least keep him stable for a few more months. We've left a message with his regular vet, but we think when she calls back the topic of conversation will be the logistics of saying goodbye.
Lately - well, not today. Today, he's just burrowing under the covers and trying to stay unconscious. But in recent days he's taken to wandering the house as though looking for something, then returning to call out to me with that half-whine, half-baa word that makes up the bulk of his vocabulary. (He's never meowed or mewed. I don't think he's built for it. He mutters instead.) I'll look, and he'll stare back into my eyes with direct intent. It's clear he wants something from me. He's asking, pleading, for something. But it's not clear what.
I'm beginning to suspect the request is, "Ma? Can't you make it stop?"
These little creatures, they trust us implicitly to hold up the sky for them. And when we inevitably let them down, they don't blame us. They don't get angry. I don't think they even realize they've been let down. They just endure, waiting for us to eventually get around to fixing it. They know we can fix anything.
It's up to us humans to know that we've utterly failed them. It's not like there's anything we could have done, but that doesn't stop me feeling like a failure. I also know it's stupid to feel this way. So on top of feeling like a failure, I feel stupid.
But for Uno, it's very simple. Physical pain is simple. So is the comfort he gets from being near us. The emotional anguish of our unrealistic expectations of ourselves, that's a burden for us, not for him.
At least he's spared something.