Lay on, MacDuff, and curs’d be him who first cries, “Hold, enough!”. — Shakespeare
Re-read my post on Mac Duff moving on and thought of a few things I wanted to add.
First, I wanted to say more about Dr Ann Brandenburg-Schroeder. She is a tiny woman, a grandmotherly figure who looks like she stepped off a Norman Rockwell painting. Neither her attire or her bags had the slightest suggestion of being a veterinarian. And Mac Duff’s nose was as curious as ever about what she was carrying. He quickly found the biscuits and was welcome to them. Dr. Ann thought of every detail and asked me questions like if I wanted a snip of Mac Duff’s fur (I had already done that) or a paw print in clay (which I accepted). She even researched the proper tartan for the Mac Duff clan and tried to match the blanket he would be wrapped in after he was gone.
In addition to explaining what she was going to do, several times, she carefully explained what Mac Duff’s reactions would likely be along the way. I knew most of what to expect, but if this was a first time or if there were kids saying goodbye to a pet, her explanations would have been priceless in helping them with the experience.
Dr. Ann talked about how after the last shot, and Mac Duff’s breathing and heart had stopped, animals sometimes take one last quick breath. She described this as the soul leaving the animal’s body and not to be alarmed by it. She was also willing to let me spend as much time with Mac Duff after he died as I wanted. I told her all I wanted to do, after his breathing and heart had stopped and he was leaving his body, was to play a piece on the cello which Mac Duff seemed to like. And so, when it was time, I played the “Ashokan Farewell” for Mac Duff. (Alas, I hadn’t practiced the piece on the bag pipes for the lad!)
Dr. Ann took care of the cremation arrangements as well. I like it that they use the metal tag identifier with pets like they do with people. Dr. Ann had recorded Mac Duff’s tag number on my receipt and tied the metal tag to his front left paw with, what else, a tartan ribbon.
I helped wrap Mac Duff’s body in the tartan blanket Dr. Ann had brought and I carried him out to her car. She had lined the back of her VW wagon with blankets of the same tartan and had a pillow ready for Mac Duff’s head. I put Mac Duff’s little body in the back, scratched his ears one last time and stepped back. He looked every bit like he was taking one of his naps. Dr. Ann said I could close the hatchback of her car when I was ready. I didn’t need long, Mac Duff was gone.
Wow. What a contrast to the way Pfred and Oscar had to leave. Particularly Oscar, for I believe he unfortunately suffered more than necessary before his death. He knew where he was and he absolutely hated the vet or anything that so much as suggested a cage of any kind. A dislike no doubt coming from his first 6 months in a puppy mill cage shared with a bigger dog that continually attacked him.
The next day I met a friend for lunch at a Chinese restaurant. Marie and I feel the same about our dogs and loosing one is no small thing. At the end of the meal, the fortune cookie for me was “Time heals all wounds”. I had written quite a bit about this particular phrase in a notebook I’m using to collect such thoughts which will eventually end up in the book I need to write.
Any truth behind this phrase is a myth. Time doesn’t heal all wounds. I’d say unequivocally it doesn’t heal any wounds. What it can do is give those who have suffered a loss the opportunity to grow, explore and discover new and deeper ways to live. Time gives those with even a small amount of courage the opportunity to find ways toward strengthening their soul and moving forward. And in doing so, the distance traveled gives perspective and reveals meaning about the rough road behind them. It doesn’t matter that others fail to understand this insight. It only matters to those who have suffered such deep losses. For them, there is no such thing as just another sunrise or sunset. It is the paradoxical gain that comes from loss.