I’m sitting here at the dining room table getting ready to write about ahimsa, and I detect the faint smell of… sh*t.
First, the ahimsa: It is one of the main ethical principles of yoga. It means non-violence or non-harming. It is the belief that we should try our best to live our lives without harming another living creature.
Next, the sh*t: For the past couple of months, our old girl Bronte has been having accidents all over the house. A few weeks ago, John finally took her to the vet. Blood tests indicated that she has kidney disease and is on the decline. The vet told us that he could prescribe some medicine, but that it would be a “Hail Mary Pass”.
Bronte is seventeen years old. She is deaf and she is skittish. She has found a way to climb into our shoe-cubby closet, slink though a hole that surrounds a pipe, and hide in the wall. She stays there most of the day, only coming out occasionally to piss on my hard wood floor.
So, we have asked ourselves for the past two weeks…is it a Hail Mary or is it time?
We have really been asking ourselves this question for over a year. We keep deciding to wait. We waited as she lost more weight. We waited as she stopped making the trip up to our bedroom each night to sleep at my feet. We waited as she completely lost her hearing and stopped cleaning herself.
After careful consideration, and more than a few tears, we, as a family, have decided that it is time to let her go. The appointment has been made. For tomorrow.
I think that I know that it’s the right thing to do. My nose sure knows. I’m just having a hard time wrapping my brain around it. I can’t reconcile this with my attempts to live a non-harming life, a life of ahimsa. I try to tell myself it is mercy, that I will be ending her suffering, that this is no quality of life for her. But who am I to judge her level of suffering?
I know people do this every day. And they go back out, get another pet, and do it all over again. I just really don’t like being the one with the power to decide that it is time for her to die. That’s probably why I waited so long. I’ve been waiting for her to die peacefully in her sleep. Maybe tonight…
…Not only does this smell like sh*t, but it feels like sh*t too.