For the first third or so of our lives, we say a whole lot of hellos.
New people. New experiences. New things that excite our senses. We are in full-on input mode day after day for years in a row. Occasionally, something drops out of our gathered “things” we now call our own. A grandparent passes. Our family moves from one house and into another. Neighborhood friends go off to different schools.
We adapt, because it’s still mostly hellos for quite a while.
Hello first love. Hello first heart break. Hello driver’s license. Hello world.
You may wonder why older people seem sad or cranky. Beside the fact that our knees hurt most of the time, it’s about the damn goodbyes. There are way too many of them for us.
I mean, really. How many goodbyes can you handle before your head implodes and then you don’t even want to meet new people because every one has an expiration date on them like a container of sour cream?
Me? I am so tired of goodbyes. Downsizing and selling the family house…goodbye place where I sang my children to sleep at night. Early morning calls from grieving pals… goodbye friend. Retirement… good bye long standing job that gave our lives a definite shape.
Goodbye. Goodbye. Goodbye.
Today, our Veterinarian who has treated our Great Dane for ten long years came back into the exam room with shiny eyes to say that our Matty now has bone cancer. She sees this every day as an animal doctor and it still pains her deeply to deliver the news that we need to prepare for another goodbye very, very soon.
We almost lost Matty back when she was five years old to Addison’s disease. It was only the keen eye of this same vet that caught the symptoms early and sent us to Michigan State University Vet Clinic- one of the best vet schools in the country. A lot of medications and care later and we had her on a course of action that gave us five more years with our 130 pound baby.
Matty will turn ten this June. That’s like 160 in people years. We are grateful for each day of the extra five years we have had with her. Given the size of a breed like a Great Dane, their average life span is only 7 to 10 years.
We knew that already and so in the back of our minds, we have watched the petals fall very slowly from the short lived flower that is her life. The stem is almost bare now and it feels like there is just not enough armor to put on to keep our hearts from breaking. Not enough blankets in the world to ward off the cold sensation of knowing that in just a few weeks we are going to have to say another hard goodbye.
At the age I am now, I have already lost my parents, my aunts and uncles and, of course, my older relatives. I’ve lost my first love, my dear cousin and too many sisters and brothers of choice who were my beloved friends. Pets; there have been many since I moved away from my parent’s home so long ago and began to bring things with fur into my living spaces in state after state, year after year.
Every single goodbye tears the thick skin off my soul and leaves me raw and hurting. I really hate goodbyes. They make me… sad and cranky.