What’s the difference between letting go and giving up? They’re more or less the same thing, but the approach leading up and what you take away from it make all the difference. Letting go comes from the realization that whatever you are releasing is probably better off that way. Giving up derives from frustration. You throw your hands up in the air. One can lead to the other. I’ve had relationships end with people in which exasperation got the better of me and only realized later on, sometimes much later on, the inevitability that our paths would part and that only my stubbornness in refusing to face the facts stood in the way. I’m often of the mind that through sheer will, anything can be repaired or made to work, the curse of the optimist.
This letting go thing has frequently been on my radar the last couple of years. I’ve witnessed my wife deal with her father’s slow succumbing to leukemia. Since her parents live a long distance away, she not only had to face the inevitable loss, but guilt for not being there in person to support her family, though she traveled frequently to visit them. Still, this was little consolation for her as she wasn’t there on a daily basis. Though he did receive treatment and basically survived his last year on blood transfusions, there was frustration in that is was possible that all viable avenues hadn’t been pursued from the very beginning and hope had been abandoned too early in the process. Then again, maybe they only wanted to hasten the unavoidable.
But what do I know?
On another front, I’m faced daily with watching my dog slowly give in to the ravages of age. Though my wife and I have housed cats for most of the time we’ve been married, this is my first real experience with the bond that can be forged with the canine species, and it just kills me to watch this. With the cats, it was fairly obvious when it was time to schedule the final trip to the vet. Obviously, the subject of putting the dog down has arisen many times and I know that day isn’t too far off in the future, but he still has a good appetite and is always happy to greet either of us when we come through the door. The poor guy has the doggie version of multiple sclerosis and can barely walk, along with incontinence issues arising from the neurological problem. His once magnificent coat (he’s an American Eskimo) is a fading memory of what it used to be, though he’s still a handsome fellow and remains a major chick magnet when I carry him across the street for the few halting steps that now constitute taking him for a walk. So, is euthanasia letting go or giving up? If he was an aged relative, you simply deal with it the best you can. Can I offer this member of my family any less respect?
I’m quite prepared, or so I tell myself, for his eventual death. I don’t expect him to live forever. If your pet isn’t a Tongan tortoise, you have to be realistic about life spans. Ideally, I wake up one morning and find him in the living room. He’s gone peacefully in his sleep, the way most of us want to go out.
I hope this was easier to read than it was to write. I promise to pick something more cheerful, maybe water boarding or Lady Gaga or something, for the next blog,