From my desk, I have a wonderful view of the world around me. It’s not an accurate picture but postcard like with the park across the street as the focal point. Today, like yesterday and the day before, large flakes of packing snow falls in fits. My view includes mature evergreens and bare-branched Burl Oaks. In the distance, cars pass by and beyond them is the white lawn where the Seniors bowl in the summer. Even the cat, asleep on the back of the couch, in front of the window, adds to the picturesque scene. Inside though, safe from the storm, life is more complicated.
Isn’t that the reality of life? Life is not a Norman Rockwell painting. While I’m enjoying watching the snow come down my dog, a Rottweiler is recovering after having her forearm amputated. She has cancer. She’s my third dog and the third one to succumb to the disease. It makes me wonder what I’m doing wrong. Is it the environment? Is it her diet? Is it me?
I remember when my father’s mother died. My aunt went around telling the world she died of a broken heart. Yes, life for her after her husband died was hard. Losing a partner after a lifetime together is inconceivable for me. I have lost friends. Probably more than most people my age simply because many of the folks I have befriended over the years have or did serve in the military. Those deaths, while tragic come with explanation’s we can wrap our heads around. She died taking fire from the enemy. He died when his engine failed. Those are things we can understand, and we need to understand.
It used to be that doctors could tell you an elderly loved one died of old age. Today we know better. People die of something. Cancer, Heart Failure, Congestive Lung disease. We don’t just expire. And when we lose someone we demand answers, some explanation, no matter how old our friend or relative. Stella, my Rotti is only six. Mid-life in dog years. Five days after surgery, she’s getting around as if nothing happened and soaking up the extra attention. She doesn’t ask questions. For her, there is no why. For us though, our hearts are restless, and our heads need to know. I can tell you why it’s snowing. I can bore you with the details of temperature, water vapour levels, and atmospheric pressure but I can’t tell you why Stella has cancer. I can’t tell you why my Nanny’s lungs failed. I can guess as to why my father had lung cancer and deduce that his life as a smoker was to blame, but like the snow falling, each flake is unique. Maybe I need to accept the news of cancer and other death explanation’s we receive as complicated and distinctive as the person we have lost or will lose.
Maybe life is more like the snow than we understand. My postcard view is just a moment in time, and, in the grand scope of the universe, maybe that’s all we can expect to realise too.