My dog, Ed, was hospitalized, and I went to the office. This was last Friday, and I was doing a lot of staring at my shoes. Ed's little medical episodes, her periodic confluences of symptoms, are getting more and more frequent in recent years, and I take very seriously my responsibility to decide which episode will be her last. I was well into that decision-making process as we waited for the meeting to begin, and I was, well, sad. Grave. Contemplating ending Ed's life will do that to me.
My co-workers asked about her, and I told them about the week's events. Sympathy was expressed and accepted, and I reminded them that Ed is, in fact, a very old dog. And then I was eviscerated.
"Don't say that!" Jill screamed at me, actually trembling with anger. "I completely reject that somehow, it's less sad or less tragic when someone dies just because they're old. That doesn't fucking matter. It's always a tragedy!"
I was shocked to be attacked as uncaring, particularly after a week of wiping up Ed's bodily fluids and carrying her lame body around. "But—"
"Bullshit! People try to make themselves feel better by diminishing the importance of someone dying, saying 'it was their time,' but it's bullshit! Hurtful bullshit!"
Everyone looked down, wishing they were somewhere else. Me, I wasn't sure how to respond to being attacked. I apologized for being insufficiently despondent and promised to do better at feeling worse. It was the perfect capper to a perfect week, really.
But you know what? It is easier to accept when Grandma dies than when a child dies. It is less sad when Ed develops debilitating health issues at 12 than it would have been at 3. Grandma and Ed would agree. A geriatric dog develops geriatric dog issues, and I'm supposed to treat this like it's a tragedy? Shall I complain about water being wet, too? Not every sadness should be milked for every last drop of drama.