I went into town on Thursday afternoon, mostly on rather mundane errands like recycling and grocery shopping. After hitting the recycling center and a stop at Southern States, I stopped by my vet's office to pick up Samantha's cremains. I was glad to get her back home where she will join many others in our dining room columbarium.
I had already shed many tears over Samantha's death so this was not the hardest part of the process. That had come after she was euthanized. The process itself is peaceful. The hardest part, for me, was walking out of that room without her, leaving her behind. I had kissed her goodbye, covered her with a blanket, and took her collar with me, but walking out that door without her was hard.
I had spent the rest of that afternoon driving around, shopping and crying intermittently, not at the same time, but trying to compose my thoughts about her. I came home that evening and wrote a blog post about her as I often do. I wrote it, gathered and edited pictures, posted it to the blog, and went to bed with an empty dog bed on the floor next to me.
I was gratified to see so many responses, comments, and reactions to that post because she was just a dog, and a very ordinary dog at that. I loved her and knew her well, but not many other people did. It got me thinking, what's the impact of one ordinary life, be it canine or human? What's the importance, the meaning of such a life, much like my own?
The fear of nothingness kindles a desire to leave a mark, to make a lasting impression. It's probably what drives procreation, at least in part, the thought that I may not change the world, but perhaps someone down the line will do so. It's probably also what drives people to amass great wealth far beyond any reasonable wants, needs, or desires. It's what motivates people to emblazon everything they own with their name in large gold letters. I'm not going to do any of those things and aside from procreation, 99.9% of us will not. Most of us are Samanthas.
Samantha wasn't troubled by this, no dog is. It may be because they don't understand it, or they may have a better understanding than we do. Perhaps the meaning of life isn't in what's left behind, but what we do while we are here. Do you help people or exploit them? Do you share your bed with another dog who needs a space to rest? Speaking of which, a new boy arrives tomorrow.