This all reminds me of Nefer's downhill decline, last year, and her eventual—though not untimely, considering she broke the record for Pharaoh hound life expectancy—death. Nefer's death was not a highly publicized event outside of my immediate family. I've been thinking about the stories I share—and those I do not share—with my students. This has come up in reaction to comments made just this week by a past, somewhat challenging, client of mine who is presently working with my daughter, as a house sitter/ dog trainer. Apparently while still attending my classes, this man asked me “how’s Nefer?” to which I purportedly replied “dead.” I did not elaborate, or share any emotion, or publicly perform my grief, and I guess this didn’t set well with him. He has mentioned my “coldness” and “lack of emotion” to my embarrassed daughter more than once, shaking his head with disgust that I could be “so insensitive and uncaring” regarding the loss of my pet.
During this time of tending to Lily, I've mulled a bit on this man’s opinion regarding my failure to share a proper performance of a very private grief, and it comes around to that very point. My grief is private, not a flag to wave, and the death of my dog was a huge and profoundly personal loss. It isn't for display, or for good advertising. I will say this: her death came tenderly, with her head in my arms, and she died at home, helped out of this world by my caring veterinarian friend, Lynn. Tomorrow Lynn will come again, to help me with another struggle, this time in efforts to save Lily’s life. I really hope I can share a joyful announcement, in a few days time, that Lily is on the healing side of her battle.
As I am writing/ venting about all of this, I am wondering: will my writing about my desire to have my privacy respected, and to have the benefit of the doubt if I choose not to share deeply, make you hesitate to ask me how Lily is doing? I hope not; if you happen to read this and then see me some time after, please do ask. I am not unwilling to share what is going on in my life, with my pets, to the level I am comfortable. If she survives, the grueling nature of our struggle will be worth talking about—probably way more than you want to hear--for having resolved happily. If, on the other hand, Lily does die—though I desperately hope she doesn't—and if I seem terse speaking of it, please understand the depth of my sadness is something I’ll again keep private. I appreciate empathy, care, and commiseration, and believe the sharing of personal stories regarding love, life, and even loss can be healing. However some things are very private, and some loss transcends simple explanation, in passing, to casually interested persons. Nefer's life was bigger than this little story, as is Lily's.