Expectations

Zephyr, Fall 2017

It is with a heavy heart…
It saddens me to announce…
There’s no easy way to say this…

The conventions of announcing loss all fall short, and to someone with my temperament, inspire a certain amount of anger and resentment. Anger is the stage of grief I’m most at home in.

But I do need to let you all know that we said goodbye to our good dog Zephyr today. It was all pretty fast and unexpected, to say the least. He was suffering from Lyme nephritis, which we suspect was an unbeknownst to us low lying, chronic condition from when we first adopted him. He was already around four years old, then, and showed many signs of abuse and neglect, including the marks of many past bites, including ticks. I do take comfort in the fact that Dave and I were able to give him another three years of comfort, security, love and safety from the dark days he had previously endured. Zephyr thrived, for a time, in our home.

The last 48 hours (who am I kidding, the last 46 years), have been spent in introspection.

Unexpected. Expecations. Great and otherwise.

This is what I think we’ve been grappling with most this year.

We should be able to expect a certain amount of courtesy in our political discourse.

We should expect our news to be factual and fact checked, not sensationalized or syndicated with an eye to entertainment.

We should expect that we as a people progress and evolve, and not willfully resist history’s lessons of our brutal xenophobic past, let alone allow that past to dictate the present.

We should expect that people’s individual freedoms to identify as who they are, to love whom they love, to enjoy the equal rights codified in our nation’s inceptual documents, will be honored.

We should expect to be housed.

We should expect to be fed.

We should expect our health care needs to be met.

We should expect that our suburban homes will not be engulfed in wildfire, nor that we should yearly live in anxiety because our systems of utility, safety, and management have failed us.

We should expect to have clean air to breathe and clean water to drink.

We should expect that the government, which we support with large percentages of our hard-won wages to, when we cannot work, or pay rent, or pay mortgages, or need health care, support us in turn.

We should expect to be by the bedsides of our loved ones at their most vulnerable and when they pass, not on the other side of an inches-thick glass or the other side of a country, because neither touch nor travel are advisable or allowed.

I am thinking about all of these reasonable expectations, and how they have been disappointed again and again. More personally, I’m thinking that I had expected my well-cared-for dog, who was at most 8 years old, to have at least a few more years of happy, carefree life.

I’m so sad right now, but eerily calm. Because I, like many of us, have become somewhat inured to the disappointment of my expectations.

This is both a weird and on-brand way, I know, to talk about the passing of a pet. It comes of reaching a sort of limit. My bitter cup is full. Take it away.

How do I wrap this up? Maybe it’s a calling out. Death comes for us all. Illness. Loss. We do not have control over much of this, but I do think we should feel empowered to dictate some terms. Condolences are hard for me to take, however well meant. I think what I’m yearning for, in this moment, is that we exercise agency where we still have it. That we work toward making the changes and realizing the expectations that our systems have failed to accomplish.

What would comfort me is knowing that you all are out there, working in some fashion not to control things, but to try to make things incrementally better. Writing postcards to Georgia voters, or putting pressure on our city and county governments to better manage the wild and forested spaces around our towns that have been neglected so long. Adopting a new buddy and giving them a better life. Having a hard talk with a racist relative or friend. Questioning your own rigid beliefs if they infringe on the rights of other, and finding ways to educate yourself and become more flexible in your thinking.

“My dog has died, will you please try to make the world a better place?”

I don’t know how this is connected; I just know that it is.

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