Finite Creatures

At what age did you realize you were not immortal? How did you react to that discovery?

I think this was probably when the family pets had died, when I was a kid. While I can’t remember all of them, there are a few I do remember.

We had a rabbit called Sam. Sam had a stroke and lost the use of his back legs. Dad brought home some human anaesthetic and administered it to Sam without telling us. Sam went to sleep, quietly and happily. And woke up after a few hours, quietly and happily. He repeated the trick once more until he was given a suitable dose for an adult male.

Our cat George was victim of an RTA, and Sandy the golden labrador had a terminal illness. I had two chinchillas, one of home was killed on a car accident while the other died heartbroken his brother was no longer there (apparently common in chinchillas).

I don’t subscribe to the line of thought about getting pets to teach children about loss (why is it any more suitable for them to learn from a hamster?). I found it no easier understanding my Granddad being in hospital because the dog had been to the vet, and certainly I wouldn’t say that his death was easier because I had had pets that died.

What I remember from the deaths of the pets has been that people telling me that they had good lives. That’s the main thing that still sits on my mind now being a relatively new sole pet owner. I want to know that Moo is happy and that I’m not letting him down. When I couldn’t get home to him one night a few weeks ago, I was genuinely bothered that I hadn’t and couldn’t tell him where I was and that he was worried or upset because I hadn’t come home. That’s pathetic I know.

But the sentiment stands. We’re all gonna die. Make the most of living. There are a lot of cliches one can use in this post, but the quote I like is from Steve Jobs who said:

Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.

I probably don’t keep that quote in mind as much as I should.

And I normally end with a lyric quote, but this time I’m going to end with one from The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.

There are infinite numbers between 0 and 1. There’s .1 and .12 and .112 and an infinite collection of others. Of course, there is a bigger infinite set of numbers between 0 and 2, or between 0 and a million. Some infinities are bigger than other infinities. A writer we used to like taught us that. There are days, many of them, when I resent the size of my unbounded set. I want more numbers than I’m likely to get, and God, I want more numbers for Augustus Waters than he got. But, Gus, my love, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I’m grateful.

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