The Universe hasn’t stopped trolling me – if that’s what I can call this. One after the other, with maybe a day or two in between, having one fear after another thrown at me. This time, the Universe has come for all the geriatrics in the house, including my dog, and all of the wickets are wobbling dangerously.

Well, I knew this day was going to come. But there’s no way I could’ve prepared myself for it. All of my veterinary experience, all of the pain and suffering I’ve seen and treated couldn’t prepare me for the pain I feel now when my dog is sick.

There isn’t a good time to fall ill, but when all the old people in the house fall sick at the same time, it’s a different kind of hell. And not being able to be there with my parents and help them through this physically is another level of remorse. I know I shouldn’t feel guilty, and I’m not. I just wish, with all my heart, that I could be there and help them out.

My dog is the reason I chose veterinary science as my profession. He occupies a lot of very important positions in my life, which is something every pet lover understands, and every non-pet owner doesn’t get. “It’s just a dog, how could you love an animal so much?”

This animal came into my life at a time when my entire family was disconnected, and we’d become a bunch of really young and much older roommates sharing a house. He gave us a reason to bond and band together. He gave me a safe space to love without conditions, to open up myself and be vulnerable in my emotions. He didn’t give two hoots about me being a child with anger issues and insecurities that required a tome to list accurately. He didn’t tell me that I was weak for crying to him, or I was clingy for showering him with kisses or letting him lay his head on my lap for me to stroke gently. He didn’t tell me I was a nerd for studying too much – he would lie in my lap while I studied with my books on him.

He didn’t complain when I used him to study first-year anatomy, or to practice fourth year general medicine. He didn’t move a muscle when I would have to draw blood from him for his biannual blood test, or complain when he needed his gastric medication or his tick medication. He’s been my best friend, my little brother, and by far my best patient by a large margin.

Seeing him sick has disturbed my family far more than their sickness did. My father, who would think more than ten times before spending money on anything for any reason, has spent more money in the past two days than he has in a month, and has gone more times to and from the hospital for his tests than he has in the entire past year.

My mother, having to deal with her illness, then her husband’s illness, then her parent’s illness and her in-law’s illness, is now having to give my dog his many medicines. She’s honestly having a far worse time than I am, and, in a sense, has to do it alone. And being far away means that the only support I can give is through the telephone, and the only thing I can support her with is being there for her emotionally.

Having to see your mother, your bedrock of strength and your role model, deteriorate before you mentally and physically is a pain I don’t think I’ll ever be able to comprehend. To have your mother tell you that you’ll incur no sin by killing her in her lucid moments because she no longer wants to live with an incurable disease that makes her completely dependent on the people around her… I cannot imagine the anguish that my mother must be suppressing within herself to be able to function on a day-to-day basis. And the most I can do, in all of this, is be someone who listens.

Two of my favourite people in this world – one who gave me a goal to pursue, and the other who taught me how to live my life – are knocking on heaven’s door, and one is more insistent than the other. All of this has made me realise that at a certain point in a long life, all you have to look forward to is death.

So, please. Call up your aged parents, or your surviving grandparents, and tell them that you love them, if you have a good relationship with them. They are growing old, and aren’t going to be around for long. Video call back home and check on how your childhood pet is doing, because they aren’t going to be around for long, either. None of us are going to be around for long. So if there’s someone you want to send your love to, take the time to do it today.

2022 is going to be an eventful year indeed. Here’s to our good health, mentally and physically. Stay safe, everyone.

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