Moses and Mary

Reading Time: 3 minutes

“I have an old lab. He’s 12. I just want you to make him comfortable. He has trouble making his back legs work. But mostly he has this big open wound on his leg. I have been doctoring it for 2 years and lately it’s gotten worse. I don’t want you to do a lot of tests. Are you willing to just make him comfortable. I don’t think it’s time to put him down.”

I slowed down enough to let the vet talk. I heard a barely audible sigh escape his lips and travel through the phone line.

“I can’t really give him any pain pills without seeing him,” he said, slightly resigned, but largely compassionate.

“I don’t necessarily want pain pills and I can bring him in,” I answered as I looked at Moses. He was having a good day but the nasty wound looked gross. Summer was coming and the flies would have a time with that, I thought.

Just how selfish am I being, not putting him down, I thought.

How strange to consider that we choose when animals go, I thought.

Why don’t dogs ever die in their sleep; it ought to be a rule of the universe, I thought.

This was what was happening in Hempstead, Texas in the middle of last week. At the same time, in St. Louis, Missouri, in a hospital fit for high risk stroke patients, Mary lay in her hospital bed, a relatively young woman, only 55, a clot in the deepest part of her brain, in the stem, where