14 October 2009

Much can be said about those who demonstrate compassion and kindness


Tonight, I resolve to write and write and write until I become so tired that I am unable to type another key. My hope is that time spent writing will be more constructive than randomly contemplating all of the many thoughts, ideas, and emotions bouncing around in my mind.

I am slowly becoming accustomed to the oh-so-quiet walk to the bus stop to fetch Eamon after school. Malachy always enjoyed the trek down the cul-de-sac to await Eamon's return. I delighted in telling Malachy to look for the bus at which point he would turn his head toward the corner where the bus would turn onto the street toward our stop. As Eamon exited the bus, Malachy would begin to excitedly wag his tail and pull ahead toward Eamon. I noticed that Mal would always seem to have a bit more pep in his step as we returned to the house. After all, one more member of his pack had returned home. :)

I have attempted to *groom* Madeline to be my new "walk to the bus stop" partner. This will take some time. Actually, a considerable amount of time, is a more accurate assessment. No worries that Madeline is not up for the challenge. We have discovered that Madeline is usually up for any and all challenges. However, Madeline tends to be easily distracted even on the short journey to the corner. Actually, Madeline is easily distracted. Period. She desires to stop, drop, and roll around in the street, attaching every scent and substance to her body. I desire to walk. She desires to roll. Once she regains her composure, she invariably determines that the excitement brought on by rolling in the cul-de-sac requires her to jettison unwanted waste. Of course, she only does this on the occasion that I forget to grab the oh-so handy plastic clean up bag. After resuming our walk, Madeline intends to revisit her street rolling ways. I have determined that I need to leave five minutes (or more) earlier when with Madeline due to her apparent attention deficit issues. I won't even go into detail about her incessant barking at Scoutie, the collie, before we reached the corner. This was all in our short trip to the corner. Repeat all of the above, minus barking at the collie, on the walk back home.

The nights have become unsettlingly quiet. The kids are snuggled and sleeping soundly in bed. Bernard is on the couch working at his computer, fervently catching up on all of the programming he was unable to do while in meetings all day. Or, he has fallen asleep on the couch after fervently attempting to catch up on all of the code he had intended to write after spending the days in meetings. Madeline and I enjoy some good quality snuggle time but she invariably determines that it is time for her "late evening nap" to be followed by her "early night nap," (of course). It is at this point that I find myself looking for Malachy in the corner or under the old wooden dining room table. Those are, I should say *were,* his favorite nap spots and I still *expect* to see him there. It is not really an actual expectation but rather a conditioned response, reinforced for seven years. I realize he is no longer in his favorite spot and this reminder triggers the rising tide of anxiety and pain deep within my chest. It is as if a large rock is somehow embedded, almost stuck, deep within. I realize this discomfort is the anxiety of grief. It is natural response. It may even be an expected reaction. I understand the physiological and biopsychological implications of processing grief. Yet, my theoretical understanding does not mitigate these moments of intensity...the moments of profound sadness.

This afternoon, a representative of the U of M veterinary clinic called. The woman immediately asked how to pronounce my name, As I was responding to this initial question, she informed me that there was a balance due on Malachy's account. We had just received the bill a few days ago and informed her that I was aware of the balance due. In fact, I had written the check out at 1:00 am this morning.. I decided I would pay the bill when I went to retrieve Malachy's remains which, I was told, would be available this week. The woman informed me that Malachy's remains were indeed available but that I would not be able to retrieve them until I paid the balance in full. I assured her that this would not be an issue, in the least, and that I would be glad to pay the bill tomorrow when I was at the clinic to *retrieve* him. She reminded me again of the balance and informed me that the remains were locked within the accounts receivable office. Again, she told me that I would not be able to claim him, only and until I paid the bill in full. I reassured her that I had already prepared the payment and would be happy to pay it tomorrow as Malachy's remains are now available. She interjected that she needed to "let me (sic: you) go" but that I must submit payment by mail immediately. Was I unclear? I told her again that I would be at the clinic tomorrow and would indeed pay up, no need to mail the bill if I intend to deliver it in person tomorrow. Why would I delay retrieving Malachy by making the payment by mail when I could simply pay in person tomorrow? S he repeated her speech for the umpteenth time before ending the call, almost admonishing me for not paying the bill the very day I received it. Her last words reiterated that I would not have access to Malachy's remains and they were locked up in the payment office.

Okay. I get it..pay up or you are not getting your dead dog, lady.

Okay, I know I should have quit while I was ahead. I got caught off guard. I was surprised and incredulous at her lack of compassion...her lack of kindness...her lack of respect. Perhaps, she did not have a sense that I understood that the bill must be paid. Or, perhaps, she worried that I had no intention to pay. Perhaps, she hears excuses from people as to why they might not be able to pay or that they have already sent payment and it is "in the mail." Perhaps, she simply lacked the ability to be respectful.

This person does not know me. She does not realize or care that I have never made it a practice to ditch out on my bills. Maybe I sounded as if I lacked intelligence and so she felt the need to talk loudly, slowly, and repeat her message numerous times. Apparently, at the end of a workday it is acceptable to be a bit rude...a bit condescending...a bit disrespectful. Maybe she has found that reminding grieving dog and cat owners that they will not be able to receive their pet's remains unless they cough up the cash is an effective collection method.

Okay. I go back to the fact that I should have cut her off at the pass. I knew the conversation was circular and foolish. All I could think about was that Malachy was cremated. He was locked up in a file cabinet in the accounts receivable office. He is no longer my my sweet and happy pup. He is now collateral.

I have accepted that he is gone. Yet, I felt like I was reminded of this newfound reality by having a bag of bricks dropped on my head. Maybe I just need to suck it up. Toughen up. Be less sensitive. Maybe it all feels so raw right now.

I think much can be said about those who demonstrate compassion and kindness. Much can also be said about those who lack these qualities.

1 comment:

caviecub said...

Dear Jeanne. I'm a friend of Tim's, and read about your recent difficult times. I just wanted to reach out with a great big hug. Your accounts of Malachy are vivid and beautiful. He's a good dog! - Stephen