How did summertime flea-and-tick weather get such a jump on Jack’s Frontline treatments? The sad truth is we haven’t treated him for a year, thinking he was healthy enough to fight fleas on his own. Wrong.
Because of his itching, scratching, licking and nibbling, today we took him to the vet. Although Louisa and I thought he might have worms (common in outdoor-loving pets), the doctor disagreed, insisting it was just a bad case of fleas.
“Have you been using Frontline?”
“Have you been giving him his heartworm prevention pills?”
“Has he been tested for lyme disease?”
“Did you bring a stool sample?”
The bottom line: we are negligent pet owners, and Jack not only has fleas but also lyme disease. The vet, who casually leaned on his stainless pet-examining table when he told us this, had no alarm in his voice. “We’ll treat it with antibiotics, and he’ll be fine.”
After two hours, we left the office with Jack and his bagful of goodies: Frontline, Hartgard, antibiotics, a fistful of explanatory pamphlets and a bill for $289.
But we can’t blame Jack. He got into trouble just doing what comes naturally, nosing under bushes, chasing deer through the woods (thus deer ticks, thus lyme disease), swimming in the lake and drinking creek cocktails.
While Weezi and I waited in the lobby between a stool analysis and the blood draw, a different drama unfolded in front of us. A whole family entered the office, mom, dad, sister and brother. The young boy came in last, carrying a fluffy white pillow on which lay a big Siamese cat. Louisa whispered, “I guess they brought the whole family?”
But in two minutes we understood. Their cat was very sick, and they had come to put him to sleep. While waiting to go in, the mom approached the receptionist with two vials of pills. “She didn’t use these,” she said. “We never opened them. Maybe you can donate them somewhere. If not… well… we never… we couldn’t… we didn’t…” and then she burst into tears.
Her daughter hugged her while she wept, and the receptionist offered Kleenex. Then all of a sudden, I was sobbing, too. Louisa turned and said, “But Mom, it’s not our cat…” I couldn’t explain. Somehow watching that family grieve as death approached their friend caused deep empathy to well up and overflow. It had to do with death’s finality, its forced separation from the ones we love and, yes, it had to do with Nate.
Why was I surprised?
God created people to live forever. He meant it to occur in a perfect world without sorrow, and when death aborts life, something inside us turns upside down. The scene we witnessed today and the one in our home last fall belong in that up-ended world, and we hate it.
God hasn’t changed his mind about us living forever, though. The only adjustment is our need to pass through earthly death (as Nate did) before we can reach eternal life. If we do things God’s way by entrusting our lives to his Son, death becomes a passage to the sorrow-free life he intended at the beginning.
God will bring joy from suffering and life from death. Why am I not surprised?
“His anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” (Psalm 30:5)