Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A Final Gift from Samba

I have decided to share an additional detail about Samba's last day. If you have not read my previous blog post about Samba, you should do so before continuing. What I have to say should be seen in the context provided in that post.

While I count myself a believer, it is also true that I am of a skeptical disposition and most of my beliefs are centered in naturalism. My sense of the miraculous derives from the existence of our universe (that there is something rather than nothing) and that life somehow emerges from inanimate matter. These are miracles enough for me, and I celebrate them daily. I don't offer any conclusions about the meaning of what I'm about to describe, only that the event gave me pause to reconsider my own beliefs.

When Elly went upstairs, and I was sitting alone in the kitchen with Samba, writing in my journal, I was startled by a bright flash of bluish light in the room. It seemed like a camera flash or something electrical. My first thought was that Elly had taken a picture, but I'm the photographer in the family -- Elly doesn't know how to use the camera. And, at any rate, it was sitting on the table beside me. I got up and looked around, thinking she had come back downstairs and was somehow responsible for what I had seen. She hadn't. I looked around the kitchen at our appliances, thinking an electrical cord had shorted out or something. I didn't see anything like that. I also looked out the window to see if something had reflected into the room from outside, but didn't find an explanation there, either. As I sat back down, I thought to myself if Samba were passing away, that would be an eerie event. Elly came back a minute later and Samba did pass away.

I was dazed. It was an emotional moment for us, of course. I told Elly about what had happened and her first response was she had somehow missed Samba's departure. I gently pointed out that Samba had obviously been waiting for her to return, which was undeniably true. I also pointed out that of the two of us, I was the one who had to see the flash of light to believe it.

We had expected to feel so bereft and overwhelmed with grief at that moment. Instead, we felt serenity and peace, wonder and happiness.

I called Westwood Animal Hospital, where we had made the appointment for Samba, and they said we could borrow a stretcher to bring Samba to them. When I got there to pick up the stretcher, Dr. Beyer, Samba's vet, asked to come with me and help. When we told Dr. B years ago we were planning to get a Rottweiler, he said he had never liked Rotties because he found them to be aggressive and dangerous dogs. It took Samba about 15 seconds to win Dr. B over, and they were fast friends Samba's whole life. When we got back to the house, Dr. B couldn't resist rubbing Samba's head and telling him that he had treats in his pocket for him. (Samba was a great one for encouraging generosity in the treat department.) We took Samba to Westwood AH.

When I got home, Elly and I sat down to reflect on everything that had happened. After we both calmed down, it came to me the flash had been caused by an undercounter light over Elly's desk that had blown out. So, there was after all a perfectly reasonable explanation for what had occurred. A skeptic would say it was only a coincidence, happening when it did. I would have said that myself before Tuesday. Now, I have to admit I believe there was more to it than mere coincidence. The choice between living in a world where one is bereft of hope and overwhelmed with grief in the face of loss, or being filled with peace and serenity, hope and wonder at the magic of life is no longer difficult for me.

I have much to thank Samba for, but his last gift to me was perhaps the most important of all.


Berthddu Suit said...

I'm so sorry for your loss of a special friend. My dog had to be put down last October and he still leaves a huge hole. Samba was a beautiful dog and you were lucky to have had your time with him. P.S. thanks for making me cry all over my laptop!

Fiske said...

Dear Suit:

Thanks so much for your condolences and kind comments about Samba. Sorry about your laptop! Samba was such an important part of our lives -- we both feel off-balance and uncentered now, realizing it will be some time before we get ourselves together again. He was just a part of almost everything we did. Before Samba, I never realized what a profound difference a dog can make in one's life.

Your website is wonderful. Elly and I have always been fascinated with Wales and plan to visit it one day.