Autumn has begun, my favorite time of the year, and it was kicked off on my birthday, which was happily marked by a visit from my parents.
And then it all went downhill from there. I went back to work on a Tuesday and proceeded to have one of the unhappiest days I’ve had there in a long time. And I thought that was cause to feel depressed, sorry for myself, and glum about my place in the world.
I was an idiot.
Because over the ensuing several days, I received news about some tragedies that would shame me for every feeling sorry for myself.
Sandy, the founder of a small, hardworking rescue in the West Valley, would succumb to a long a battle with cancer, leaving a void in her family and animals’ lives. The rescue is in crisis without her, and her animals are in jeopardy.
Sandy is someone I never did meet, although I helped her keep the lights on once, when the rescue was struggling to pay their electric bill, and so she and I would exchange emails, and her son would pick my brain on ideas to help grow their volunteer base.
But Rebecca, another tireless, independent rescuer of animals, I’ve actually had the pleasure of meeting several times, and assisting her as recently as a couple of months ago. Last week, Rebecca suffered a horrific asthma attack that caused her to go into cardiac arrest as she drove herself to the hospital, after transporting 19 dogs to spay and neuter appointments. She now lies in a hospice bed, life support taken away a few days ago, with only hours or days left, brain dead. She is leaving behind four personal dogs and nearly forty foster dogs (all small, but still too many). She would be beside herself to know that all of her fosters were impounded by the Humane Society, their fates uncertain, the rescue community scrambling to try and absorb the shock of losing her, Sandy, and another rescuer, all in one week.
When I spoke to her two months ago on the phone, she had just lost her favorite little dog to a foster dog who had taken a disliking to her, and broke through a gate to attack her, while Rebecca was out. Rebecca was so despondent and depressed, she wanted so much to save more lives to make up for her failing her little pup. I know that she did just that, adding to the hundreds of dogs she has saved over the years, and I hope she is going to her heaven in peace, knowing how much good she has done here. She even tried running for Congress twice, against her arch-nemesis, conservative Jeff Flake, to try and impact animal welfare issues more deeply. I don’t think she ever came close to beating him, so I desperately hope that Rich Carmona can do it for her this year, if only because I know it will make her exceedingly happy, wherever she ends up.
She was funny person – short, mannish, a chain-smoking asthmatic, who passionately loved animals, didn’t own a car (I don’t know whose car she was driving to transport all those dogs), and she is going to leave us way too soon. I know she would have scoffed at the idea that her number would come up at this point in her life – she was only 49 years old.
I think most of us don’t really believe in the idea that we are mortal, do we? Even if we know philosophically that we are all going to die – do we really think we might die in the next day? Hour? Do we really cherish our tenuous grip on life the way we should?
Needless to say, the self-pity I wore early last week has been put away, in favor of some 100% true gratitude for just waking up in the morning and being able to participate in this crazy world.