My Dog’s Death Taught Me Spiritual Detachment. Then My Sister Got Sick

Steven Petrow in The New York Times:

Shortly after my parents died in 2017, I nearly lost custody of my dog, Zoe, in my divorce. When we were reunited, I remember telling her firmly, “You cannot die now,” even though she had just turned 15. Not long after, the vet told me that new lab work indicated kidney failure. I was quite glad then that Zoe couldn’t talk, at least not in the traditional sense. We had no painful discussions about quality-of-life issues or end-of-life concerns.

I approached her final chapter with intention and indulgence, which is to say I followed her lead. I fed her whatever and whenever she wanted. I let her decide whether we’d go for short walks or longer ones. Before I went to bed, I made sure Zoe had settled into hers. Even as I prepared to lose her, I found myself exulting in our days together. When she died, I consoled myself with the thought that she was never mine to begin with; I was lucky to have known her; we only have anyone we love for a short time.

As it turns out, it’s much easier to practice spiritual detachment from a Jack Russell terrier who is gone than from my younger sister, Julie, who is here, and called later that same year to tell me she had ovarian cancer. It was Stage 4, she said, as bad as it gets. Julie was 55, a lawyer and executive, a wife, and the mother of two daughters, 17 and 21.

More here.