Our family dog died last weekend. Her name was Buffy. She was a 13-year-old beagle, and she was a beloved member of our family. Her full name was “Slayer Buffy of Sunnydale”, because the wife and I with our toddling first-born used to watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer religiously.
Yeah, I know, nothing funny here. Move along, folks, nothing funny here… move along.
Over the past month or so, Buffy hadn’t really quite been herself. She showed little interest in food (and she loved food). She also got pretty lethargic. I kept putting off taking her to the vet because… well… she was a 13-year-old beagle and I suspected the worst. Finally, I put on my big boy pants and took her to the vet.
Buffy had a tumor growing on her spleen (or her pancreas, or some other organ you don’t really think about until it has a tumor on it). A big tumor. A 5-pound tumor in a 28-pound dog. Needless to say, the tumor was filling her insides, which explained her lack of appetite. And the tumor required a lot of her blood to keep on growing, which explained her lethargy. I was given two choices:
- The vet could do exploratory surgery. If the tumor couldn’t be removed, or if the tumor was cancerous, the recommendation was that Buffy not be allowed to awake from the surgery. If the tumor could be successfully removed, there was a good chance the dog, at her age, would not survive the recovery.
- Buffy could be put to sleep.
I chose to take Buffy back home to spend her final days with her family. If it looked like she was in too much pain, I could always resort back to option 2.
We took her home and we actually got a few good days out of her. She seemed to be pretty much her old self. We could get her to eat (if we hand fed her boiled chicken breast or beef stroganoff). Then the tumor just got too big, and she couldn’t eat anymore. Of course, she got her worst on the weekend. The wife and I vowed to have her put down on Monday, but Buffy didn’t make it through Saturday.
She went peacefully… or at least as peacefully as a dog with a tumor filling her insides could be expected to go. She fell asleep and she didn’t wake up.
So there I am, at 9pm in the dark on a Saturday night, digging a 4-foot grave in the clay that comprises our backyard. Each member of my family said goodbye in his or her unique, special way over the course of the preceding week to our dear friend, and Buffy now eternally rests, wrapped in her favorite blanket, protected in our backyard… well… unless we sell the house down the road and someone buys it and decides to put in a pool or something… but we don’t think about that. We plan on planting a tree or a bush or something over her in the future to commemorate the life of the best dog I’ve ever owned.
So, this week, after the appropriate amount of sympathy was displayed by my work colleagues, one of my coworkers comes up to me and says, “Hey, want to run a half-marathon with me?”
“You’re flipping crazy,” I said.
“Oh, come on. Well have 6-hours to complete it. It will be a piece of cake.”
“You’re flipping crazy,” I said.
“I don’t want to do this on my own. We’ll have fun. Maybe we can even get the boss to pay our entry fees,” said my crazy coworker.
And then my grief started to kick-in a little.
What would Buffy want me to do?
I started to imagine that my dead dog would want me to do this. I started to imagine that my dead beagle’s entire existence had been to teach me that life is short, love those you care about deeply before they are gone, and that I needed to run this half marathon.
The rational part of my mind tells me that Buffy wants no such thing. Buffy would have never wanted any such thing. Buffy wanted to eat and be petted and roll in the grass and snuggle with your legs under the blankets and lick the dirty dishes in the dishwasher and tip over every garbage can in the house looking for food scraps and wrestle on the floor when she was feeling frisky… but I can’t really imagine a thought of wanting me to run a half marathon ever crossing her little doggie mind. Grief… it does strange things to a person…
“You’re flipping crazy,” I said, “… but if the boss pays for it, I guess I’m in.”
I figured that the odds of the boss paying for it were about a gazillion-to-one. It would take an act of supernatural proportions to make my boss agree to pay for some of his less-than-running-fit employees to go out and make absolute fools of themselves.
The crazy coworker came back from talking to the boss and said, “He agreed to pay for it.”
OH… MY… Buffy came back from the dead and influenced my boss to make this rash, crazy decision! Buffy wants me to run this half marathon!
So, the marathon is less than a month away… and I’m signed-up. I have less than one month to train for an event that normal people take months and months (if not years) to prepare for. In all honesty, I think I could probably walk the 13+ miles in the 6-hours allotted.
Enter my crazy coworker.
He is intent on actually running in this thing. And he doesn’t quite grasp how less than four weeks is inadequate time to prepare for something that most people gradually work their way up to. He is, quite literally, crazy. But I’ll be damned if I’m gonna let that crazy sucker beat me.
I’m doing it for you, Buffy. It is your will. And if all goes as I expect, I will be joining you soon, girl… in fact, in a little less than a month…