Yesterday I had a very sad morning at work. A family came in with their cat that had passed away suddenly, just a few hours earlier. One minute she was fine, then a while later they found her lying still on the couch. These clients hadn't been in to see us for a couple of years, so obviously I'd never met them. They didn't know what to do with the cat's body, so they brought her to us. I saw them coming from the parking lot so I met them at the door. The teenage daughter, whom I assumed this kitty had belonged to, was an absolute mess, bawling uncontrollably. She didn't look ready to surrender the cat yet, so I escorted them into one of the exam rooms for her to say some final goodbyes.
When they emerged a while later, the girl handed her cat to me, wrapped in an old baby quilt. I was a bit taken back...this is the first time I've held a dead creature in my arms. (Animals have died in the time I've worked there, I've just always been watching from a distance when the bodies were cared for.) But she was still bawling, and continued to do so not even 1 foot away from my face, as she fawned over the cat I was holding. It was incredibly sad and I had to really work on keeping myself together. I tried to comfort her, best I could, reminding her that Kitty Girl (that was the poor little thing's name) had gone peacefully and hadn't suffered. I didn't want to downplay her sorrow, so I didn't say it out loud, but I kept thinking about what a blessing it was to have a geriatric pet die like this, instead of watching them live with pain for so long that you are forced to make the terrible decision of euthanasia. This natural passing seems to happen so rarely.
Eventually she was able to part with her precious pet and the family left our lobby. Dr. Olson was in the middle of another appointment, so I just took the cat's body to the back room and laid her gently on a table. I knew this wouldn't be her final resting place, but I decided I'd let the doctor handle what needed to happen from there. :(
I am consistently amazed at what I'm faced with...and am able to handle. If someone had asked me in advance if I could handle these emotionally charged situations (or the medically gruesome ones) I would have probably said "HEEECK NO!" But there I stood, comforting this girl at probably one of the saddest points of her life thus far, saying goodbye to a friend that she'd known most of her life. And not just comforting her, but actually HOLDING that cat in my arms as she cried over it! All I can think of is that it's not ME working in that moment - it's God. I firmly believe that the strength I have found at these moments comes straight from Him. And all I can hope is that, in some way, His light and love will shine through to whatever individuals I come in contact with. And if it means being uncomfortable or pained for a few moments, so be it. I just want to be a vessel for whatever words of kindness or love He wants to give those people.
But at least I can say that the good, joyful days FAR outweigh the bad!!! :)