Christmas is a time focusing on the life-death-life cycle. And this year it feels more palpable than usual.
I’m not Christian, as you know, but this cycle is represented in every culture and is also well understood by science. At its core – energy is never created or destroyed, it just changes form. To say it has been a tumultuous year of change is an understatement.
We are in a whirlwind of fire right now and as veterinarians we are intimately involved in responding to the needs of the living who are affected by it. On top of that, it’s common for us to be responsible for more euthanasia cases at this time of year. Many clients looking for “The Good Death” turn to us for support and compassion as they decide to part with their four legged friends. As a community, it is unlikely that any other population group in Australia can comprehend our emotional landscape right now. The fires, the wildlife death, the clinical cases and then the compassionate euthanasias… There’s a lot, right now. A lot. And it is hard. There is a lot of suffering so it’s important we remind ourselves and each other, that we are not alone. Even when we are physically on our own and even when we are isolated in our thoughts and feelings. All of us are connected.
When we are experiencing suffering we need to remember that we are not the ones causing it, it is not our fault, and we don’t deserve it. But we do have the capacity to alleviate some of it with our skills, knowledge and compassion. I know we are all doing our best, on any given day, with the resources we have at our disposal. We all care about each other – that’s how communities work.
It’s been a big year for me too. My brother got married this year and my father died. I want to write more about that but this isn’t really the place. I will say that my brother is the most amazing man. He is a shameless fool who commands an army of people with his kindness and deserves his beautiful irrepressible wife to the hilt. And, my father was a brave and proud man who helped many and defined himself by his actions leaving a lasting impression on everyone who met him.
Also this year, a beautiful silvery woman appeared to me and asked how she could get more involved in VetPrac. When I first spoke to Dr Margie McEwen I had no idea what would happen. She has relit my world with her enthusiasm and I am so happy she is part of the VetPrac Family!
Next year will be an adventure. A rebirth of VetPrac’s purpose: To bring the best and most relevant practical skills training to the veterinary community in Australasia. We will see the ashes settle on our great land and new shoots of life come forth. The burnt homes and farms will be ploughed and rebuilt, and new life will appear. We will not get back what has been lost… but new things will come. Good things, I hope.
Before that happens, we will mourn our losses. We will rest; And maybe now this week is the time for that.
When my dad died, we found ourselves laughing more fully in his memories and in our love for each other than we had in a while. The joy was more palpable in the presence of such sadness and it felt richer, more tasty. I have also found myself looking at old Australian landscape photos recently, appreciating our beautiful country for what it is. The perspective changes the experience.
For those of you lucky enough to be away from the flames and any pain this season, may you remain so. May the joy and love of the season fill your homes and your hearts to continuous happiness and opportunity.
For those for whom this year has been difficult may you find kindness, love, joy and peace when you look around. May the help you need always be close, and the people you love and yourself remain safe and healthy.
And for all of us, may we cherish the life we have and what we are capable of doing with it.
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