You Were Sent To Me Today
"YOU WERE SENT TO ME TODAY"- 10th May 2017
Last week, I went to see our doctor to get my annual flu vaccine. The surgery was crowded and I was issued with ticket number 20. My heart sank, this was going to be a long wait. Looking around at the crying kids, the crowd of coughing, snorting and sneezing people, I decided to opt out of Germ City and wait outside in the autumn sunshine.
A minute later, a woman arrived. At least twenty years younger than me, she hobbled like an old lady, each step causing evident pain, and she breathed heavily. "Oh dear, you look in terrible pain. What have you done?" I ask. She can scarcely speak, but whispers "Back pain .... I need to get something from the doctor." I tell her its like Pitt Street in there, they are on their last morning of flu jabs, and she'll be lucky to get an appointment, and ask "Do you have an osteopath?" She explains she just moved down from Sydney, she bought the station masters cottage on the corner, knows nobody, and isn't even a patient at this medical centre yet. I tell her about Phil Burgess, an extraordinary osteopath, who works miracles with problematical spines and necks, and ask if she would like me to give her his number. At that point, my name is called - that was quick - and I tell her to wait for me, I'll be back.
I'm back in under five minutes, and dash to find her. She is in such pain that the tears are now rolling down her cheeks; I dial Phil's clinic and miraculously, he picks it up himself, he is not even open yet. Yes, he an see her, in an hour. God Bless you, Lovely Man. She and I - I forget her name - exchange details and she leaves to drive to Gerringong, about 30 minutes away.
I drive home thinking of the synergy of life, and how at certain times - or maybe all the time? - we find ourselves in a situation with another human being and are given the opportunity to make a difference. I know Phil will help her, I know I was there for a reason. I feel good in my heart.
At The River House, Cino is waiting for me, begging to go for her daily walk. I change and we are at the beach five minutes later. We take a different pathway to the shore as I have picked up some garbage and the only bin is at that entrance. Cino strains at the leash and as we reach the sand, I see a woman walking towards us with a small Yorkshire Cross dog. She has tears streaming down her cheeks. I reach my arms out to her and say "You look so sad!" Like a distressed child, she comes straight into a hug and sobs into my neck, "I have to put my doggie to sleep today ....." My own tears flow, oh I remember that agony, at least ten times in my life, as we stand there swaying as I pat her back and make Mummy sounds of comfort. She tells me that Buddy is seventeen years old, and she rescued him when he was three, she thinks, he was so emaciated, they couldn't guesstimate his age, and he has been her faithful friend and loyal companion every day of his life since then. She has brought him here for his Last Walk, to give him a day of absolutely everything he loves. How can she do this? Should she do this? Look at him now, sooooo happy to see your Cino - and playing like a puppy, yet the last few nights he has cried in pain all night long and she has held him for hours and hours trying to ease his discomfort and love him to health. How will she live without him? Is she doing the right thing? What if she is wrong? She shakes her head, her head knows that in human terms Buddy is already 120 years old, but her heart just doesn't want to let her best friend go and she knows that is selfish.
I listen; I too have said these things. I remember all night vigils with beloved dying animals and the pain for them, and for me. But I have learned that the final act of love we can give our pets is to release them from this life, to release them from pain, it is our obligation as a 'parent' to our fur babies, it is our responsibility. My neck is wet with her tears, and our rocking slowly stops when she is finally ready to let go of me. I hold her hands and look in her eyes, and tell her what I think. Her tears still run, but her body relaxes a little, and she looks at Buddy and Cino playing and laughs out loud. "I am so glad I met you and Cino!" She has a friend about to arrive to come and support her, and to go to the vet with her at 5 pm when Buddy goes to the Rainbow Bridge. She has to go. "One moment" I say "can I take a photo of you and Buddy?" They pose and she goes. Cino and I walk, I carry her sadness with me.
I send her those photos when I get home, and later, a copy of "The Rainbow Bridge." "Buddy passed peacefully" she tells me via email two days later, she loves the photos, she thanks me for the memory, and says she would never have thought of doing that, and the poem made her cry, but it made her happy too. She misses him terribly, and was so grateful to be his mother. She thanked me and said "You were sent to me that day."
NB The lady with terrible back pain phoned me later that night. She said that Phil was a miracle worker, she was going back to see him next week. She had been to the doctor and got an anti-spasmodic injection to ease the pain. She said she was now resting with a glass of wine, and felt so much better. She thanked me and said "You were sent to me today."
I tell you this story not because I think I am special or because I want your acknowledgement. I tell you this because it continues to surprise me that it takes so little to ease the pain and bring comfort to another human being, and to give some love to a stranger. And because I feel so nourished myself, knowing I am able to make a difference.
We all can.