Ginger, a terrier/dachshund mix, represented my earliest encounter with death. I suspect a pet’s death is a common first experience with mortality. Ginger was only with our family for a short while. One day Dad took her to the vet, returning without Ginger several hours later. Was I seven? Maybe eight? I don’t recall problems with Ginger, but my parents had noticed something suspicious and decided to have her properly checked. Without me participating in the decision, without me even being aware a decision was underway, Ginger was “put to sleep.”
I knew death could happen, but did not witness it.
When ten or eleven, I had a fun chat with John. My parents had invited several couples from church for a lunch after worship. John was the son of one of those couples and arrived with his parents. He was older than me, in his late teens or early twenties. We spent time chatting and joking outside while the adults did boring old people things inside. Amazingly, John seemed truly interested in what I was doing and saying. I have no recollection of our conversation, but recall a warm feeling of acceptance because John chose to spend nice time with me. He died soon after. A car crash, I think. One day there, one day gone.
I knew death could happen, and early on it seemed capricious, unexpected and unfair. Read More →by