I know someone who lost several family members and two pets over the last six months. The relatives were close--not the type who hide in Alaska and are not seen for years--but the near and dear who they spoke to and interacted with on a regular basis. In fact, they were favorites.
The family dog was a favorite too, so much so in fact that many said she was the best dog they had ever known.
So a bargain was struck by the owner after the dog started to act sick. Please, they said, let us have the dog. You have taken a godmother, a grandmother, a great-grandmother--why do you need the beloved pet? She is young. Let her live. Let her live and things will be put on hold. In fact, it would be taken as a sign that maybe they would reconsider their atheism. They would even pray again. Let them have the dog! Fix her--fix her and let them keep her until she was older, with grey around her muzzle and she had a hard time walking--not because of an illness--but because she had genuinely been around the block enough times.
The career could be put on hold too--it could wait. They could even focus on church. Just give her a few more years.
They closed their eyes peacefully that night because the vet called and told them that even though she had a stroke, her neurological symptoms were improving.
But the phone rang at 7:00 am, and middle of the night and early morning phone calls are rarely good news. This was no different.
The dog was worse, in fact she was worse off than any of the other dogs at the hospital--and now she was suffering. So now a choice had to be made.
She was gone by noon.
They still had plenty to be thankful for. They had each other.
But the point is there was no one listening. No prayers were answered, and it was the final straw. Desperate times make us do desperate things, and in this case the last-ditch prayers once again fell on deaf ears--or more likely just echoed on and on into space.
We are fools. We are raised to genuflect to an being that we never see. We are told to love someone who does not speak to us when we talk, or answer our heart-felt prayers. We are told to give up our earthly lives and through faith live for a spirit who instills separateness and judgement in a world that so much needs togetherness.
Maybe they did it wrong. Maybe they were speaking to someone who is too occupied, or confused, or overwhelmed. Maybe they needed to speak to someone who would listen.
Maybe there is no one listening.
They asked me what was worse, if someone was listening and chose to ignore them? Or if there was no one at all.
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