It’s hard to believe that it has already been one year since that terrible day in Tucson when 6 people were killed and another 12 were injured by a gunman. Gabrielle Giffords, a Democratic Senator from Arizona, suffered a serious head wound. At the time this happened I was still making daily visits to Florida Hospital’s Hyperbaric Oxygen unit, being treated for my breast surgery. Soon after Senator Giffords hospitalization I asked my favorite nurse, Lois, what kind of chance did the Senator have for full recovery based on her injuries. Lois didn’t think Senator Giffords would ever make a full recovery.
We never know what the future holds. I recently lost a friend in the rescue community. She was only 50, healthy and a real dynamo. She would always step up to take on the real hard luck cases, either cats or dogs. Her heart and compassion for animals were enormous. She had suffered a brain aneurysm and collapsed in her home. Her husband called me about a week after she’d been admitted to the hospital. On December 23rd the doctor told her and her husband that she would be released just after Christmas. She passed away in the early morning hours of Christmas Eve. Her loss sent shockwaves throughout the Central Florida rescue community. Many people had never met her, but had communicated with her by phone or email. She was always willing to share her knowledge and expertise – especially with orphaned kittens – with anyone who needed her advice. Her wonderful husband now has to figure out how he will care for their many, many rescued dogs and cats. Her friends have offered to help and, hopefully, he will reach out to those who have offered.
Gabby Giffords is continuing to improve with her speech and mobility issues. Her husband, an astronaut, has diligently supported her in her rehabilitation. Both women have been fortunate to find such loyal, loving men with whom to share their lives.
With all that I’ve been through, both personally with my health and the loss of so many of my cats and dogs, I feel the tragedies of these four lives even more deeply. While my problems have been enormous, they pale in comparison to the unexpected and unfair tragedies experienced by these two families. I hope both families will find peace and comfort in the love they have shared and the outpouring of concern from those who know them.
I’m grateful for the joy my animals have brought and continue to bring to me each day. It is so easy for us to allow small things to stress and/or get us upset. Life is short and all too often unfair, which is why I feel it is so important to do our best to ignore those day to day annoyances and other small things and keep our focus on what is important – kindness, compassion, integrity, honesty and treating others – whether they have 2 legs or 4 legs – the way in which we want to be treated. Hug your loved ones each day, tell them you love them and, if you’re lucky, at least one of them will respond with a purr.