Sometimes it is hard for me to put into words my feelings. There are many emotions that have been building up and they overcame me this weekend. I have said before that going through this has changed me forever. What started out as something to tell her story and hope that another person could recognize the symptoms of SM, has become a cry for help. I feel not only her pain, but I feel for the many others and I carry that weight with me everyday.
This post is not about Ella, but about my pain and the questions that I wish I could answer. I could not understand how people did not see the importance of responsible breeding and being a responsible pet owner. How not understanding the importance of health can cause so much pain. I do not blame my breeder for Ella’s problem. I think that this breed has a lot of health problems and that the answers are not that simple. I will tell you that I have seen the good in people. The people who have so much love for these dogs. I have seen what they have done to speak out no matter what the consequence because they feel that this is such an important issue. I have so much respect for them. Even though I am just learning things everyday, I know I have to do something and but how can I help? I am just a pet owner. I am not a breeder, a politician, a scientist, so what could I possibly contribute? I know I am going to do everything to find out. It all begins with one step and the road is going to be difficult. I was telling my friend this and she then said she wanted to tell me a story. She wanted to tell me how being emotionally involved can be difficult and how children can be compared to animals.
This good friend is in education. I began talking about the things I see and how I much I wish I could change. I told her that I talked to many people and seen things from all different eyes. I talked about I have started to ask more and more questions and see that things are not as simple as it may seem. There are so many politics that I never thought about and until I know what the consequence of my actions, I can not say what the best thing to do is. We both felt that the way you treat an animal, should be treated as how a person would be treated. Abusing an animal is no different than abusing a child. She went on to describe how hard it is to be a teacher. A teacher that cares and then sees what can happen years later. Here is her story.
My friend’s husband was a police officer in a city that had a high crime rate. One night he returned 5 hours later than when he was supposed to be back from work. He said he decided to stay on because he had been involved in a drug deal that went bad. The result was that a teenager had been shot and was killed. She did not know why but he told her his name and to her surprise this same “child” was who she taught as a teacher in third grade.
She taught in a school in a district that had many problem children. The first day of class, she saw a boy with so much anger in his face. I can not remember why but something she did built a bond and a trust with him. One day he asked if it would be okay for him to stay after school and help her file papers. She had another boy that wanted to do the same thing. They did not want to go home. She did not know what it was like there, but she saw through his anger. She wanted to save this child and like so many others, she felt helpless and it carried a weight on her too. It was very difficult and eventually she went on to higher roles in education but she felt that she would have not been able to handle the emotions she felt for the children. She said that all he wanted was for someone to care. He did not have a happy ending and was not saved from a life that I am sure was filled with pain.
She said that there are many teachers that experience this until the get to a point to not become emotionally attached. They either can not handle it or they accept that they can not be responsible for saving each child. I was telling her how much of an emotional toll this has been for me and reading more and more about things has made me want to become more involved. Even though all these feelings have been building in me, I was able to escape it and actually have fun which I have not done in a long time.
My favorite thing is South Carolina football. I watched the game and began to think about other things. It felt good to go home and be with friends doing something I enjoyed more than anything. I could then understand why people do not want to understand the problems with the health of this breed. It is easier not to think about it or even want to know. I do know many people who have devoted their time to help animals. They can see the pain and even though it breaks their hearts, they want to do something.
When I got home that night, I then saw things from someone else’s eyes. I saw Ella looking at me for answers. Why does she feel this way? She was wanting me to do something to ease her pain. I could feel her being scared. She does not know what is happening to her and I could not tell her what her future will be. Ella can not escape her pain like I did this weekend. I may not have these answers but I can say one thing, I am not going to give up until I do everything in my power to search.
As I drove home, I listened to the words of my favorite singer Dave Matthews. The song’s words gave me an answer for now. It spoke for me all the things I have been feeling and I know one thing I can do, I can be there for her. I can comfort her but I need to remain strong. I owe everything to her and for that I will give everything I have to help these eyes and the eyes of many others no longer show fear. Like the child that my friend taught, I will do everything to make that go away.
Dave Matthews Band lyrics to the song that spoke to me.
Where are you going
with your long face pulling down?
Don’t hide away like an ocean
But you can’t see, but you can smell
And the sound waves crash down
I am no superman
I have no reasons (answers) for you
I am no hero, oh that’s for sure
But I do know one thing for sure
Is where you are is where I belong
I do know, where you go, is where I want to be
Where are you going, where do you go?
Are you looking for answers
to questions under the stars?
If along the way you are growing weary,
You can rest with me until a brighter day
Ella, for now “You can rest with me until a brighter day and ‘hopefully’ you’re okay”
Ella was diagnosed with Syringomyelia and taught me more in her short life about how to live life to the fullest, love with all your heart, and learn from each other.