A Nurse with a Gun

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Transcendence

It's been a tough weekend. Work began for me on Saturday morning at 6 AM. It was a series of difficult, stressful cases, worked with a skeleton crew dubbed the call team. I did have one break in which I published the AR piece between cases. I had hoped to publish a bit more, but it was not to be. The schedule was relentless. When I finally got home, I ate no supper. I collapsed on the couch in my scrubs lest I be called back again. Around ten o'clock, I sleepwalked to the bedroom and fell face down on the bed.

Then my wife woke me up to the horror of Vivi's death. I found Vivi laying in the street, in a pool of blood a block away in our neighborhood. Her skull was crushed, her back broken. I took her back home, and laid her out. I briefly had the insane notion of burying her in the darkness, but after I had gathered the shovel and tried to pick a grave site in the blackness, I realized the futility of it all. I called both hospitals to check the schedules for today, and both schedules were empty. Thankful of my good fortune, I resolved to bury her in the garden at first light.

I could not sleep, and since Sunday looked like a free day, I blogged assisted Ilsa with her blogging. Then, as the sun came up and my breath blew out in puffs of white mist, I labored in the cold to dig Vivi a grave while my family slept. I awoke my wife, and we lowered little Vivi to her rest.

I stripped down to my boxers, took a shower and crashed into immediate REM sleep on the sofa. Beep beep beep beep "Whaaat" beep beep beep "th'" beep beep beep "Hell?" beep beep beep beep beep! It was the first case of the day. The emergency room night staff had neglected to call it in, and Dr. Balogh was upset that there was nobody there to help him work. I looked at my watch. It was 7:15 AM. I had slept for about twenty minutes. I put on my scrubs and got in my car.

I was too exhausted to be pissed as I staggered across the hospital parking lot in the cold. Dr. Balogh was writing notes as I tapped his shoulder and said "So, I understand someone might have a job today huh?" He smiled. At least I wouldn't have to endure a doc angry with me this morning. He had discovered the root of the problem, a nurse who did not know how to schedule a case, and who had decided to do nothing rather than learn how.

The rest of the crew filtered in, and we set the case up in record time. We scrubbed in, and we got to work. I did not mention the events of last night to Dr. Balogh. He could tell I was tired for some reason. We talked about LSU getting beat by Alabama in Death Valley instead. Jealous-U had lost in overtime 27-21. Dr. Balogh let me know we had one other case at the other hospital. As soon as I could, I sent half the crew there to begin setting it up. Later, when the day's work abated to the beeper again, I drove back home bleary eyed. My sofa was waiting.

When I awoke, My wife and Little Darling were asleep. I needed to ride. Alone. I put Ilsa in the back yard (I checked the gate) and I rolled the Raleigh Grand Prix out into the crisp air. I wanted an uncomplicated bike. Nothing to think about, except me and the wind. With my beeper attached to the collar of my hoodie, I set out.

I began to ride aimlessly about the neighborhood. I had to stay relatively close to home in case I received another page. A physician's tolerance only goes so far. I wanted my response to be swift if needed. The choice of the Grand Prix as my steel steed was a good one. It glided quietly and with grace beneath me.

As I rode, I thought about the morning's cases. I thought about how the ward clerk had slipped me a note telling me LSU had lost last night. I don't follow college ball, but the physicians I work with do. It's always good to have the latest basic information. As I rode, I ventured farther and farther from my home base, feeling more and more free. Still, I studiously avoided one area of the neighborhood.

Finally, I made the turn towards the fatal intersection. To the bloodstained black top where automobiles still sped through a residential district in excess of 50 miles an hour. As their tires spun past my dog's dried blood on the pavement, I tentatively edged my front wheel closer. Not knowing what else to do, I snapped a photo, and then another, and I retreated from traffic. I was well aware that my fate in a collision with one of these self absorbed fools would be no better than little Vivi's.

As another speeding car ran over what remained of my dog splattered on the pavement, I felt a great anger rush to my throat. I felt an urge to stand over the crimson spot, to protect it, to raise my fist in defiance towards unrepentant monsters who kill loved ones and drive away as though nothing happened. But I did not. I made the sign of the cross and said a prayer instead. I prayed for little dogs who just want to run free in the night, and for the souls of those who would take a little girl's beloved puppy and not even stop to say "I'm sorry."

I rode past the blood on the pavement. There will be no wooden crosses at the scene of this accident. No wreaths, and no orange cones to slow traffic. Eventually the crimson stain will be washed from the pavement, but little Vivi will not be forgotten. A Cardigan Welsh Corgi is a special dog. Ilsa thought Vivi was her baby, and they wrestled constantly. Ilsa would roll over and let the short legged growler gnaw on her throat. Then they would play chase again.

Vivi was an imp, and the instigator of all the doggie pranks that occurred in our home. She was so happy to be with us. She had found her pack at last. Much to Darla's chagrin, Vivi herded her. An older Pembroke Welsh Corgi should not be herded by any dog, but Vivi was insistent. Of course, Little Darling will never forget the first dog that was truly hers, even if only for a short time.

My wife, too, is mourning the loss of the little grizzled creature that used to sit proudly beside her. Her grief is worse of all, having felt responsible and being the first to find Vivi as I slept last night.

I continued to ride with greater haste as the sun sunk towards the horizon. I was alone and one with the bike. I did not know what else to do. I had done all I could. Sometimes being the father is an elusive thing. Fathers are supposed to know the way in which to lead their families. I did not know which way to go, but I had been there when needed. Perhaps that will be good enough. This evening though, I rode my bike. I felt the freedom and life that Vivi once felt, but I did not ride for Vivi, and I did not ride for me. I rode for transcendence.

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31 Comments:

Anonymous Eric Shelton said...

I wanted to comment last entry, only to say I'm sorry, but was kind of afraid to. The futility of my words, and all. But then I thought of the last dog I lost, and how much it hurt.

My thoughts and prayers are yours, sir.

6:37 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

I am so sorry for your packs loss and am so glad you have each other. Ed.

7:04 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

I'm sorry for your loss.

8:01 PM  
Anonymous sparksflyhigh said...

Xavier,

I had to let you know that I understand your loss in some small way. All of us who have lost pets (family really) understand.

I have followed (lurking) your writing since I discovered "Miss Myra's Gun". You are gifted in so many ways and it is a delight to read your accounts of work, family, guns and your missionary activities with folks who fear guns and people with guns.

I can't imagine how they relate the part of you they know to the sum of the parts. How can a caring professional and loving family man also be a person who claims and practices the rights and beliefs of our Founding Fathers?

I am a retired Air Force pilot (up from E1 in the Korean War)who grew up not far from you in Port Neches, Texas. Your blog is a favorite of mine because it always delivers new insight whether it is about guns, life in the South, family or our professional lives.

I share your grief today and I had to say so even though at my age I long ago learned that we have to suffer until we recover from our wounds.

morgan

8:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bummer about your dog. I've lost many of my pack and its always a loss. Reading your story made my eyes water. I mourned for Vivi in that moment. If there are dogs in heaven she'll be there for you.

8:22 PM  
Blogger TrueBlueSam said...

Deepest Sympathy to you and your family. David N (True Blue Sam)

9:15 PM  
Blogger fuzzys dad said...

I am sorry to hear about you loss.
I know the pain you are feeling. As I also have lost a beloved pet recently.

9:39 PM  
Blogger Edwardo said...

I am so sorry for your loss.

“Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the softly falling snow.
I am the gentle showers of rain,
I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am in the morning hush,
I am in the graceful rush
Of beautiful birds in circling flight.
I am the starshine of the night.
I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room.
I am in the birds that sing,
I am in each lovely thing.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there — I do not die. ”

-Mary Elizabeth Frye

10:26 PM  
Blogger phlegmfatale said...

As I read yours and Ilsa's posts, I looked at my two pups, both within the first 5 months of their sweet lives, and I dreaded the possibility of any horrid event which could separate them. I'm so dreadfully sorry for your family's loss. I know Vivi was a happy and lucky girl to be with you. I saw my little Valentine get run over by a car the day after her 14th birthday, and the driver didn't stop. I was lucky to have her 3 more years, but I've never been able to shake the angst I felt about the callous, careless way so many folks drive through residential areas. Bless little Vivi and Bless your family.

11:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautiful writing.

Sorry for your loss.

11:12 PM  
Blogger DouginSalcha said...

Xavier,

I am sorry for your loss and your pain. My wife and I got a puppy in July and she's just under 6 months old now. She has learned to play each of us against the other but I think I am her favorite (and I don't know what I would do if I lost her just now).

Last time we had a dog was nearly 10 years ago and he died of old age but it took me 10 years to accept the idea of another dog. Chacha wants to climb up in my lap at almost every opportunity (so I am beginning to know - again - the wonder of having an animal who's sole reason for being is love of her master).

I wish there was more that I cold say - some part of it that could take away the deep emptyness of your loss...

1:18 AM  
Blogger dropdownstairs said...

I lived in the country in the middle of a square mile of farmland.
Kippy was my one best friend, a big red mutt.
That was forty years ago, my folks sold the house, but Kippy is there still.

3:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Again. I'm so sorry for your loss. We're all thinking of you and your family.

Chris

5:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So sorry for your loss. Just damn. You are one of my favorite blogs and I try and visit every day. Google Rainbow Bridge. our pets are waiting for us and i got some up there also.my prayers sir.

5:57 AM  
Blogger the pawnbroker said...

my condolences, xavier...

i recently wrote about the loss of a beloved pet and the garden burial ritual, but "baby" was a very old cat and had lived a long and good life; he went to sleep in the arms of those who he loved and loved him.

would that all our animal friends...and we ourselves for that matter...could pass in that manner, and not on the street at the hands of careless strangers.

kind thoughts for you and your family, and most especially your heartbroken little girl.

jtc

8:19 AM  
Anonymous Sten said...

My wife doesn't understand why I always stop and try to recover dogs that look lost or are in danger from thoughtless drivers. I'm not always successful, but I try to.

I missed our first date because of it.

I'm sorry I couldn't have been there for yours.

Best wishes.

8:26 AM  
Anonymous Keith said...

Xav,
My thoughts are with you all.

We've lost 3 little members of our family this year.

It hurts like hell

Keith

8:43 AM  
Blogger Oldsmoblogger said...

I'm so sorry.

8:50 AM  
Anonymous perpster said...

A very sorrowful and tough situation. My condolences, and FWIW, you handled the situation as well as anyone could. I hope you and the family, including your other pooch, will be ok soon.

8:50 AM  
Blogger 10% said...

Isn't it funny how little bundles of hair, tooth, claw, and sinew can worm their way into our hearts? Sunday 11-9 was the one year anniversary of our cat Memo being killed by a car. Even as I write this, the tightness in my throat provides a bitter reminder of my feelings when I climed him at the vet.

You never get over the pain, you simply incorporate it and try and celebrate the time you did share.

11:44 AM  
Anonymous sutton said...

Sorry, Xavier. I was surprised by how much it affected me when my first dog died -- and he was old and it was hardly a surprise. I can't imagine what this feels like. My condolences.

12:40 PM  
Anonymous Martini said...

I am so sorry X, my condolences on your loss.

1:00 PM  
Blogger Jackie said...

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

Author unknown...

1:03 PM  
Blogger Jackie said...

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

Author unknown...

1:05 PM  
Anonymous Zac said...

Deepest symapthy. Your grace and eloquence in speaking about such a devestating moment speaks volumes about what kind of person you really are. I enjoy reading about your work to enlighten those who dont understand gun enthusiasts, as well as your pets. It will be sad not to see any posts about vivi on the blog.

Godspeed Vivi

Zac

3:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Xavier,

I have been reading your blog for two years now and have never been moved before to comment on your entries because I am a newbie shooter and didn't thing I had anything to add to your insights. When it comes to losing a dear fur child, I can empathize, having had the love of two great rescues and having suffered the loss of both.

My thoughts and condolences are with you.

4:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very sorry to hear of the loss of your dog. I know that doesn't help much, but thought I'd say it anyway.

5:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

X,

I truly am saddened by the loss of your Vivi. It's people like you who make this a better world to live in.

Godspeed to you and your family.

Best regards,
T.

5:15 PM  
Blogger Geoff said...

I'm so sorry.

My thoughts are with you and your whole family.

5:53 PM  
Blogger Old NFO said...

Sorry for your and your families loss Xavier. Losing a pet is never easy. Thoughts and prayers...

6:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My Pop emailed me asking me to read your commentaries: "Something in the Night" and "Transcendence." He was very careful to explain the order they should be read, and then encouraged me to read the blog comments. He lost his little dog about a year and half ago, and was so sad. His wife couldn't understand his sadness (no fault of hers); I had encouraged him to get a new dog, but he was adamantly opposed. Good news, he changed his mind about a month or so ago. My Pop raised me with a bunch of dogs (I'm not referring to my brothers :-)) I continue to have that same passion for animals; rescuing and sharing my home with 3 German Shepherds and 3 hounds. I was sent a lovely quote when a neighor had to let her dog pass on: "We who choose to surround ourselves with lives even more temporary than our own live within a fragile circle, easily and often breached. Unable to accept its awful gaps, we still would live no other way. We cherish memory as the only certain immortality, never fully understanding the necessary plan."-Irving Townsend
My deepest sympathy for your sorrow,Deb

11:50 PM  

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