Written by Thomas Landes
In today’s blog we are taking a slightly different approach with an opportunity to highlight a poem written by a third-year veterinary student after learning with CAETA. In addition to being a beautiful and touching tribute, may this serve as a reminder that the future of quality end-of-life care is in the hands of these students, as future veterinarians. Thank you Thomas for your words, and your dedication.
“Today is the Day” – Thomas Landes
Today is the day
We can’t sit and play
A walk perhaps,
down memory lane.
We sit and chat,
some tears, they flow,
my face begins to stain.
I fear, I am wrong, I’ve already done some harm;
the doctor says ‘no,’ don’t be so alarmed.
They ask if I am ready; if we can proceed
How do I know? How can one know?
Can someone, I beg, be in my stead?
Instead, I ponder, dwell & muse as I scratch my head
Today is the day can we just let it end.
No, no, not end. DON’T say end;
All of it, these thoughts, swarm in my head.
I look down & all around
there’s my daughter, my husband and my..my..
sweet, sweet friend…my Angel…my darling Angel.
Does it have to end?
Mrs. Daisy please have a tissue.
WE all know how much this pains you.
Alone you are not,
for fear, shame & pain you are fraught.
But your family is here & your emotions WE can steer,
for a community of love surrounds us.
Now Mrs. Daisy, please don’t cry
and ask why-oh-why
did my sweet angel have to meet this demise?
For today is the day, yes,
today we had elected
for your beloved Angel;
her mass we had detected.
No, no, no don’t get me wrong,
for knowing the cause, how sweet it seems,
does little to stop the dreaded pause
of hope and surety.
Oh no, please now,
don’t be filled with so much uncertainty.
I begin to say her head may sway,
her paws may splay and her emotions can betray,
as we start to feel wary about the procedure.
I reassure…saying sure, sure, sure
it is all normal behavior.
Her pain will fade.
Her heart will slow.
But by all means,
no, no, no…
it is not time to go.
I push the serum, blue it is dyed,
and warn of her deep breathing -an agonal sigh.
Soon they start to feel the part that their sweet Angel
is ready to depart.
Today is the day, they start to strain
as they wish to thwart it: ‘it,’ the pain.
Calmly, I say, your choice was apt, your decision to act
and your love never faltered;
this table now a secular altar.
The pain so real,
as the fear draws near,
I am happy to hear how they feel.
“Doctor: Today is the day,
yes, a day unlike others,
in which we must, despite who it bothers,
say our final goodbye.
Our feelings and thoughts, now totally frayed,
have you, our doctor, to thank.
For your presence and comfort, can now make
our doubt somehow allayed.
I know I am not ready; how can I be?
But you, so steady, have been with us from the start
Today is the day,
I can truly say, that, a doctor of veterinary medicine,
is really the art
of providing the lost, torn and melancholic
with trusting company, love and compassion
right from the start.
Today is the day, doctor, do not be afraid
for our bond has only grown stronger.
Her pain has fleeted,
we tried to defeat it,
but now we, know, it is quite alright to long her.
Our Angel may rest,
in whatever posthumous quest
her spirit can act to conjure.
Our pain is alive and strong as steel,
but we can finally say,
today is the day
we put her pain away.”
- The concepts of this poem were heavily influenced by the following papers:
- Adams , C. L., Bonnett, B. N., & Meek, A. H. (n.d.). Exploring the Bond: Predictors of owner response to companion animal death in 177 clients from 14 practices in Ontario. JAVMA.
- Shaw, J. R., & Lagoni, L. (2007). End-of-Life Communication in Veterinary Medicine: Delivering Bad News and Euthanasia Decision Making. Elsevier Saunders, 37, 95–108.
- Spitznagel, M. B., Marchitel, B., & Gardner, M. (n.d.). Euthanasia from the Veterinary Client’s Perspective: Psychosocial Contributors to Euthanasia Decision Making.
- All class materials that may have shaped or influenced my understanding of the subject, especially in regards to client-veterinarian interpersonal skills and interactions
If you are interested in learning with CAETA, you can find all of our available online modules at www.learn.caetainternational.com