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Letter: For whom does the bell toll?

This pandemic has cost so many lives. Caused so much grief to the survivors. This virus is not the only one to have darkened the earth.

Spanish Flu. Smallpox, Plague. Millions of lives. This is, as far as we know, the only planet that has life. Why? Especially if it’s so short. Rarely over 100 years. Why all the pain if it’s so short? If it really makes no difference, why?

I am 79. Did I change anything? Not really. I produced two sons who will live on after me. Will they change anything? No, not really. Make things easier for those living here, we hope, but is anything going to change? Man has produced many comforts for himself, but did he change anything? We still have many “killers.” Heart conditions. Blood conditions. Chemical conditions. Cancer.

My wife had cancer. My dog had cancer. Today I took my dog, “Sam,” to the vet. Just 10 days ago I noticed a lump on his right hip. It was a tumor. Treated him to reduce the tumor. Appeared to be working. Took him in to have it evaluated. News was not good.

It was recommended to put him to sleep. I couldn’t bring myself to be there when he passed. Did that once for another dog, “Lady,” another good friend.

My wife had her last radiation appointment at 2:50 in the afternoon. We stopped by the Madera Veterinary Clinic on the way, about 2 p.m. to say “Nighty night” to Sam. I always do that each night. They were going to take care of Sam after we left.

Went to Gloria’s appointment. She got right in and was done by 3 p.m. After your last treatment they have a little ceremony. They present a certificate to you, and you ring a bell. The bell rang and I thought: For whom does this bell toll? Gloria, for an extended life, or Sam, who was gone?

If no one pulled the rope, the bell would be silent, but the bell must ring.

We hope Gloria’s life is extended and without pain. Sam’s life is over and we avoided the pain, but not the grief.

Life is short. Too bad we don’t work harder to avoid the grief. If we are only just (here) and for no real purpose, then let’s try to make it a joyful time.

Would like to thank those at the Fresno Cancer Center and the Madera Veterinary Center.

— Bill Hoffrage,


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