No, I’m not having a Happy Easter. My wife has major surgery tomorrow, and my cat is dying. I’m not exactly feeling God’s love right now.
I don’t want to go into too much detail out of respect for her privacy, but my wife’s medical problem is not at all life threatening. She’s just got a body part that is starting to cause her some pain, and tomorrow a surgeon will go in and fix it. Then she’ll recover from the surgery and not be in pain any more. Our biggest concern is whether the procedure can be done without the need to open a large wound, which will affect her recovery time.
The relative ease with which my wife will get through this, however, is due to her good fortune at having been born at this point in human history. A hundred years ago, this would have been very dangerous surgery, probably not worth doing. And for the 250,000 or so years of human existence prior to that, anyone who had this condition would simply have to endure years of pain until they died.
The cat is a different story. When we came home on Friday night, we found our Ragdoll cat, Dozer, having some kind of seizure. When it was over, he seemed pretty beat up, so we took him to an emergency vet. They checked him out a bit and came up with three possible diagnoses: brain tumor, heart problem throwing clots to the brain, or a metabolic problem like renal failure. It would cost $1000 to $1500 to find out what the problem was, and only the last of the problems might be curable, and even then it wouldn’t last long in a 17-year-old cat.
The other option they offered us was euthanasia, with different pricing options for disposal of the remains.
My wife and I agreed that a ton of pointless medical care was not the answer, but we weren’t about to euthanize Dozer either, not without a chance to say goodbye. So we told them we weren’t going to take either of their options, and we took him home.
Essentially, we’ve chosen home hospice care for our cat. We’re going to take care of him and make him comfortable. And when we think he’s gone on as far as he can without suffering, we’ll take him back to the vet one last time.
All of this is buzzing around in my head this weekend, along with the lyrics to “Born This Way,” which I’ve been listening to thanks to the Weird Al v.s. Lady Gaga kerfuffle. And since Weird Al pointed out that it’s “an earnest human rights anthem,” I actually paid attention to the lyrics. Here are a few lines:
My mama told me when I was young
We are all born superstars
She rolled my hair and put my lipstick on
In the glass of her boudoir
“There’s nothin’ wrong with lovin’ who you are”
She said, “‘Cause he made you perfect, babe”
“So hold your head up, girl and you you’ll go far,
listen to me when I say”
I’m beautiful in my way,
‘Cause God makes no mistakes
I’m on the right track, baby
I was Born This Way
In these lines, Lady Gaga is making the argument that if you believe in God — at least the Christian version of God — then you shouldn’t worry that there’s something wrong with you just because you are different from other people. Whether it’s your skin color or your sexual identity, you were born that that way because God made you that way. As a creation of God, you are as worthy and good as any other person. Because God made us, we are all superstars.
It’s an uplifting message, and if you’re a minority child in an all-white school, or a young man who’s worried about they way he feels when he looks at other men, it’s a message you may benefit from hearing. God made you too, and you’re every bit the equal of every other person.
But, I began to wonder in my dark mood, what if the thing that makes you different is somewhat less benign than skin color or sexual identity. What if it’s something that is rather more physiological and objectively undesireable? What if what makes you different is that you have Huntington’s disease? Or congenital heart problems? Or cystic fibrosis?
I’m not saying you can’t hold your head up and be proud of who you are. Of course you can. You may still be on the right track, and you may still go far. However, contra Lady Gaga, God did not make you perfect. And if God makes no mistakes, then what the hell kind of sadistic fuck of a God gives cystic fibrosis to babies?
I used cystic fibrosis as an example for a reason. It’s a congenital defect, something you’re born with, so even in the cosmic sense, you can’t have done anything to deserve it. Also, when cystic fibrosis was first diagnosed, and for all of human history before that, it killed most babies before their first birthday. Nowadays, medical science extends the life of cystic fibrosis patients a little bit further every year, with the current predicted age somewhere in the mid-30s. God was killing babies for thousands of generations. It took humans to save them.
Truth be told, I’m also pretty angry about the cat. Dozer is a big, lovable, loving bundle of fluff, and he’s seen me through some tough times, including the deaths of my parents. And all he wants in return is food, sleep, and petting. At the end of the day, when I sit down to watch some television, he hops up on the couch and snuggles up next to me. I pet him, and he purrs. We have a system that works.
I’ve always known he wouldn’t be around forever, but I was kind of hoping he’d just go peacefully in his sleep. Instead, I’m supposed to believe that our loving, omnipotent God has decided to torture him with convulsions.
What kind of God kills babies and tortures kitties? No wonder I’m not a very religious person.
Happy Easter, motherfuckers.
Update: I’m a bit less angry at the world.