Wednesday, October 23, 2013

"Some Infinities Are Bigger Than Other Infinities"

Feef at the vet's

In John Green's heartbreakingly beautiful book The Fault in Our Stars, his heroine, Hazel, a teen who has been fighting cancer, tells us: "I am not a mathematician, but I know this.  There are infinite numbers between 0 and 1,  There's .2 and .12 and .112 and an infinite collection of others.  Of course there is a bigger infinite set of numbers between 0 and 2, or between 0 and a million.  Some infinities are bigger than other infinities."

Without giving any spoilers, I'll mention that this mind- blowing thought comes to stand for the length of time Hazel has with Gus, the boy she loves, who also has cancer.  Though their time together could turn out to be brief, Hazel comes to feel that it's nonetheless an infinity.  

This notion of smaller and bigger infinities comes to mind tonight as I sit on the couch, my dogs nearby.  One of the sorrows of loving our pets is how painfully brief their lifespans are compared to ours.  We can love them from puppyhood to their old age and beyond, love them infinitely, but our time with them will be a relatively small infinity.  

When I woke up this morning, I could tell my dog Ophelia (Feefee for short) wasn't doing well.  She seemed uncomfortable and lethargic, and she wasn't exactly thrilled about the food I gave her as a test of her will to live.  And when Feef's not thrilled about peanut butter and cheese dogs...well, I can't finish that sentence because today was the first time that's ever happened.

Thanks to a friend who offered to teach my afternoon class, I was able to take Feef to the vet.  We pulled into the parking lot, and Feef suddenly perked up, ready to wag and bark and run in and see the vet and technician who are always so sweet to her.  I felt a bit foolish for getting so alarmed.  But then a blood test confirmed that Feef has started to bleed internally, as we knew she eventually would.  

Still, she seemed so happy, so present, in the doctor's office. It didn't feel like her time had come--almost, but not quite. So I brought her home, knowing we have an even smaller infinity than we had just twenty-four hours ago.  We took a walk, albeit a short one, in the crisp October air.  And tonight, in honor of Feef, we'll be having her favorite food again--pizza once more.  



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