Lessons From Our CritterKin: Part I
There was a soul who walked this earth with quiet paws. Completely comfortable within herself, she slept when and where she wanted, ate only when hungry and trusted her nose implicitly. The joys of her life were simple – sleeping in the sun, chasing crocheted mice filled with catnip, and rubbing her cheeks again and again and against her favorite brush.
From my perspective, only her sense of humor left something to be desired. The glee she exhibited at my reaction to being awakened by a paw in my mouth was downright unseemly. While I swore and spit and rinsed my mouth repeatedly with mouthwash, she would sit patiently by her food bowl with her eyes half closed and tail twitching as if to say, “If you’d only set your alarm clock.”
When she fell ill, I knew immediately. I took her to vets, puzzled over the small but tell tale signs of her discomfort with friends, but no one took me seriously. Instead of trusting her, I doubted myself. I let them tell me she was fine; that her cries were for attention; that she was just getting old. By the time the hard round lump appeared on the side of her neck – impeding her ability to swallow and breathe – it was too late for anything but palliative care.
At first I was inconsolable. I alternated between denying she was dying and berating myself for failing to see. Then I realized I was wasting time. She was dying, but she was here – curled purring at my side, staring at me with her marble green eyes, inviting me as she’d always done to simply be. This is what I learned.
To be with a dying friend is a gift beyond measure. The veil between realities is very thin, the distinction between energy and form a mere formality. The closer she moved towards death, the clearer her love became. If you are quiet and persistent enough – if you step even for an instant beyond physical belief – you will see what you have always known. Life is eternal.
Of this I am certain – she stayed as long as she could for me. When it was time, I was there for her in the one small way left for me to be. I made the call, held her close, and felt her last small breath when the vet stopped her heart. She did not suffer.
These days I share my life with another four-pawed friend whose presence makes her absence bearable. He is as big and goofy and clumsy as she was small and elegant and graceful. Still you have to wonder why he comes when I accidentally call her name, or rubs his cheek endlessly against my iPad when I replay videos of her rubbing her cheek against my hand. You have to wonder and allow yourself to be reminded that love is never lost just transformed. - Jena Ball
In loving memory of Gabby. RIP sweet girl.