There has been a great gift for me in being with my cat, Edward, through his illness and death. From the time I knew he was dying I grieved deeply. I found it hard to speak about it without sobbing, I cancelled all my clients and I just stayed with the process – with him and with myself for what turned out to be a week. My heart just hung open and there was a deep sweetness in the pain. I was reminded of the wonderful Leunig’s poem – I dont recall it exactly, but it was about grief – letting your heart hang open, let the wind blow through it, the sun warm it, a stray dog lick it, and a bird to sing in it. People in the street sensed the total unguardedness of the heart and smiled. I told him I was OK, he could go. I got homeopathics for all of us – including Maisie, the dog. Still he stayed, unable now to smile at me, but still coming on wobbly legs for a cuddle. By Monday it was clear that he was suffering, and I had a decision to make. I had thought it was his own journey, a journey I could only take with him so far. I wanted him to know for himself when his time had come, not be over-ridden by me.
By Tuesday, I just wanted him not to suffer any more. People who loved him called in, some 10 in all – most calling round to say goodbye, not realising how close his passing was. That was Edward – without his ever uttering a word, we all recognised the love that he was – not in any sentimental way, but in recognition of our own Essence, that which is our true nature. He was often feisty, asking for what he wanted clearly, now I had to decide for him. It was St. Valentine’s Day. What a perfect day for a Lover to pass over – all that love in the air. A dear friend called over spontaneously in the late afternoon – and it was time. I called the vet, asked if he would come here, to my home and graciously, with great heart, he agreed. We sat on the back deck, in the beautiful light of the coming evening, the sun lighting the trees and the ocean, and he died peacefully in my arms. I felt calm and honoured. I sat with him on my lap for half an hour or so. There was tremendous energy moving through his body. It vibrated into my hands and into my lap and continued for about 25 mins. The whole house was full of love – a full, rich presence.
I laid him on his favourite chair, and my friend and I ate fish and chips! Later we took him out to the garden to bury, but when we got there, I knew I wasn’t ready, so he went back to the chair where he stayed all night. Maisie kept running round the house, looking at the ceiling …….. a bit freaked out! The next morning, early, a couple of friends and I buried him – in his favourite spot in the garden. We sang, read poems, laid flowers and cried. We lit candles and incense and later this week, I threw some sunflower seeds where he is buried – I hope they grow with big shiny, smiling faces!
“I have known three Zen masters in my life, and all of them were cats”