Experiencing Death After An Awakening
On Sunday, March 18th, the body of my feline companion of eighteen years took its very last gasping breath and then lay still, emptied of the little spark of awareness that I had known and loved as Frodo, my little fuzz-butt goofy-girl kitty. (What can I say, I’m not very good at guessing the gender of baby cats).
It was a death that was slow in coming; over her last year, her chronic arthritis and kidney disease started to worsen more quickly, though you wouldn’t know it to watch her launch her tiny spring-loaded body onto the top of the neighbor’s fence – or the top of the kitchen counter to loudly request food, more likely. But by mid-January, keeping her fed, comfortable and groomed required almost around-the-clock care. And it was in this setting that my next lesson about death and loss unfolded.
To be clear, this was not my first trip down this road; I’ve shared my home with feline companions for much of my life and have lost these friends to both old age and accidents. In the past, each of these deaths was filled with not just sadness but a sense of grief that I imagine marks the difference between those of us who have ‘pets’ and those of us who have ‘feline family members’. This was especially true a few years ago during the death of Sam, Frodo’s younger stepbrother (someone is a JRR Tolkien fan) who died of intestinal cancer at the age of ten. Over just a few months, I went from trying to save his life to watching him waste away and die and it was heartbreaking. I can still remember the tears streaming down my face as I sat with him and scritched his ears, already living in a time when I would never be able to see him again. And I remember the anger at a universe that had this animal suffering so.