To honor the earthly transition of a sentient being’s life when you are also responsible for this passage in terms of selecting the day and time as well as medical caretakers is both daunting and humbling as I recently discovered. A fair amount of courage and deep trust not only with the other being but with yourself is required. Throw into the mix the emotional roller coaster for holding space both for yourself and for the other being and well, you’ve got a situation that can only be described with the following words: haunting, beautiful, intimate, overwhelming, magical, heartbreaking, illuminating, peaceful, and any other words closely associated with these.
You may have words of your own to add to my list based on your own experience of assisting a beloved animal companion with their end of life transition – I’d love to know what they are. Maybe they would help to fill the void that going on six weeks past my Kiki’s last day of earthly life I still feel. It’s been a busy time to be sure with other new beginnings rushing forward to take up space and here’s the thing – they are not of her unique life energy fingerprint and so are not surprisingly a bit empty despite their good. This was my first experience of such a transition as my other cat, Casbah, left while I was at work some 28 years ago and before the birth of my first son. Quite surprisingly, when I was agonizing over what date to tell the vet to come to assist Kiki, Casbah came through clearly with a statement of “I wished I had helped you more.” After all this time – at least in my life which I’m sure doesn’t exist where he is – there was a desire to support and help me with my burden. To somehow have changed the circumstances of his own transition to one similar to Kiki’s so that I would know what to expect. Aside from a beautiful feeling of love for me I was reminded once again of what Thich Nhat Hanh would say is our “illusion of separateness”. Casbah wasn’t there only for me – he came forward to receive Kiki into the realm of soul because as he was bonded with me I was the link between the two of them. The physical process of the transition was explained well enough by the vet who came to my home – a lovely, compassionate woman who seemed perfectly comfortable with tears, grief and endings. What a gift she was in overseeing this process for both of us and ensuring that the body released its hold as gently as possible. I made and then cancelled The Appointment several times as the life force energy within Kiki ebbed and flowed in a way that I know is natural in a window of transition. I am grateful for my gifts of animal communication because she said several times in the month leading up to her passing “I’m ready” as clear as the bells ringing from a sacred site. The night before as she slept on my pillow – her recent usual place instead of by my side – I thought about staying awake while she slept because the pain of separation was so deep. In the end I reasoned that I needed to be in as sound a state of mind and body as I could be – for her. Because this wasn’t about me – it was about Kiki. It was the same reason I chose not to keep her ashes as I could feel my attachment begin with the idea of consistent physical representation of her in my home once again. If you are one of those who keeps the bodily remains this isn’t a condemnation, only a recognition of how I was and my desire to release her as fully as I possibly could. Her actual death was strangely beautiful and the weightlessness of her body afterward was astonishing absent soul and life force. Her sibling cat of 13 years, Lacey, was very present and sat just behind me during the whole process as if to state to both of us “I have your back.” Lacey wasn’t interested in seeing Kiki’s body later on and again, I think her choice was a personal one as other animals may feel differently. And after all, the respect of our personal choices was what was paramount then and now. I’ve had glimpses of Kiki in the rooms of my house and felt her presence strongly over the last month and a half which is a lovely reminder of our mutual choice to share a lifetime together and the bright awarenesses we each gained from our relationship. Her transition was not the culmination of these “aha” moments, rather it feels like the beginning of an entirely new dynamic with her for which I am, and always will be, extremely grateful. I’ll see you on the other side, Miss Kiki, and I love you.