Wednesday, April 29, 2015

A Celebration of Life and One Extraordinary Soul

One of the hardest things to experience in life is to watch a beloved pet age.  Some of you may recall that back in October my cat, Hunter, who will be 18 in May, started displaying certain symptoms that required medical care. After spending countless dollars and seeing three different vets, the only diagnosis confirmed was that he had the onset of kidney failure (although just barely, especially for a cat his age).  They could NOT figure out the cause of the blood in his urine or the drastic weight loss. I suspected bladder cancer, but the vets were doubtful since it is rare in cats.

About three weeks ago, the blood in his urine increased and.....increased. I took Hunter back to the vet where they finally confirmed that he does, in fact, have bladder cancer. Besides being terribly skinny, his demeanor remained the same. As he pranced around the vet's office lapping up affection from everyone, the vet agreed - we aren't quite at the stage where humane euthanasia is necessary. But for how long we do not know.

We have been undergoing hospice care ever since.  Up until this past weekend, he has continued to amaze me each day with his positive spirit and will to fight.   However, the last few days have reminded me how sick he really is and that perhaps "decision time" is nearing.

"Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened." ~ Anatole France

It's funny how in these past several months it no longer bothers me when Hunter wakes me up at the crack of dawn (or earlier).  Instead I relish in the sound of his meows regardless of the time.  And, now, after years of shushing him in the middle of the night, I finally celebrate the sound of his voice - regardless of time - knowing that I have been blessed with one more day with him.

I've also been treasuring his cuddles more than ever, recognizing these moments for what they are - my last opportunities to capture the feel of his fur next to my skin, the warmth of his body, the touch of his wet nose and rough tongue on my hand. Because when he is gone, THESE are the things I will miss the most. On many levels, I feel his increased affection is his way of clinging to me and my touch, my warmth, the same way I am clinging to his.  He is gathering up strength to leave while giving me the strength to survive his loss. In essence, we are bottling up each other's love.



At the same time, I have been fighting the tendency we have to treat the dying as if they are already dead. When, in actuality, they are the same living, breathing souls that entered our hearts all those years ago and set up house.  A friend recently reminded  me that it's how we live our moments, how we embrace them, that's important.

And, so with that reminder, I'm trying to gather up the courage to do right by Hunter - whatever the hell that means.  But I know in the end, I will look back at Hunter's remarkable 18 years with me and I will know that I wouldn't give up one day spent with him to have the pain I feel today taken away.  In the end, it would have all been worth it, to have been blessed with his love and companionship. 

And, then, when I'm ready, I will go to the shelter and, in his honor, I will rescue another beautiful soul and begin the journey all over again.  Because if there is one thing Hunter has taught me, it is to love without restraints regardless of fear. Therefore, in honoring his spirit and zest for life, I will do just that for as long as I live.



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10 comments:

  1. It takes heart and courage to see the things for what they truly are. To celebrate the moments we have, because what's life but thousands and thousands more of tiny little moments that brought us joy, fear, desperation, heartache, love and every other emotion imaginable. Life itself in all its diversity and magnitude. We can climb the tallest mountains of fear just to look down from the peak, knowing, it was not fear at all that kept us from climbing for so long. It was doubt, us being unsure of our faculties, our capacity to embrace life, all those little moments.
    Every single one of them is worth the attention and passing we only tend to give the seemingly larger transitions of life. Every little soul that accompanies us on our journey is telling us one thing. Who we really are.
    All the best to Hunter. Hope he will not experience pain when it is his time to pass. He will go when he's convinced in his soul that you can go on without him. His meows will echo on in your heart, reminding you, not of the loss you eventually are to experience, but of the importance of cherishing every single moment you had with him. For they will not come back.
    He's returning to the beginning, to innocence.
    Celebrate his life, celebrate what he gave you, the times you were cuddled up on the sofa. The times he purred to cheer you up when you felt sad or insecure.
    Remember the smiles you could not imagine showing in a moment like that. But you had no other choice but to smile when that wet nose touched yours.
    So innocent, yet so much wiser than we are. More human than we could ever hope to be.
    Animals are irreplaceable. Like smiling, like hope itself. May this give you the courage and strength to face what lies ahead of you. The both of you. Beautiful blog post. Just beautiful.

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    1. Thank you for your wise words. I just took him outside for the first time in probably two years. But i wanted him to enjoy the sun on his back and the grass on his feet. I wanted him to hear the birds and feel the wind. He seemed happy. Needless to say, I took a ton of photos. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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    2. passion... Not passing
      But you probably figured that out already.

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    3. Beautiful. words.

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  2. Just beautiful.....Yes, you were truly bless having Hunter...

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  3. wonderful writing, those emotions i could feel them erupting from these words

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    1. Thanks for reading and commenting. He will without doubt leave a void in my life when he departs, but will live on in my heart forever.

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