Our elderly cat Bebe passed away suddenly, a couple of mornings ago. Although she was 14 years and change, it was totally unexpected and a poignant reminder of the fragility of this thing we call "life."
In that strange way of cats (and other animals, too, I am sure), she sought out a dark, quiet and hidden spot for her final moments. No drama, no fanfare, no fuss. When we finally located her she was still "alive" but her eyes were vacant and looking at something not of this world.
BeBe the cat
It reminded me of a hospital visit some 20+ years ago, to see my former mother-in-law who was terminal with cancer.
We were talking to her, and she was definitely "there" and would nod weakly and squeeze my ex's hand to let us know she'd heard, but then her eyes suddenly got that "vacant" look... and even though the whirring equipment monitoring her vitals insisted she was "alive" for almost two more hours, we could tell that she had "left."
It was as if there truly was a "spirit" that departed, a couple of hours before the actual "death" of the meat suit that had been home to that spirit.
And so it also was with our fluffy white cat, whose breath and heartbeat continued for another 20 minutes while Mrs. Denmarkguy held her, wrapped in a blanket... even though she was no longer the cat we knew and loved.
As I write these words, I am sitting in the waiting room of our local hospital imaging clinic, doing something I really thought I would never do: writing a post on my phone.
I am doing this because Mrs Denmarkguy is having a bunch of diagnostic scans done, in response to one of the world's most frightening sentences: "I found this lump..."
Whereas our anxieties and fears are palpable, we are holding tight to the desired outcome that it is nothing more that an irritated lymph node or perhaps a benign subcutaneous cyst.
Meanwhile, I find myself considering that just a couple of days ago we had what felt like the greatest day in years, and now it is being followed immediately by tragedy and a cancer scare.
Intellectually I can wrap myself around the old saying "in all things, balance," but right now those words feel like nothing more than an empty platitude; something we tell ourselves to feel like we are "taking the high road" and rising above whining about the unfairness of life and our need to blame something — or someone — when life really sucks.
I have often pondered the teachings of "non-attachment" and how they are — or are not — useful or relevant to our lives. A lot of times "non-attachment" comes across as a deeper sensation of simply not caring about anything.
When I consider some of the issues I am currently working on with my therapist, I keep coming back to the reality that what is typically what gives our lives the most meaning are our relationships and connections, be they with other people, or even with fluffy white cats.
Much of my early life was dominated by avoiding connection, because we'd move so often — typically from country to country — that "forming deep friendships" was was pretty much an exercise in emotional pain, because you knew (in advance) that you'd have to end the friendship in a few months.
I look at that, and then I recognize why the death of a cat hits so hard: Even though the people would endlessly come and go, at least the cats would go with us, thereby offering a small point of stability and connection that would not have to be broken.
Except, of course, for the fact that the lifespan of a cat is typically only 13-17 years...
Rest in Peace....
In the end, I suppose, we have to be content with good moments; happy memories, for there is no such thing as actual happiness, as an ongoing thing.
For the vast majority of us, life is hard... and we spend far more time overcoming various forms of hardships, difficulties and setbacks than anything else. And perhaps that is simply how things are supposed to be.
For the moment, BeBe's passing fills us with heartwrenching sadness; in time we will reach a point of mostly remembering how she would bounce happily through the house, chasing a moth or even something completely imaginary!
Meanwhile, we have little time to linger on these thoughts... while we anxiously await the outcome of these test results.
Thanks for reading, and hope you are having a great day!
(Another #creativecoin creative non-fiction post)
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