Ancestral energy lives in the stars above us, the stones beneath us. Their memory gathers in oceans, rivers and seas. It hums its silent wisdom within the body of every tree.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Night Vigil

Zami (l), still kicking around, and Luna (r), about 2001. Photo by Rahdne Zola.
I don’t lay claim to a specific religion, but my spirituality is very important to me. Once upon a time, I didn’t know you could be spiritual without being religious, and thanks to my parents’ love of camping and my love of literature, I discovered that my spirituality resonates strongest when I connect to the natural world.
In a lot of ways, having pets is part of that for me, connecting in to another creature, learning to co-habitat, sharing trust. It’s almost been five years since the death of our petite tiger, Luna. My experience with her loss was the impetus for this blog. We’ve lost another cat since then, and gained a new one.
I was on my way to bed, just after midnight. Luna, our normal bedwarmer, was curled up on the couch, which was strange but not unusual. I might have kept going. I was tired, thinking about my schedule for the next day.
It was a singular moment, where I stopped and I looked at her and she looked at me without lifting her head. It wasn’t a brain moment. It wasn’t a heart moment. It was an intuitive moment. Like when your skin knows a storm is coming. When you know you eyes are watching you even though you can’t see anyone. When you know the house is too quiet and the children aren’t making a peep. In that moment, I knew in my body, in my gut, that something important was happening.
I sat on the couch, waiting for her to climb in my lap, but she just sighed. I scooped her up gingerly and slid her onto my lap, paying attention to her discomfort and distress. I thought I was hurting her more and I tried to put her down, but she grabbed my arm and whimpered. She didn’t want to be alone.
It took her a good twenty minutes to get comfortable and settle, draped in my lap, her head thrown over my wrist. When she finally stilled, so did I. I didn’t move again until dawn.
There’s something about a spirituality that asks you to immerse yourself in the living world that keeps you present in your body, in every minute that ticks by. Luna and I were connected. I could sense death sniffing around her. I was so afraid that she might pass at any moment that I remember every minute of that vigil.
Luna slept for five short chunks of time, touching my bare forearm. When she didn’t feel well, she liked to touch bare skin. It comforted her. As the night progressed I spoke softly to her, telling her we’d get her to the vet as soon as they opened, telling her we’d get her medicine. I tried to keep her calm. I sang to her. And I stayed. Luna didn’t like to be alone.
That last night with Luna was the last night we had together. It felt like such a helpless thing, sitting in stillness for hours, ignoring my own needs so she could sleep comfortably. Her coat was like rabbit fur and she had a mean left hook- and wasn’t afraid to use it if you tried to tell her no and she really didn’t want to hear it. She considered herself part of the family, not a pet.
That night when she lay weakly in my lap, I remembered the small kitten with big eyes and big ears who crawled up me at the open adoption day, digging her claws into my shoulder to keep above the throngs of grabby children, shaking. We learned a lot from each other in our ten years together and I learned a lot about myself that last night, too.
I learned I can set aside my fear for the care of someone else. I learned that I can make hard choices in the face of someone else’s suffering. I learned that it’s more important for me to face a hard truth than to hide from it.

In her last moments, she was curled like a bunny in the vet office, head low, quietly gazing up at us. We were waiting to find out what kind of medicine we needed for her, ignorant of the aggressive tumor that had swallowed up the vital organs in her abdomen. But she knew. Animals are more connected to that spiritual energy than we are. Luna knew. She was just waiting until we were ready to let her go. 

1 comment:

  1. Like all of your entries in this blog, this was beautifully written; however, this one is particularly poignant. I've admired watching you unfold and grow through the process of both losing a feline-child and maintaining this blog. You have a way of putting your emotions into words that I appreciate. Thanks for being you.


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