Another Circle of Life is Complete

February 5, 2012
 

Judas and Hercules come full circle

A circle of life that started almost 18 years ago was completed on Friday when we picked up the remains of my red tabby Judas and laid her to rest. I had already bought a keepsake (4”) cloisonné vase similar to the one holding some of the ashes from her brother Hercules (4/5/11). The one for Judas is white with flowers, while Hercules’ vase has a blue design. They will drape a box holding their collars and which also has a photo of the two of them when they were fur babies.

Fulfilling her life lesson

Hercules lasted almost 17 years and Judas had an additional ten months. She had that time to complete her life lesson to be independent since she’d been subservient to her brother while he was around. She let my new rescue cat Skylar know who was boss when he came on the scene last October. He was only allowed to get so close. They took turns lying next to me on the bed during the night until she lost her strength to jump up that high. In the end, she didn’t care where Skylar was. And, she just wanted to be left alone. It was this behavior that triggered me to know the signs of her being ready to depart this physical dimension.

How brave she was

Amazingly, she never cried even though the squamous cell carcinoma (oral cancer) that wracked her mouth must have been painful. She was stoic until the end. I gave her pain medication on the advice of her doctor so that she could be as normal as possible during her last days.

Judas lived her life according to her rules and didn’t want to be bothered with fussy treatments like sub-Q fluids or forced feeding. So I had to just let her tell me when it was time to say good-bye. When a blood vessel in her lip burst on Tuesday January 31 and the bleeding just wouldn’t stop, I knew the decision was in God’s hands. Judas was not meant to see February. Events fell into place quickly with me taking her, aided by a dear friend, to be put to sleep and then cremated.

A lovely ceremony

Judas Celebration of Life Service

Being an ordained interfaith minister, I wrote a celebration of life ceremony to remember Judas, similar to the one that I’d done for Hercules ten months prior. Her service was on a lovely winter day, at 2pm. It was sunny and about 50 degrees with the days before and after being much more dismal weather. The ground was soft due to the rain the day before making digging a hole for her ashes easy. God’s plan was in play and all went smoothly. I read a letter that I’d written to her extolling all her virtues and how much I loved her. Then my friend and I buried her ashes next to the same rock where we buried her brother’s remains last year.

Together again

Now the two of them, Hercules and Judas are reunited body and soul to play in the meadow together waiting for me to come at Rainbow Bridge.

Another circle of life is complete.


Judas crossed Rainbow Bridge

February 1, 2012

ImageYesterday at 2:10 p.m. EST my gorgeous red tabby Judas crossed over the bridge to meet her brother Hercules (4/5/2011). Judas had the same chronic renal failure indications that Hercules died of, but what actually took her down was oral cancer. When I couldn’t stop the bleeding in her mouth, I knew it was time to take her in. God was with me as my pet sitter had come over to say good-bye and so could run and get me some cloths to wipe her mouth. My guy friend, who normally doesn’t come over on Tuesdays, decided it was a better day and showed up exactly when I needed him to take me to the VET for the 2pm appt I was able to get just minutes after all this occurred. Everything fell into place once the decision was made. Thus, as I was crying hysterically, I knew I was being guided to do the right thing.

 Prior to this point, I was concerned that I might take even one precious day from Judas. How could I cut the life of such a beautiful creature by even one day if she was meant to have it. But it wasn’t in my hands. When a capillary broke in her diseased lower gum, the blood was pouring out. I carried her into the Vet in my arms with blood all over my shoulder where she had tried to bury her face. Up until the end, she looked to me for comfort, something she’d done since she was a kitten all the years ago.

 Both Hercules and Judas were found in my backyard the summer of 1994. He was named for coming to me first, being the brave one and she was named for being sneaky, grabbing the food I put out and then running away. I loved them both dearly, but each had different personalities. Judas, being a female was subservient to Hercules until her passed. She’s now had about 10 months to be the top cat, independent and stubborn until the end. She refused to allow me to do the fluid IV so I put Normysol solution in wet food 4 times a day. Then a few days ago, she started to refuse the doctored food (also with many supplements to try to overcome the cancer). So, I yielded to her will and gave her the plain wet food. She still barely ate.

 Yet, yesterday morning, she got up a bit brighter, had her pain medication, and ate more than usual. But the second meal at noon was fatal when a capillary broke and blood poured out. I had to take my beautiful girl in. She died in my arms with me telling her what a wonderful girl she had been, and how she couldn’t have been loved any more. I knew her soul had left when I saw her body lying there.

 I took her home to show my new rescue cat Skylar, whom I got in October. He hadn’t bonded with her yet and so seemed unimpressed. I haven’t noticed any change in him but I wanted to do this any way. Then I took Judas in a little box, with the help of a friend, down to be cremated. I will pick her up on Friday and hold a ceremony for her. Her ashes will be buried next to her brother so they can play forever at Rainbow Bridge. Already Hercules is telling me that she is there and not to worry about her. Still my heart is breaking for my beautiful girl.


Time to Say Good-bye

January 29, 2012

I can tell that it’s almost time to say goodbye to my beautiful girl; my precious Judas that has been with me since I first laid eyes on her almost 18 years ago when she was a little red tabby kitten.  I found Judas with her brother, whom I eventually named Hercules, and several other litter mates playing in my backyard one summer day. These little babies were so cute, but fortune was to give me just the two. The others went different ways. Hercules and Judas were named for being brave and for being sneaky. The names just popped into my head as I played with them over the summer until they became friendlier and lost some of their original feral behavior.

And the years passed. Hercules was part of the family for almost 17 years when he succumbed to chronic renal failure last April. Judas, on the other hand, has hardly ever been ill, or even needed to go to the Vet other than for routine visits. She’s been such a good girl over these many years. Right from the beginning, she looked towards me for protection. I remember once when her brother was picking on her and she jumped into my lap and wagged her tail as if to say, “Ha, now you can’t get me!” Even now, she comes to tell me when she wants more food or when her pain is getting intolerable.

You see, Judas has been diagnosed with a kind of cancer of the mouth. It all started in early December when one of her big teeth fell out. I didn’t think much of it; I took her to the vet, got antibiotic, came home and let her eat what she wanted. She didn’t seem to lose her appetite even though without her big front tooth it was more difficult to eat. But the empty space didn’t heal; in fact, the whole got bigger… a lot bigger. By the time I went back to the Vet about 4 weeks later, several more teeth fell out and there was a huge hole in her mouth. That’s when I was told of the diagnosis – squamous cell carcinoma or oral cancer. In addition, the left eye was shifting. There’s something called a third eye lid that can come down. Sometimes it shifts back by itself, but not in this case. Because the cancer is eating away at the jaw bone, the eye socket is weakening and the eye is literally shifting. Poor Judas can barely see out of that eye. Ok, so one eye is enough right?

Well yes, but I’m also told that there’s lots of pain this this type of cancer, so I’ve been giving Judas lots of pain meds…. Very expensive pain meds I might add. Of course, she’s worth it, but I started to wonder if the medication was just covering up a cat that was ready to let go and I was keeping her here. Much like putting someone on pain meds to keep them alive in the hospital when their bodies are racked with cancer. Wow… it’s the same thing.

Like many pet owners who adore their fur babies, I spent many hours researching this disease on the internet, ordering supplements, Chinese medicine and any nutritional concoction that might help Judas. I set up a vitamin container that I got from the local pharmacy, the kind with multiple bins for each day with flip lids so that I could prepare a week’s worth of her regimen at a time. For the last few weeks, Judas seemed to be stable and I was very happy… and perhaps a bit proud. I was going to beat this thing. Beat death? Denial? Yeah, I guess so. For in the end, the Chinese medicine billed to stop bleeding did so for a few days, but the bleeding is back today with a vengeance.

I thought I might get another month for Judas, but as of tonight I’m not so sure. She’s had a good life. She’s been loved as much or more than is possible to love anyone or anything and she’s loved me in return unconditionally. Up until a few days ago she was still jumping on the bed and sleeping next to me. Now she’s staying closer to her little beddy although she still can walk around the house. I knew that when the right time came I would know and I’m starting to feel that it may be time to say good-bye.


The Second Time Around

November 7, 2011

Just to recap, in my last blog article, I noted that I had to give a cat rescue back as she had a biting problem. This scenario occurred at just about the six month marker of my darling Hercules’ passing. I totally believe in synchronicity and when I got the itch to get another cat as a fur pal for his sister Judas, I went with the feeling. Ok, so the first try didn’t work out for her, but it did work out for the foster lady and for my coaching her. All wasn’t for naught. It just wasn’t the right situation for Judas.

My initial reaction after this mean cat was out of the house was, whew, I’m so glad it was gone. However, the itch to get another cat as a companion for Judas didn’t stop. Perhaps it was Hercules in spirit letting me know it was time since I really felt him guiding me to another cat that coincidentally looked a lot like him. Initially, I didn’t like the idea of getting another cat that reminded me of my precious angel, but I went with what I sensed would be best for Judas.

How did I pick this new rescue cat? I did a thorough search of the available rescues within 50 miles for about 2 weeks, looking at what must have been hundreds of photos and even talking to some people about the best gender and type for a fur pal for my 17 year old female. I was advised to look for a male about 5-7 years old, since a younger cat might be too rambunctious for an older cat, and a female, as I had found out before would be too competitive. Whereas before I had looked at the outside beauty of the animal, this time, I looked at the face to determine how sweet and sensitive I felt the creature would be. After all, beauty is only skin deep. My prior experience with Athena taught me that although she was a gorgeous Tortoise shell, she had a really mean disposition. This time, I looked at the temperament first and that he should just be healthy.

Out of so many, one became a clear choice. His name was Spike and he is a brown tabby with a white blaze down his face. He just looked so cute and sweet. Somehow I knew he was the one. Next, I contacted his foster and began the process to meet him. The rest went well. His foster family had him with two other males for the last three years. This was both good and bad news. He had never lived with a female but he had shared a 10×8 cat house with two other male cats. Ok, so he knew how to share. I was willing to take a chance on him. He’s a sweetie, but all didn’t go well right away!

More on how he adjusted in the next article.


Admitting Defeat – Well, Almost

October 19, 2011

In my last blog article I wrote about how I asked God to send me a pet and one showed up. I fully believe that the right thing is the one that works out. Sometimes the whole picture isn’t known at the time or there’s more to the story. Here’s what happened.

The Divine Plan was at work

Yes, I let my pet sitter know that I was ready to welcome a fur pal for my 17 year old Judas who lost her brother to chronic renal failure in April (six months ago). And, yes, this cat rescuer had a beautiful tortoise shell female that I fell in love with. Well, I loved the exterior package and, as we know we can’t always judge a book – or a cat- by its cover. As it turned out, this cat was very pretty, but it had a mean disposition.  Although I kept it in a separate room for a week as I was instructed to do and I went into this room daily to play with it, I didn’t feel like we were bonding. Sure, the cat would come to me when I opened the door to get petted and for some treats, but that’s just because it was alone and wanted company. But after a few minutes, it had had enough and would whip its head around and slap me with the paw.

We don’t always know the whole picture

I kept telling myself that this was normal for a cat that had been on the street for awhile and had to get used to kind treatment. Then when she bite me I drew the line. Meanwhile, Judas knew the cat was in the house and didn’t like it at all. Judas was screaming day and night. The combination of her reaction and my experience made me come to the conclusion that this wasn’t the right animal to adopt. I had to back out of the agreement. Luckily, the cat rescuer told me that sometimes it just doesn’t work out. Whew!

But the right thing was happening

I really felt bad about the whole thing. I had started to get invested in this beautiful cat. I gave her a new name – Athena; bought a gorgeous crystal collar and name tag, as well as some new toys. Everything was salvageable except the name tag, a small price to pay for what would have been a very bad situation if left to continue.

I checked in with guidance and realized that the whole experience with this cat happened for several reasons. (1) I learned that I had to give affection on this animal’s terms and not mine. Ok. (2) The cat rescuer was going through some tough times and we had the opportunity to talk. As a result of this interaction, she decided to come see me as a client. This was good for her as well as for me. So, in the end, the right thing had worked out for all concerned.

 

 


God, Please send me a pet!

September 28, 2011

 It’s been five months since my fur baby Hercules crossed over to Rainbow Bridge. Both his sister Judas and I miss him terribly. Sometimes she stands at the front door, which has a glass center pane, looking out and just cries wondering when he will return home. I come down the stairs and try to explain to her that I miss him too but that he isn’t coming home.  “Let’s welcome another fur baby who doesn’t have a home into our lives. It will help us heal while, at the same time, help a lost creature find a new home.”

I had helped my friend find a new pet two years ago by searching on the internet on animal rescue sites using the criteria he gave me. After several weeks, I found a two-year old male Virginia hound that was stated to be friendly to cats (after all there was his beloved Sherman to consider). So he went to the pet fair and met his soon to be Shelby, short for General George Shelby.

How can a pet find me?

This time, I wanted a pet to find me. When my Hercules and Judas were babies, they turned up at my house, then in a more spacious neighborhood allowing for the possibility of wild cats leaving their young. So, my guys found me and how lucky they were to find such a welcoming Mom! I wondered if such a thing could happen around a townhouse in a more compacted area; most probably not.

Help is close by

I told my pet sitter that I was ready (or thought so) for a new fur baby. She loved Hercules after caring for him for 12 of his 17 years and also understood my at trepidation about bringing a new pet into the house with his sister being an older animal like Judas.

Then she said, “One of my petsitters rescues cats and she has a new one available. I replied, “That’s great, but I’ve decided that I want a tortoise shell after seeing some young ones around the lake on my walk”. There’s a woman with 12 cats and some are tortoise shell or tortis, but she won’t part with any of them.

A new fur baby finds me

To my surprise, my pet sitter says, Her new rescue is a tortoise!” Wow! The writing was on the wall. I knew immediately that this cat was coming to me. The timing and the situation seemed to be falling perfecting into my lap so to speak. I felt that the universe was guiding me to this particular animal. I asked for the contact details and called the woman, Cathy and things just fell into place from there. I was able to visit the cat and found out what I needed to know. The torti was a female, about five years old, had just gotten her shots and appeared quite healthy. She was playful and seemed friendly to me. I immediately agreed to adopt her. Due to her golden markings between her eyes, I named her Athena, after the Goddess of Wisdom. (The sixth energy center is just between the eyes and signifies the energy of wisdom and psychic understanding).

My new fur baby

Athena would soon be mine after a very careful adoption process. More in my next posting.


Sleeping Into Oblivion

July 28, 2011

Ever feel like sleeping all day? Sometimes it’s just a matter of being tired and needing more sleep. Other times we may really be sick and our bodies may actually need rest to rejuvenate. These are all possibilities. Another one is that you’re depressed.

When you don’t feel quite like yourself, (who else could you feel like?), you might well want to avoid contact with other people and prefer to stay by yourself. I see this behavior in my cat Judas when she’s upset about something. A cat, you say, well, yes. Cats are very sensitive creatures and my Judas is particularly so. When her brother Hercules crossed over in April, Judas’ behavior changed dramatically. Whereas before, she wandered around the house, sat on different chairs in different rooms or in the sun by the front door, she would hide in the closet or just sleep in her little bed. Mostly she started to just sleep. This has been the beginning of what I’d call her grieving stage for her brother Hercules. She’s depressed over his loss. I can really tell. For her, sleeping is a way of getting away from the world as she knows it and simply checking out. Sometimes she stands in the middle of the living room floor and just screams at the top of her lungs. I find this her way of asking, “So where is my buddy Hercules?” How many of us would like to do the same thing when stuff happens in our lives or when someone dear to us departs? It all seems so unfair. One reaction is to try to unhook from our daily activities.      

Honestly, there are lots of events besides the loss of a loved one that can cause situational depression. This is a term that captures the symptoms of depression a person exhibits due to circumstances occurring within their world or environment; a caveat to this is that the behavior is not normal for them otherwise. Thus, the situation causes them to feel depressed rather than actually being depressed.  I’m not a psychologist so I don’t diagnose, nor treat depression, but I can certainly tell when my friends that are normally pretty happy get upset about something in their lives; they may even need to take medication for awhile, but this doesn’t label them as depressed people.

Then there are people who have given up on life and are in assisted living. These people really are depressed AND they sleep all day. When I visit my hospice clients as a volunteer, they all take lots of naps. In addition, when they’re not sleeping, they have a tendency to be physically present, but appear to be mentally checked out. Thus even when they are awake, it’s not the kind of awake that you or I are used to. Sometimes I chat with them, but little gets through to their comprehension. And, in return, they will tell me something like it’s important but the words formed from their mouths are garbled versions of what their brain has conceptualized. It’s all quite sad.

So, when I look at all this sleeping going on, is it just a momentary depression or a real depression? For Judas, she got up a little while ago and came to visit me! So there’s hope for her. She seems to be coming out of her depression. I tell her that I miss Hercules too and we can help each other. Having friends provides companionship and a sense of community. Pets need people and people need other people. That’s why I visit depressed people in the hospice. It’s so that they aren’t alone for that period of time. Perhaps it will help them to not be so depressed.


Whatever concerns us shows up!

June 13, 2011

Do you like scary movies? What constitutes scary? Remember Indiana Jones, Temple of Doom when the female lead sees snakes all over the ground? It was her greatest fear materializing. Or perhaps for you, it’s a fear of the dark. Or maybe it’s a fear of high places. If so, ever have a dream about falling? It’s natural to have “fears”, since fears are an extension of concerns. The real question is what we do about them. Do we hold them “in” to fester or do we get control over them. Otherwise, fears can take over and cause havoc in our lives.

An example:

Here’s a recent example of how one of my fears played out. My darling male cat, Hercules went through two traumatic months prior to succumbing to the complications of renal failure on April 5. The decision to end his life after 17 wonderful years was devastating for me. Life without Hercules was sterile since the little guy was my alarm clock for many daily activities. He told me when to get up (with a swat in the face), and he cried on my bed when he thought it was time to go to sleep. He even told me when it was time for a break, which normally involved giving him some affection as well as play time. I soon realized I was afraid of life without my little angel.

But why should I feel this way when there was so much more to live for! The rational mind tells us all the logical reasons why our fear is, well irrational! However, we don’t listen, not at first anyway. I fixated on my memories of my fur baby using my time to make photo albums, memory cards to send out to friends and a 3-photo framing for the wall. Once this time went by, I realized that I was concerned about his resting place. I buried his ashes next to a rock near his favorite play area just inside the park area adjacent to my townhome.

A few weeks later, a registered package came by way of FedEX. Around midnight I opened the package to learn that the local Park Association planned to restore the stream and one of the tributaries ran right by Herc’s burial spot. I immediately became alarmed. “Oh, no, what if they disturb Herc’s resting place!” I thought. This fear began to grow until I was very agitated.

What’s the lesson here?

I stood back and asked myself, “Is this issue a lesson that I shouldn’t hold on to a place that just has ashes when I know that Herc’s soul is everywhere?” or, “Is the lesson that I shouldn’t worry and just turn the whole issue over for a divine solution?  I came to understand that the latter was the case. Then, I got hold of myself saying, “No, I will send the project manager an email and surely the work can be done in such a way as to avoid trampling on his remains.” I wrote up my concerns, found a couple of pictures of Hercules, one of me performing his celebration of life ceremony, and sent it to the association project manager.

The result:

The very next day she called me to say she was coming out to see for herself which “rock” was involved. We met, she looked at “Herc’s rock”, and then indicated that she understood the sensitivity of the situation. In a very sincere gesture, she assured me that a notation would be made on the blueprints, so that when the stream restoration work is done, Herc’s rock would not be disturbed! Yeah! It all worked out just fine, for the highest good of all concerned. Perhaps the Association will eventually call that rock, Hercules’ Rock. Somehow the thought made me smile.


Five Days Without My Baby

April 17, 2011

It’s been five days since my little boy Hercules crossed over Rainbow Bridge. Since then, there’s no one to wake me in the morning, so I sleep too much. I awaken tearful and my heart in pain without his dear touches on my face, “Mommy it’s time to get up”. There’s no one to interrupt me during the day to say, “Stop and let me love you”, so I just keep working and working. There’s no one to say, “Feed me, I’m hungry”, so I don’t realize that I’ve gone all day without eating as food doesn’t seem important. There’s no one to tell me to sit and watch TV so we can be together on the sofa, so I feel isolated in my aloneness. Hercules isn’t here to say, “Mommy, come to bed now. I want you to sleep with me”, so I stay up too late. And the cycle goes on. My life has a huge hole in it. I have to learn to manage my own life rather than have it managed by my love for this little angel that left me.

Hercules, when did it happen that you grew up from being such a little baby to getting so old and dying? Is this what it’s like to see children age? I’ve never had children so I’ve never had the experience of seeing children grow up. Hopefully, most parents don’t have to endure the passing of their own children. With pets, they just don’t live that long. But 17 years is close to 1/3 of my life. Hercules lived with me through the end of my marriage, through my divorce and through the years since. He’s weathered my trials and tribulations and he’s been a trooper through it all.

There were times when I wasn’t as patient as I should have been with his constant demand for attention. Sometimes, when I was working in my study, I would tell him, “Not now, Mommy has to work.” Isn’t this what parents do, thinking that there will be more time when they can be together?” There comes a point, when time runs out.

Last year when he lost a tooth I realized that the time just might be running out and I began to thank God every day for each additional day we had together. Every day I held my angel in my arms and told him how much I loved him. He knew every day how much he was loved until the dementia clouded his mind. Then I think he still knew somewhere inside. Even on the last day when he walked around in circles, he still wanted to be with me, have me hold him and so it was a good day. The final moments were good. He ate well and yet we both knew it was time for him to pass on.

As I sit here typing this note, I’m crying for my baby. But now he talks to me in my head. He tells me, “Mommy, don’t cry. I’m ok. Mommy, go out and play. I don’t want you to be sad. I have lots of friends here to play with. It’s a nice place. Please be happy. Enjoy your life. I will watch over you now as you did for me all those years. I love you Mommy. “

I love you too Hercules. I hope that God is looking out for you and keeping you in the light. You are a dear angel and I know that if it’s possible, you are looking out for me.


Final Farewell – Saying Good-bye to a Pet is so Very Hard

April 11, 2011

My darling angel Hercules was laid to rest Thursday April 7 at 2pm in a lovely garden ceremony near my home in Reston, VA. We chose his favorite play area, which we called his bunker, to bury his ashes. As I’m a minister, I conducted a full pet memorial program complete with music, saging the site, appropriate prayers, verses and those present offering remembrances of Hercules. He was held in high esteem by all who knew him as a very lovable guy. Even my coaching clients would often enjoy having him on their laps during sessions and stated that he improved their experience. His energy was wonderful. I know God was with us during the ceremony, as it was a most beautiful and warm day, with the days proceeding and after rainy and cold. How could it have been otherwise when one of God’s own angels is returned to him?

Hercules laid to rest

Hercules was brought to me by God in July, 1994 after I had prayed for cats to show up on my property to keep me company. My prior pet had died about five years prior and I was lonely for a companion. I only had to wait 4 months when these little babies showed up. Hercules got his name by being the first to come to me and allow my touch – so he was the brave one. His sister, Judas was the sneaky one. (She is still with me and I have to remember to give her extra love as she wonders where he’s gone.) So God brought Hercules to me as my little angel for 17 years, and as he was only a gift, he was returned to God on Tuesday April 5 at 4:25pm.

Hercules loved me unconditionally and I loved him in return; in fact, I had to love him enough to let him go. It was the most difficult decision I’ve ever had to make. But let me say this. Now that I’m back in my logical mind, I realize that he was fighting to stay alive because he knew I was grieving. The signs of his severe deterioration were there, but I kept telling myself – just one more intervention and he’ll be ok. Eventually, I knew it was enough and together we made the decision over this past weekend. Somehow he knew, because Monday night he was more like his old self. He ate better, seemed more alert, and slept with me under the covers like he used to do prior to getting so sick. We had a very good last day.

Bless you Hercules. I couldn’t have loved you more and you couldn’t have loved me more. I learned never to let a day go by without telling you how much I loved you. I’m so glad that I did. You truly were a blessing, one that will remain in my heart all the days of my life.

Good-bye my angel. May God keep you safe in his divine light.


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