This is an emotional story for me to write.
I have been thinking about how to write this, because it is of a personal nature. And I finally decided to just write it the way it is.
My wife, Susan, and I (Michael) run the site here at ALifeOfLight.com We are baby boomers, our children are grown and we have 4 wonderful grandchildren. They live close by but not with us, but who we do have living in our home with us are our pets. Dog and cats. We have been a family like this for quite a while, over 7 years actually. We are very close. The cats sleep on the bed at night with us sometimes, the dog sleeps on the floor. One Mom, one Dad, one little girl cat (Lexi), a little boy cat (Tio) and our dog, Clancy. And you know how it is, even though they have names, your animal family friends get nicknames.
So for Clancy, it was Mister Dog, for Lexi - Tiny Cat, and for Tio it was Prince Cat, because he was so regal in nature.
Tio Was My Friend
Tio is my very good and close friend. When I go out to run I have to make sure that Tio is in the house, otherwise he follows me, calling to me to slow down so that he can keep up. Tio is a great alarm clock, and I know exactly when I have overslept because he is right up by my head, kneading the pillow with his front paws to wake me up because it’s like, “C’mon Dad, the sun is up, it’s time to go outside to play”
I like to write and I spend a lot of time at my desk when I'm not working with clients. Tio would sit there with me, and sleep and play around with my papers and other things scattered about on my desk. Lots of people have to get one of those timers and set it to go off after a certain amount of time working, so they can have a break.
Not me, when I had been working long enough, (in Tio’s opinion), he would wake himself up, do his little cat waking up stretch and maneuver himself to sit directly in front of my computer screen. That is his way of saying, “Dad, it’s time for a break” And for him the only kind of break that counts is for me to pick him up, cradle him in my arms like a little baby, he curls his little cat arms over my arm and we walk around the house.
We had to tour the living room, the fireplace room and go to look out patio door to see the hummingbirds and dragonflies in the backyard garden. Tio had a special spot where he lay under the hibiscus bushes keeping guard over his home. When he lay there in the garden, it was almost like he was a part of it, and we called him Tio Blossom. And part of our walking break was to make sure for him that the dragonflies had not taken over his backyard. And then, of course, like all good walks at the end, it was time for treats. Tio really liked little pieces of sliced ham. Spoiled or what?
I’m a coffee drinker, and it became the game, that I would work for a while and then all of a sudden ”discover” that my coffee cup was empty. "Honey", I would say, "Tio drank all my coffee." And of course, I would have to brew another pot. It was a good game, and Tio didn't mind being accused of drinking all the coffee.
We lived like this happy and peaceful for a number of years. We had a good routine, and it suited all of us.
Our little family was doing fine, it was a wonderful life; light, peaceful and serene. And then a few short weeks ago for some reason, Tio started losing weight. A lot of weight.
He would eat and eat and eat, but never gain any weight back, his ribs started to show, the vertebrae on his spine appeared, it turns out he had cancer eating him up from the inside out.
He couldn’t jump up to my desk to help me work anymore, so I would pick him up and put him on the desk on my notepad, and when it was time for a break, I would pick him up from my desk and carry him, cradled in my arms on our tour, to the living room, to the fireplace room to look out the patio door for errant dragonflies and then to the kitchen for a treat.
But then a little more time went by and he didn’t want any treats anymore, and then he didn’t want any dinner.
He wasn’t in any pain; he didn’t cry when I picked him up and when I did pick him up, he just purred, that soft little sound of gentleness and love. Blinked his eyes at me to tell me that he loved me and kept on being a cat.
After a few more days had passed, he couldn’t get down easily from the desk anymore, and I was afraid he would hurt himself if he tried to jump down, so I fixed places for him to lie; soft bath towels, in the office, in the living room, in the bedroom.
I would get down on the floor next to him and rub his head and tickle under his chin, and he would purr and purr and blink his eyes telling me he loved me.
We all know when someone is dying, it's just a part of that universal knowledge we all share. I think it is an honorable thing to be able to die at home. I think that way for people and I think that way for our animal family members as well. Surrounded by your loved ones, cuddled in their love, it’s a peaceful transition. Better in my opinion than the chilly cold of a hospital bed or the vet’s office.
But it’s a difficult thing. In our world we push death away. We see it on TV a dozen times a day, but up close and personal, we don’t have much experience with it. It’s honorable and difficult at the very same time. Gut wrenching emotions, and bouts of tears at the same time.
All the things I write about at A Life Of Light are things I believe with a passion. I live my life in the belief that we are all immortal Powerful Creator Spirits traveling on an endless journey through eternity. I believe we choose who we are going to incarnate with, human and animal. But the truth is, it’s hard to watch your loved ones dying a day at a time, because we are here on this physical plane, and our emotions are part of what make us human.
This past Saturday, Tio didn’t walk at all. We had a walking tour through the house, but only one. The rest of the day he just lay on the coolness of the stone floor safe in the midst of his family who loved him. He didn’t eat anything and I could get him to drink a little bit of water, but not really very much. But when I scruffled his head and under his chin, and I would get a little purr and a bit of eye blinking, and of course, I told him I loved him.
I'm Going Now
Sunday morning, I got up a bit early, I checked my computer to see if there were any emails I needed to respond to and I heard Tio meow loudly, something I had not heard for weeks. Then Susan called me from the bedroom, "Daddy, come here, quick, Tio is calling.” So in I ran, and I picked up my little prince cat and held him cradled in my arms. Susan scruffled his little head, and we both told him how much we loved him.
He blinked his kitty eyes for the last time, gave out one more little meow, as if to say "Bye Mom, bye Dad, I'm going now, I love you", purred just a little and passed into spirit while I held him safe in my arms.
So I laid him gently on the sofa, and went out to the backyard to the garden and dug a little grave for him under the hibiscus bushes where he used to spend hours sitting watching the hummingbirds and the dragonflies, pretending he was fierce and sniffing the breeze when it brought in scents of sage from the open desert.
I carried him one last time cradled in my arms out to his favorite spot in the garden, kissed his head, and laid his little body in the ground. I put his favorite ball into his grave and Susan cut a flower and placed it on his body. We held hands and thanked the Universe for the time we had to spend together. Then we covered him up and placed a special stone to mark the spot where our little friend’s body lies.
Then Susan and I spent the day telling stories about Tio and honoring his memory for the beautiful times we spent together. They were wonderful years and my only regret is that I wish I had more of them.
I made this image for my Facebook profile picture because it reminds me of how Tio looked when we were walking out to the garden that one last time. Snuggled in my arms, face turned up toward the gentle warmth of the sun, a peaceful secret cat smile on his lips.
I asked for a little beam of light the other day to be sent our way and I want to thank you for all the messages we got and the kind words of support.