Just a day or so after Christmas I saw, on Facebook, that a wonderful woman had died, someone I worked with many years ago. I was fortunate to be the editor of her first book in my previous life in book publishing, and she was a joy to work with. A spiritual director, and a spiritual soul of great depth, she was a gift to all who knew her, as is evidenced by the pouring out of love on her Facebook page after her death. One of her last posts, just before Thanksgiving included a simple sentence that will stay with me forever: “Much to grieve, nothing to fear.” I hope that I am as confident as she was when my time comes near.
Just a few days after this first death came another one, the husband of a dear friend from my publishing days. It was not unexpected, but it was very sad.
This Christmas season was a bittersweet one. Not only because of my friend’s passing, but because the beloved dog of one of my clients died as well. Her sweet dog was diagnosed with dementia right before Christmas, and I was to pet sit S. for a few days, but my client ended up staying home instead. Which is a very good thing, because S. declined very quickly and was gone within a week or so. She would have passed while my client was gone, and for both of their sakes, I am glad they were together those last days. S. needed her person with her as she journeyed toward that Rainbow Bridge, and her person needed to be with S. as well.
For awhile I thought maybe Butterscotch, our senior dog, with her Cushings Syndrome, was speeding more rapidly along the path toward that famed bridge as well, but it looks like a change in her Cushings meds has slowed the progress, reduced her lethargy and left her feeling better.
Butterscotch is no spring chicken at 14, and her Cushings and arthritis have definitely slowed her down this last year. She can’t get up on beds or sofas anymore unless we help her, and stairs are pretty much hit or miss now. I see a sling to help her with the stairs in the near future. It would absolutely break her heart not to sleep with us upstairs.
There have been a lot of losses this year. Clients lost 23 animals this year, ones that we have cared for and will miss. Some of the cats who came through our TNR program didn’t make it. One older guy, so sick, went to hospice for just a week before he passed, stricken with FIV and many other problems.
We had to put a kitten with a wretched case of herpes in his eyes down, or he would have had a short and miserable life ahead of him. There were a couple others as well, and the blessing in their ends is that they weren’t outside, starving, and fighting for resources. They were warm and fed and were helped from this life peacefully.
The flip side, thankfully, is that we helped a lot of animals this year too. The cat who came in with a badly lacerated eye is now living in a cat sanctuary, where he will be safe for the rest of his days – may they be long. Annie, the feral who was days from death, lives with us after many months of nursing brought her not only back to life, but to full and abundant life. And my pet sitting staff and I have cared for many client pets, some of them near the end of their days, and were able to provide comfort and companionship during those last weeks or months. I was even with one very special cat for her last visit to the vet when her person was away, and time was up. I don’t look forward to having to be the one to be with these wonderful souls for their last vet visit, but I am also honored to hold and care for them as they cross that Bridge.
Reflecting back on all the losses, and also the saves, I felt no need to make any kind of resolutions. Approaching 60 this year, I’m pretty wise to my own ways and know they won’t last anyway. We did good this year with pet sitting, with the TNR program…we helped so many in such a variety of ways, and that is good enough. Maybe the best way to go into the new year, already underway, is with my friend’s wonderful line as she was finishing her days on earth: much to grieve, nothing to fear. We will miss those we lost last year, and do our very best to face the new year – which is guaranteed to bring some losses with it – without fear.