Kalman Cat left us in mid-April, just a few days before his 18th birthday. When we left the house early that morning, he was fine. When my wife returned home around 10am, he was breathing rapidly, very uncomfortable and – most unusual for him – completely withdrawn. His heart was giving out, and the animal instinct to die alone overpowered his attachment to my wife and I. We stayed with him all evening and into the night, until his last breath around 2:15 a.m.
Two years ago, Sandor Cat’s six-week decline meant that his passing came as a relief. This time, the suddenness of it was more of a shock, though in hindsight there were a couple of signs that the end was drawing near. Fortunately, Kalman’s suffering was comparatively brief.
We were fortunate to be present so that we could help both our boys through their passing in the auspicious Vedic way, and have reason to believe that they both have obtained human forms for spiritual advancement.
In his later years, Kalman Cat gave up his detached and aloof manner, becoming completely attached to my wife, to the point where he just had to be in physical contact several times a day. Anyone who’s ever spent 30 seconds with a cat knows that they are shameless; Kalman was beyond shameless in begging for attention. He also made sure to demand some Dad time each day. He liked to play a little rough; when we could get him to bite a little, he enjoyed it the most.
You had to hear him playing with his toys to believe it: he would carry a sparkle ball or catnip pillow around, or drop it on the bed, and yowl at it – declaring it to be utterly owned – in this unearthly voice. He would play cat-and-mouse with his sparkle ball, pouncing, releasing and recapturing over and over. Several times a day, he would bring a vanquished toy to one of us as an offering, to show off his fearsome prowess. We have some hilarious videos; maybe we’ll share them someday.
So now it’s just the two of us. The absence of pets is a major adjustment, which will always have both convenient and melancholy aspects, but the loss of a beloved and loving companion naturally overrides the rest.
The next day, stopped at a red light en route to the crematorium, a funeral procession crossed our path, every car bearing a little red “Funeral” flag. It struck me immediately: every car should have one of those!
We’re all driving toward the same endpoint. These material bodies are all temporary, like clothes, and eventually have to be discarded. We move on, leave them behind, and take up new ones, according to the Law of Karma.
So it begs certain questions. Where are we going, and to what purpose? What will we do with the time, and this rare human form, which we’ve been given?
Denial will not help us; we have to face reality. There’s no other way to solve the problem.
It would be more accurate to say that we’re all racing toward the same endpoint. The pace of life for most people in this age is frenetic. Everyone is scrambling to pack as much enjoyment into as little time as possible. More sensations; more thrills; more intensity; more, more, MORE – all to avoid facing the emptiness within.
It’s all skimming on the surface, like those water bugs. We can’t really live on the surface, though we fool ourselves into thinking that we can. We must go inward; we must go deep. That’s where the work is to be done, and the truth to be found.