When I learned late last week my 10-year old cat Thomas likely had feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), I felt exactly like the literature the vet gave me described how pet owners typically feel. As if I’d been hit over the head with a 2-by-4. The virus virtually comes from nowhere, with the help of the kitty masking the symptoms for months, sometimes years, until Bam! everyone is hit with the proverbial board. The prognosis was dreadful from the start and I was optimistic from the start. I’ve had lots of pets…they get sick, they catch things, we treat them and they live…at least for awhile…at least in the past I had time to prepare for the loss. But not in the 2-by-4 board-wielding world of FIB.  (I have my own acronym for the virus but it’s not something I’ll share.)

In an attempt to feel “normal” after being whacked by the proverbial FIB 2-by-4, I allowed myself to go with my friend inner-tubing on a lazy river south of Austin. She did a good job of talking me into it and I’m glad she did – that’s what friends are for. The day was beautiful, the water was warm and the natural landscape was peaceful – a bit like floating in a hug with tree’s offering their canopy of branches to embrace us. Almost immediately we noticed the abundance of dragonfly’s all around and she suggested that this was exactly what I needed: “Dragonfly Therapy”.

We weren’t quite sure what it meant to have dragonfly’s stop and plop on our knees and arms and legs but we both sensed it was something special. Later I learned that dragonfly’s represent change and movement in ones life. The dragonfly symbolizes self-realization and it’s founded in a mental and emotional maturity about understanding the deeper meaning of life.  It seemed apropos as I knew that while Thomas was not going to be with me much longer I also knew that I would continue to live, grow and change and he had things to do as well…he was preparing to transition from this life. We would all continue to move, just in different ways.

As I arrived home that afternoon I was amazed at how exhausted I felt from floating in a tube down a slow-moving river and thrilled to see L’il Thomas Voeckler poking his head out of a box at me; one that I had left for them to play in (after all, boxes and paper bags make the best cat toys!).

The afternoon of Dragonfly Therapy had done me a world of good and Thomas, being Thomas, seemed happy that I was happy. He ate dinner and peered out from the balcony for a short time and then retreated to his bed.

My sweet boy was not the same the next day and as the vet had predicted the fast-moving virus had caught up to Thomas and had taken over his little body. Keeping him comfortable and pain-free were the only options as there is nothing to combat this beast of a virus. He died this morning in my arms but not before gifting me a precious hour of cuddling on our favorite blanket; it’s hard for me to believe, but as we lay there, he purred. The other cats were with him, our little family unit together to bid him goodbye all the while silent tears streamed down my face. That precious gift of cuddling with him one final time is one of the most special and generous gifts I’ve ever received because as I’ve learned, when cats are dying they tend to go off to be alone, they don’t come out to cuddle.

He died on an auspicious day, a special blessed day on the Buddhist calendar, where prayers are magnified and good intentions carry more weight. Auspicious days aren’t plentiful and are very special days. There won’t be another such day until the end of June; Thomas chose well. As he lay dying, the sky was overcast and the clouds soon opened and rained down its tears…perhaps nature’s way of honoring its grief, loss and love for one of it’s own.
                                            “There is a sacredness in tears. 
                            They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. 
                      They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. 
          They are the messengers of overwhelming grief and unspeakable love.”

                                                        - Washington Irving –


Thank you Betsy, Doris, Fern, Kate, Lori, Peter, Tamara, Terry, Seth and Stephanie for your words of support and wisdom this past week. You have helped me stay strong for Thomas and for Bridgette, Echo and Pine Cone who he left behind.

Thanks for reading,
~ Haven


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