She was declining.
I did everything I could. I gave pills, fluid, insulin, supplements, love, and Reiki. I felt like I was missing something, so I spoke to a psychic in order to approach it from another angle. I spoke to the doctor about my expectations and her experience. I wanted to make sure I was making the right decisions.
There was nothing more that I could do.
At 19 years of age and weighing in around 8 lbs, my sweet Dusty gave the go ahead to help her leave her body and move to the next stage of her existence. She knew that I’d done so much and could no longer maintain her quality of life. Her spirit was strong, but her body was growing weaker. It was time.
But who gave me the right to decide that “it’s time?” I found myself in the strange and painful position of deciding whether or not to end someone’s life. This is not how Life is designed, it seemed to me. People talk about how “hard” it is to euthanize an animal friend and how it’s a good thing to end suffering.
That all seems logical and rational, and helps us deal with our loss, but what of this business about intervening in the natural course of life? Why couldn’t I take a palliative approach and just keep her comfortable until her body naturally stopped living?
Practically, that would have been very hard to do. I didn’t have the resources to care for her around the clock and I was running out of options. More intervention would have meant more stress. For both of us.
I waited for some sign of resignation in her, of clearly being ready to go, but she continued to literally pull herself up and keep going. I was growing weary, but I did the same. For her sake. And for mine.
The turning point for me was the conversation with the psychic. Jennafer Martin is a Reiki practitioner, gifted intuitive, editor, and minister whom I care for and respect. She gave lots of insight about Dusty’s desires, but it was one in particular that really struck me. Dignity. She said that my little kitty would lose dignity if she were allowed to decline further. That made so much sense to me. I felt comforted. I felt relieved. And I felt deeply saddened. It was “time.”
Once the decision was made, I knew what had to be done. Dusty’s healing presence at so many Reiki classes and events had touched all that met her, and I wanted her to have the best possible experience as she left this earth.
During her final week, she ate her favorites – ice cream and fish. She slept in the bed with me again, and had time under the covers on her own.
On her last day, friends and family came to pay their respects. They shared their love and offered blessings.
They sat with her outside on the warm concrete while she enjoyed the sunshine and her plant friends.
I took care of myself, too, during this time. I loved on her, snuggled with her, and captured the last moments of our relationship in videos and pictures.
Nan, the vet, and LuAnn, the caring vet tech, generously came to the house so that Dusty could be spared the stress of one more trip in the car. They were so patient as I took my time getting myself, and my friend, ready for her final moments.
Following the procedure, I silently wondered why nothing seemed different. I expected to “feel” something. As though she’d heard my thoughts, Nan shared a Buddhist tradition. She told me that by knocking or tapping on the head 3 times, the spirit is released. I tapped gently and felt goosebumps. And I wasn’t the only one. I breathed and cried. I cried and breathed. And then I said good-bye.
She was gently wrapped and carried away while I was left with my accepting and sad heart.
For weeks afterward, I was asked, “How did it go?” It was the best possible scenario. We were both supported, held, and blessed with Reiki by our community. We were able to choose how we wanted to move through this experience and we took those steps to make it so.
I learned something in all of this: Change Is.
“They” say that change is the only thing we can count on. Change involves slowly leaving one way while simultaneously moving into the new way. Some change is abrupt, but the inner transition still exists. We have to adapt. And adapt we do, because that’s how we’re built.
Consciously moving through transitions makes change easier to bear. What makes it a conscious process?
1. Acknowledge and accept the feelings
2. Accept that change is happening
3. Decide what will make it easier and act on it
I acknowledged that I didn’t want to feel like I was killing my friend. I accepted that I was sad to see her go. I accepted that keeping her alive would have meant more stress for her, which contradicted my decision to keep her as comfortable as possible. I accepted that she was tired of fighting her body and was ready. I decided that saying good-bye wasn’t just for me. She had a relationship with others and I wanted to honor those relationships. I asked for support and received it.
It took some time to stop talking to her and expecting her to be there. The felt sense of her presence is fading into memory as I now I live my life in a new way, without her in near by. And I have a greater understanding of how to honor the transitions in my life.
Thank you Dusty.
Thank you friends and family. ❤