life and death

There’s a place my mind keeps going back to. At the edge of the trail there is a fallen tree and it appears that the tree and the ground are becoming one again. It might be cedar, but I don’t really know, it is the red wood that is flowing out of the trunk into the ground that has my attention. This decomposition process is happening is such a public way, in a part of the trail that is partially clear and always light. My eye always goes to the red flowing wood as I move into the brightness of this place. And I always feel both life and death when I gaze on it, flowing lifeblood feeding the earth simultaneously with the dead wood decomposing in slow motion. It is so beautiful…

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One of my cats is dying. The brother to his sister of a gorgeous pair of Himalayan/Siamese mix I adopted four years ago, Kush can be a tough customer. He has a bit of sour disposition that masks his big attentive heart.  My housemate Cristiane captured his look perfectly in this last really wonderful photo she took of him three months ago…

Critiane's picutre of Kush

I don’t think he was thrilled when Nora joined the family, but he is the one who always wants to be around wherever we are in the house, even if just out of reach to taunt Nora. He has quirky habits like eating leaves from all my flower bouquets, or making sure to sleep on top of whatever quilt in process I leave lying around. In his crankiness he is always present and so it is hard now that he retreats to bathtub each day with breathing so raspy and labored that it sounds like he is always taking a last breath. The tumor in his chest is getting bigger and making its presence known now in many ways, a failing droopy eye, a large open sore where the pressure of the tumor is pushing out. After much consultation with the vet, it is clear he is not going to get better. We discussed all the options and I know I am going to have to choose euthanasia at some point, which will be a first for me. I have never had to have a beloved animal put to sleep. I have never had to make that decision. With three cats and a dog now buried here on this property, I think back to the ritual of honoring death the way we have with each of them.   I want to give Kush the same respect, but I fear he won’t let go on his own and I worry about his suffering. As long as he is still eating and licking himself clean. I feel I have to support him in his process. Is he suffering? I just don’t know….

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I’ve come to another place on the trail that has also captures my attention. It is a tree that has actually been cut in half with a chain saw. It appears to be the same type of red wood as its brother down the path. Was this tree already dead or dying before the saw severed it from life for good? I don’t know that either. I want to see the beauty here too. I’m trying really hard to appreciate the rings of life that still glow despite the strange scar made from the chainsaw. Who knows, maybe the decomposing beauty up the path met with the same fate and look where it is now….

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I do know this is an exhaustive subject and I could drive myself crazy with the debate. Whichever way this goes, I am committed to experiencing the beauty of Kush every step of the way while he walks the continuum between life and death.

5 thoughts on “life and death

  1. So sorry to hear about Kush 😦 I know you will know when the time is right. He was my shadow for a lot of years.
    His sister Bailey had a scare last month, that ended with a good lab report of a simple polyp. She seems to be back to normal now, but I wondered if she’d been around for very long. It makes your very aware of how short their
    lives are, compared to ours. Thank you for taking such good care of Kush and Desi.

    • Thanks Joann, I know Kush is special for you and now for me in a way I know I will miss too. It is still amazing to me how different he is from his sister. Desi is looking for more attention these days and I’ve no doubt she knows what is going on. I think they hang out together at night when no one is around and looking Anyway, glad to hear Bailey is fine. Best to you.

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