I know an animal sanctuary where love still wins, where love is always present. It lies in the heart of a family farm nestled deep in a Florida forest.
Here, the life-death continuum is celebrated moment by moment.
And in this moment, I mark the death of feline EmmaRose (ER), a tiny, gray-blue dilute whose top weight was 5.5 pounds. The last I knew, her weight dropped to just over 4 pounds.
At some point in her life she had been declawed but she was a lioness, nonetheless. Even in her waning days, she did not hesitate to attack a cat that was at least double her size.
EmmaRose decided the dimensions of her life. I don’t think she ever found a dog too large to love but she would not abide a cat. ER grew up with a beagle named Cooper; she would remain a dog lover all her life.
EmmaRose did not begin or end her life with me–we had but six short years—we lived together until eight months ago. We were both chronically ill but my limited physical mobility meant I could no longer meet her care needs.
Maybe a day went by when I did not think of ER but that seems unlikely. We shared a two-room apartment, which was just right for us. After she left, it felt too large. Still does.
This is not a moment of regret. Sometimes, doing the right thing really is the right thing. Maybe it depends on how much it hurts. For me, there are no qualifications for knowing what is right except how my gut feels.
But this I do know: little ER spent the last eight months of her life receiving the love and care that every sentient being should know as death nears. It was what I could no longer give her.
From the moment she arrived at the animal sanctuary, I not only knew how she was doing but two very thoughtful little girls sent me drawings to show how the rest of her life would be. And that’s how it was.
I received videos and pictures of her interacting with the girls and their toddler brother. It wasn’t all Disney, of course, but ER did enjoy some movie evenings snuggled up with a comforter.
And when it came time for ER to die, the children were with her. EmmaRose went to sleep in the arms of a little girl who loved her. These children, perhaps better than most, understand how precious life is and that it does not last but love does.
We are all star dust. The same energy flows through everything and everyone. No exceptions. We come into the world on it and that’s how we leave. Headed for home.
Until then, there are the roses in our lives, the many colors and kinds of love.