Over a week ago, Miss Hailey, my Sweet Love’s feline crossed the rainbow bridge. I witnessed how one moment her 20-year-old body had life then in the next few moments all became very quiet in the silence death brings. No more meowing, purring, or yawling. No more sights of her licking her paws, eating her food, or dipping her paw in the water bowl then licking her paw, her unique way of hydrating. While she didn’t like her whole body being petted, she loved her head being very gently caressed, especially behind her ears. In her healthy days, she enjoyed chasing a moving light on the carpet, batting at a toy, or rolling in catnip. She loved curling up at my feet or my Sweet Love’s feet when we typed busily on our laptops.
Miss Hailey taught my dog, Layla, who died a year ago almost to the day, that she, Miss Hailey, remained the queen of the house. After a couple swipes from Miss Hailey, Layla learned to stay calm in her dog bed when Miss Hailey strutted into the room. Layla would raise her eyebrows, make brief eye contact with Miss Hailey, then turn her head, and curl up for a dog nap. If Miss Hailey could talk, she’d likely have said, “Yeah. I’m the queen. Cats rule. You lowly dogs think you can catch us, but you won’t ever get this gorgeousness. Plus, I’ve got claws, a fluffy tail that floats by you wafting like a regal plume hand wave. Hah!”
Returning to the grief love place felt familiar, yet different. I got caught off guard. Intellectually, I was well-prepared for Miss Hailey’s death. She’d been declining for weeks. Yet, my heart felt the suddenness, the surprise clutch, gasp of “No! Not Now! Really? Why this death thing?” I cried a lot. It didn’t help remembering Layla’s death.
I experienced the familiar disorientation, lack of motivation, and even a bit of an existential wondering. What does it all mean if we’re gone in one moment, one breath? Why I am I still living? Yesterday I even watched my mood turn gray like the dark, rainy day here in the mountains. I imagined a conversation taking place between two people after my death. One person would ask the other, “Did you know Laura Staley?” The other individual would say, “No, I didn’t. I’m so sorry for your loss. Can we go get some tacos? I’m really hungry.”
I’m amazed at how my ego personality grips onto a sense of significance even when the truth is when I die, life will indeed flow on. People will eat tacos. Millions of people on the planet will not ever know I existed. A handful will grieve. Maybe some will eulogize me. There will be silence in place of the noises I made including the tap, tap, tapping on my computer. Life will flow on easily, effortlessly without my presence. The sun will shine somewhere on the planet. The moon will glow. Couples will fall in love, break-up, make up, talk about the news of the day or about their happiest dreams. People will eat, use the bathroom, sleep, drink, sigh, laugh, argue, and make love. Trees will drop their leaves in autumn. Daffodils will bloom in springtime. Thank goodness!
The deeper I reflect on this truth I realize I gain a sustainable peace that passes all understanding.
I notice my body relaxing fully into a savoring of this glorious day of sunshine, cooler autumn temperatures.
I ran early this morning in the moon’s glow, in the brisk wind while hearing the quacking, splashing of the ducks in the lake. I spotted a great blue heron in the rippling water rising over its thin, stick legs. After my run I savored sips of a hot decaf coffee with cream. I got cozy in my sweats over my running gear and meditated on my yoga mat. I took a hot shower, got dressed in jeans, a warm sweater. I ate a fruit filled breakfast.
In this moment I can delight in my continued simple sensory experiences as I take bites of a delicious salad of three different types of lettuce, apple chunks, pumpkin seeds, with bits of shredded roasted chicken. I gaze out at the trees, plants, long grasses still lush in the side yard, the patches of Carolina Blue sky between the green turning yellow leaves. I hear “I Say a Little Prayer for You’ through my speaker connected to Spotify. Amazed by the miracle of my life I can thank death, once again, for teaching me to enjoy life, to fall in love with being alive even as I grieve the loss of Miss Hailey and celebrate her wondrous years of living. Maybe I’ll make tacos for dinner tonight.
The founder of Cherish Your World, Laura Staley passionately supports people thriving by guiding them to a holistic transformation of space, heart, and life. Laura is the published author of four books including Live Inspired which reveals the brave and deep work of self-discovery and her upcoming book of short writings and poetry Abundant Heart.