I unexpectedly lost a friend this past week. A very significant friend. She was my meditation partner and best cuddle buddy. I’m talking about my cat. But for those of us who have significant spiritual relationships with animals the loss of an animal friend can be as difficult as the loss of a human relationship. Maybe more difficult.
Sophie and I spent ten wonderful years together. She saw me through a near death from Tuberculosis and an abusive marriage. I saw her through a disease that in many cases would have killed her by age five. What started out as taking in a stray turned into a friendship of kindred spirits.
Recently I had learned a new meditation technique. In fact I learned it only three days before she passed. When I moved from my usual technique into the new one the first time she put a large paw on each of my shoulders and licked my nose. Then she happily moved away from me purring loudly. It was like the training wheels had come off my meditation and not only can I now ride a two wheel bike, I can soar across huge jumps without fear of falling. Afterwards she came and licked my face, nuzzling me a chirping. It was her usual reward to me for a job well done.
The same thing happened the next morning. I don’t know why, but I told her I absolutely love her and if she was ready to leave I was ready to let her go. She had battled a kidney disease for years, but was still a big, healthy, robust girl. That afternoon she came and took a long nap in my arms. The next morning we prayed and meditated together. By noontime she was laid to rest under the big cottonwood tree near where I wish to lay my own flesh down. She apparently thought I was ready, too.
This morning I didn’t want to meditate. After all, how can I find unity between my physical emotional, mental, and spiritual bodies while experiencing a deep sense of separation. How can I accept the reality that my dear friend is gone from this plane of existence while my emotions are in a place of denial?
I got in the shower instead of settling down to prayer and meditation. While thinking about the world in general and allowing my emotions to begin sorting themselves out I saw one of Sophie’s hairs high up on the wall. I have no idea how it got there. I had just cleaned the shower two days before hand. But there it was – the last lesson she had to teach. In that instance as I looked at the last physical reminder of our life together I had a flash of insight.
Experiencing unity of self with the Divine while feeling the pain of separation is exactly why we engage in meditation. It is in unity with Gd that we are most honest. To feel pain while resting in the Light is to be at one with ourselves and Gd. To accept the pain of greif is to allow both healing Nourishment into our hearts while allowing the Breath of Spirit to gently refresh us. It is in that moment we cease desiring what was and what could be and simply exist without suffering.
And with that, I’m at peace to say my final Goodbye to my dear friend.