Lessons from my Cat

Rusty the Cat

The time came last week for us to euthanize our 17 year-old cat, Rusty. His kidneys had failed and his bladder ruptured. We did not wish to prolong his agony. It was a very hard decision for Paul and me, but his death taught us about a paradox of life, even as he died in our arms.

Death comes like we live. I have seen both animals and people die in much the same way as they live. Rusty’s life was gentle, and so was his death. Some years back, my horse, Sam, had to be put down due to inoperable colic. He was a connector. We led him to the place of his burial, and before the vet gave him his shot, my husband said a prayer. Afterwards, Sam’s head, which had been on the ground due to the sedative, lifted up and he looked at each one of us, to say goodbye. He went down as gently as he lived.

In every ending there is a beginning, just like the transition of frozen earth to sprouting seed. The only constant is change. Light is seen best in contrast to dark. And so life is often felt most poignantly at the moment of its end.

I wrote this poem for Rusty, and for all those who have gone before us. May it be a blessing to each of you who have lost someone special.


Oh but from the flight of fright
we leave this earth
from dark to light
while making way for birth

of something yet unknown
for in each moment
we are loaned
there lies an omen

steamed upon our hearts
a brand of belonging
honoring all our parts
in the home of longing

and beyond our knowing
resides the icy fray
of fire glowing
night and day

illuminating gray
as is the way of truth
where opposites at play
bend old again to youth.







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10 Responses to Lessons from my Cat

  1. Elaine Naddaff says:

    Hi Eileen, So sorry for your loss and glad you wrote the poem. I know Rusty was a companion for many years to you and your family. Anyhow, my words of solace are found in the poem by
    T.S. Eliot, “The Old Gumbie Cat”. Remember the poem about Jennyanydots…

  2. Hello Eileen,

    So nice to read this ode to Rusty. What a good fellow he was! I love the photo of him, it captures his forth-right dignified nature, which was a wonderful reminder that we could all be so grounded in our being. Animals have a lot to teach us about our essence, Rusty was no exception to that.
    May he travel gently, as he lived.

  3. Phyll says:

    My heartfelt condolences and understanding to you and Paul for saying goodbye to Rusty.
    The timing of your blog and Rusty’s passing is amazing, as my beloved pup, Sweetie Sue, is also on the downward spiral or, as they say, about to cross the “Rainbow Bridge.” I’m still doing everything I can for her, and she’s resting comfortably, but just this morning I learned that Sweetie’s kidneys aren’t working well and, besides supplements, there’s nothing that can be done.
    So I, too, am mourning her loss even as she sleeps this morning. A sad time—for us all.

  4. Dear Phyll, so sorry for the impending loss of your beloved pup. Animals are such good friends to us. Sometimes it can be surprising just how much they mean until they’re gone. But I know you appreciate them every day. May her passing be peaceful. Warm hugs, Eileen

  5. Louise Gilbert says:

    Dear Eileen, I am sending my heartfelt condolences on the passing of Rusty–a mighty handsome boy! Your beautiful poem is a powerful reminder of the cycle of life for all beings! Yomi and I send our purrs and love, Louise

  6. Judith A. Meyncke says:

    Dear Eileen, Thank you so much for sharing this heartfelt experience. Please accept my prayers and thoughts at this time. I am so sorry. What struck me, was how Rusty, (your precious gift) passed away in your arms. You and your family remain special gifts to “us all” in how you share consistently, in an open, loving and honest manner. Blessings and Love, Judy

  7. Thank you Judy. Your loving response helps lessen the loss. Blessings and love to you. Eileen

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