A death in the family

You probably know how it feels. That feeling in your gut when you lose someone close to you. The sadness, the tears, those little moments when you catch yourself wondering how he or she is, only to remember that they have passed on. Depending on your beliefs you tell yourself that they have gone to heaven, passed into the next life or simply ceased to be.

We lost someone in our family this week. He had been with us for fourteen years and was our love and joy. No it wasn’t a child, a brother or a sister. It was our cat and his name was Jasper. A black, fur-covered, four legged friend of twelve years. They say that those who don’t have children often have their pets take on that role. If you are not a cat or dog person then this blog post isn’t for you.

Jasper was part of our family ever since we inherited him with a house my wife and I purchased in Kirkmichael, Ayrshire. His owner couldn’t look after him anymore so the responsibility fell to us. Anyone that has ever visited our home will have met Jasper and if you are a woman you might have had the pleasure (or not) or having him lick your earlobes!

He traveled with us as we moved homes and when we finally moved to the countryside of Perthshire, with expansive fields on his doorstep, he was in his element. Although he wasn’t great at stopping the mice, (he usually brought in more mice and birds than he kept out), he was a joy to have around the house.

Having to make the decision in a vet’s office as to whether or not to put your family pet to sleep is a horrible one and I am sure many of you reading this will have been in the same position. Signing a document with the words ‘euthanasia’ on it makes you realise that you are ending another sentient beings life in order to relieve its pain or suffering. One of the reasons my wife and I have been vegetarians for over fifteen years is to avoid our actions causing pain or suffering to animals. However the prognosis for our little cat was another week or so of life at best while at the same time having his dignity taken away from him by the onset of his tumour. So with a heavy heart we decided to have him put to sleep.

We gave him a little Buddhist ceremony in the garden, complete with incense and words in Pali. We buried him under a tree where he use to sit in the summer, observing his domain.

Sometimes it is the little things in life that give us the most joy and happiness. Often it can just be in the simple connection you get when you look into the eyes of another living, breathing traveler on this earth.

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