death in the garden.

Greetings, my friends. This post was very long, and I decided to cut out 50% of it and turn it into more of a reflection, because ultimately, that was where it was leading. It was a whole lot of narrative, so this is me attempting to make a long story short.

Immediately after Salem died, another stray cat came to live in my yard, and he died recently. I knew that he was dying the first day he came to live here, so his death wasn’t a surprise. My feeling from day one was that he had some sort of degenerative neurological disease. I’d seen it before: the tremors, the spine slightly twisted, the uneven gait; how he moved along with his body low to the ground, his spine fishtailing slightly back and forth as he walked. The eyes not quite right, his vision seeming impaired.

My resolve to turn away strays after Salem’s death ended when this cat moved in and I saw that he was nearly skeletal. My conscience wasn’t having it, and Salem would’ve been dismayed, too, had I not fed him. I was just riddled with angst over his presence here because Salem’s body was still warm in her grave, so to speak, and the state I was in was one of total devastation. I saw this cat as an intruder and a usurper, but chasing him out wasn’t an option given his plight. Instead, I kept his food bowl filled and the watering hole refreshed, and I vowed to avoid developing any kind of emotional connection with him, especially since I knew that he was dying.

It was mysterious to me that the Universe thought that I was strong enough, in the wake of Salem’s death, to endure another loss, but evidently it did. It went right ahead and moved a terminally ill cat into my care.

I kept to my vow and avoided loving him, but I did become fond of him. I cared about him as well as for him. Like Salem, he wouldn’t let me near him, but he did return my eyeblink kisses a few times, telling me that he could see at least a little bit.

When he arrived, I wasn’t sure that he’d live through the week, but he filled out and grew stronger over time, and he lived for three more months – he died almost exactly three months after Salem did. He’d grown healthier in that he wasn’t starving, and happier in that he wasn’t living his waning life in desperate search of food. His life here was one of contentment. He had his favorite napping spots, sticking close to the patio, the watering hole, and the grass. Occasionally I would see him lounging on top of Geronimo’s burrow. Like Salem, he enjoyed the times that Geronimo and I interacted. He would follow us around the yard and settle down to participate energetically from a comfortable distance.

Over time, I noticed his spine turn slightly more out of alignment, and eventually, he started to limp and then drag one of his legs. Despite his gradual loss of functioning, I never felt that he was suffering or in pain.

One day, he stopped eating. He died ten days later. The last time I saw him was two days before his passing. He was sitting on the edge of the patio near his untouched food bowl, and he didn’t move as I approached and crouched down. I spoke softly to him and blinked slowly, but his eyes were vacant, and I could tell that he couldn’t see much at all anymore, if at all. He died on Thursday, October 28th. I found his body lying next to the watering hole when I came home from work. From the look and feel of him, he’d died just hours prior.

He chose to die out in the open, as if making sure that I’d find him. Cats typically hide when they know they’re about to die.

He looked as though he’d gone to sleep and never woke up, and a part of me was angry. Within days of Salem’s cruel death, another cat was placed in my yard, and three months later, I witnessed him die the sort of peaceful death that Salem had deserved. My inner juvenile wailed and raged at the unfairness of it. Why did my Salem have to die the way she did while other cats were allowed to die of natural causes? I hated feeling resentful and small like that, hated feeling my gut twist with torment over the contrast between his quiet, peaceful death in a sunny backyard oasis and Salem’s brutal killing over an alley in the dark of night.

I was mostly sorrowful, though. I always knew that he was dying, but to find his body just made me so sad.

The next day I went to work dressed up for Halloween and tried to be happy. The weekend took its course and ended with Halloween and flowed on into Monday, as weekends do. I went into work still feeling down, yet again trying to be happy. It didn’t go well. In fact, I felt worse as the day went on. The day felt cold.

I still miss him. I’d come to appreciate his energy and his beautiful spirit in the yard. His death was expected, but still, it was another loss. Nothing like losing Salem, but a loss nonetheless. My sadness was profound… nothing like my grief over Salem, but sadness nonetheless.

This brings me to the contemplative part. This little guy was the fourth cat to come into my life only to die young at the hands of the wild. Ronnie James died from a lung infection caused by ingesting a poisonous spore from a caterpillar in France. Cita died of a skin disease she contracted while trying to survive as a stray. Salem was killed by an owl. Now there was this cat, who came to me as if knowing I’d provide him with hospice. I’m grateful that he was able to pass comfortably on to a better form of existence.

What if it’s my karma to care for cats and then endure the loss of them?

I’m convinced that the Goddess Bast sent this cat to me, and that Salem, now an angel in the constellation of Leo, approved.

And so it’s cold at night now, and getting colder; I find myself hesitant to follow through on my plan to pack up Salem’s bedding on the ottoman in the laundry room. Because what if another cat comes to take shelter while dying?

It’s interesting that stray cats don’t congregate on my property, as stray cats often do. My yard is a one-cat yard. No other cat came through in the three months that this cat spent dying.

I have these pics of him:

Sitting on Geronimo’s burrow
Napping on the patio
You can kind of see the deformity of his spine in this pic
Napping on the patio

Again on Geronimo’s burrow.

It seems that I didn’t succeed at making a long story short, did I. It feels good to have written this, though. Thank you for “listening” (reading), as always, my friends. November’s full moon in Taurus with partial lunar eclipse is coming up on the 19th, and I’m going to spend it doing the shadow work begged in light of this experience.

I wish you all a magickal week ahead.

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