Copyright © 1999. All rights reserved.
The following writing may not be republished or redistributed, in whole or in part, in any way including electronically, without the prior written consent of the author.
The End of the Line
by jane davis ©1999
i sensed something was dreadfully wrong when my cat, Mr. Magoo, who a friend described as "a visual experience", teetered down the hallway stopping at my office door, trying to be noble, as he wrapped his tail about him like a king, his cape. "Mee-ooow," he crooned. "Me-ooooooooow." i walked out to see what he wanted. His big, wide, dark eyes covered with cataracts, combined with the matted, dung-filled hair on the side of his head, the odor of a cat who had just defecated on himself and could no longer clean properly, told me we were nearing the end of the line.
So began the final 24 hours of one of my precious cat's nine lives.
"OH Magooey!" i cried as i picked him up held him like a baby in my arms. His eyes searched mine as they so often did. i scratched his stomach and under his chin as his head draped backwards. i walked my delicate four pound scraggly parcel of joy and pride to the bucket that has become part of an almost daily routine of cleaning around the house of missed litter box attempts. i got the scissors to cut his matted hair and the towel to moisten and wipe his face, legs and rear-end. He barely moved. Just continued his wide eyed searching and occasional meows of thanks and perhaps anguish. There was no question he had slowed down. Despite his 20 years of age, despite his near skeleton appearance, despite his near blindness, he still had been full of life and spunk. People were amazed at how he would fly thru the air from one table to another straightening his front paws to brace himself to a stop, sometimes knocking into the wall, shaking his head while he looked to see if any saw him.
The rest of the day was very still for him. He had trouble eating his treats that he constantly meowed for both day and night. He couldn't jump up to his food, so we spent time on the floor with him, feeding him, petting him, comforting him.
One thing he still could do was drink water from the dog's bowl. Sasha, one of the three dogs, was always at odds with him. When Magoo would so gallantly step up to the bowl, Sasha would watch intently - visibly distressed at the intrusion. Sasha is Alpha of the whole pack of us. she rules the humans with her humorous antics and the animals with her dominant way. She followed Magoo around all the time trying to assert herself wherever she could. Essentially, Magoo ignored her and it drove her crazy.
Friday morning at 5 AM, Magoo stood at my door and in the meekest of meek tones let out a barely audible "meow." He was calling me for the last time. That was the last "meow" he ever uttered. i went into the kitchen with him, gave him a treat which he barely ate and watched as he wandered into the hallway and crouched into one of his favorite spots. He was like a wind up toy winding down. After awhile i brought him outside and nestled him into another of his favorite spots, in the pine straw, so he could be in the fresh air. i kept checking on him. At one point he managed to move himself into the sun where he lay down and basked. i brought his bowl of water and he drank from it.
i lay down on the ground and picked him up putting him across my stomach and chest. As i gently stroked his matted fur and bony body my mind wandered back to when Mr. Magoo showed up 5 years ago and decided, after a month of living in the carport, that we had passed the test. He was moving in. And so he did. He had some strangely placed spots on his nose and eyes and i thought of the cartoon character, Mr. Magoo and his oversized glasses, thus, his namesake.
As we lay there, i could feel his life slipping away. He was so very fragile. All i could hear was his whispered breath intertwined with the wind rustling thru the tall pine trees. i kept thinking about "ruach". Roooooooohhhhhhhaaachhhh. The Hebrew word for one of our souls. Spirit. Breath. Wind. As Mr. Magoo lay across my body with his twig-like neck on mine and his head drooping onto my shoulder, i looked up at the tall pine trees watching the wind flow thru the trees and the clouds drifting by "Wind and breath. This must be ruach!," i thought. "i must be experiencing some very deep connection to an ancient word. A code. A message. YES! i'm getting a message. Ruach."
And i spent hours lying there in the most peaceful state of being. "This is it," i thought. "This is what life is about. In the most simple of moments, being present. Making time. Being there for another soul. When God called to Abraham before asking him to sacrifice his son, Abraham replied, "Hee nay nee" which means "I am here." Fully present.
i felt warmth spread across my body and the putrid odor that followed told me he had lost control of his bowels. We lay for hours like that. A feather fell from the sky and when i picked it up was amazed to see it had two black spots on it. i told Magoo the birds were waiting for his spirit to carry him to the other side. "Let go, Magoo. Let go."
And the day progressed into the night. He never moved into another position. i laid him on a pillow and towels back in the hallway. Sasha hardly left his side. It was as if she was making amends with him.
His breath was weak. Occasionally he gasped. Occasionally he cried out. Occasionally he merely sighed. We surrounded him with love. i drummed to his heartbeat with a drum that was initiated by a Santo Domingo Indian on sacred grounds in New Mexico.
At 9:30 PM Friday night, March 19, Mr. Magoo reached the end of the line. We buried him Saturday morning under the hammock. Shrouded in a tee shirt with familiar smells, his treats, some food, some kitty litter, some pine straw and grass from his favorite places Mr. Magoo was nestled peacefully deep in the ground.
It was the most peaceful death i have ever been part of. Thru Mr. Magoo i, yet again, learned the simple but powerful message of unconditional love. Ruach. Being there. Hee Nay Nee. i am here.