General Beauregard died this morning. For nearly 18 years he has been a delightful part of my family; a gentle, sweet, handsome guy who was so easy to love. I called him Beau. He was a cat.
For the past two nights, realizing his demise was very close, I sat beside his little bed, on the floor next to my chair, to offer sips of water and to tell him how much he was loved while he was on this earth. Very late last night, forced to get some rest, I reluctantly left him lying on his warm heating pad, covered with his small blanket…the best I could provide to ease him out of this life with a minimum of aggravation and hoopla.
It’s early morning now. I have just been to check and found his suffering has ended. It’s a bittersweet feeling.
Before I wrap him up and put him in a suitable container, and before I ask a neighbor boy to help me dig a spot in the backyard to inter his emaciated little remains, and before I start the coffee and crank up the household for the day, I had to stop and share thoughts on the whole mystery of dying.
I spoke to my son on the phone last night. He is out of town until his classes at college resume next week. News of our pet’s impending death kind of took him by surprise (even though he knew there was an increasing feebleness and an obvious decline).
Being only ten years old when the little fluffy, white, elegant looking cat came into our lives, he can barely remember when we didn’t have Beau. He reminisced about all the times this pet sat patiently in his lap during many rounds of Monopoly with friends…watching every move as if it were the most fascinating game a human could play. Then, he asked me to tell this dear little animal how special he had been. I did, but as in many relationships in this life, the saying of it was more for my ears than for the one leaving.
The end of the cycle of life is such an absolute fact that it’s amazing how taken aback we are when it confronts us. We know all living things will die and more living things will take their place, but every time humans or animals pass away, something in our understanding seems to wobble around and question how this process works.
Instead of making us inconsolably lost and sad, it should sound a bell to remind us that no one escapes the final call. NO ONE! In view of that unknown future date to which we all will be summoned, doesn’t it seem like we’d be more prepared and ready to go?
Even many Christians, who should have more clarity than the average bear about what glory is in store when we board the train to Heaven, very often have fear over the inevitable process we each must face. Scripture tells us very clearly that the time we spend passing through this sick and groaning earth is short…like a vapor…and that REAL LIFE is yet to come.
When rendered to its simplest form, I guess what I want all of us to try to grasp is this: death is a ticket. We haven’t reached our final destination; we’re merely on the way. Some will get there sooner than others, but with belief in Jesus Christ and faith to keep us going until it’s our turn, we should embrace the wonder of it. Grief is only for a season, but JOY will come in the morning of our first day in that perfect place.
In the meantime, be sure the ones you care about know that life here is not the end of us…we have a date with something much bigger. It wouldn’t hurt to tell them how much they have been loved, whether or not they can respond. Neither would it hurt to ask forgiveness from others we may have hurt, and especially from God, our Father. Hearts can often hear what ears cannot, and words may be the soothing balm that help a saved dear one to let go and sail on to the best home imaginable.
And finally, some things (like death) are meant to remain a MYSTERY…a God thing…and the best we can do is not waste time in fretting about how they work, but just keep marching forward until it’s our turn to step through the veil where the stunning truth of it will be revealed.
We are charged to study and accept what our Maker has spelled out for us in His Word. It would behoove us, as His children, to listen to the Holy Spirit…and then be at peace about the whole thing. After all, we are not animals.
Please Note: I am not making any claim about whether or not our pets will be in heaven. There are arguments for both sides of that question. We'll just have to wait and see.
Oh, Linda, you made my heart's volcano erupt with your story and the message coming through it. Strangely, it reflects what we read, this morning, in today's (3/16) Daily Light on the Daily Path scripture devotion. (James 4:14, Job 9:25-26, Psalm 90:5-6,etc.) I'm so looking forward to the Lord's grand family reunion, where we will never again have to say good-bye to any of our loved ones (including pets :) - since Jesus is making ALL things new, a NEW creation. Thanks so much for sharing your reflectons! This is a keepsake for my favorites.