Last year, when my cat's health was declining, I wrote a piece called Why My Cat is My Spiritual Teacher. Recently, as a member of Michael Neill's Emerging Voices program, I was given a prompt to write from the perspective of my cat as he made his transition. The following is what emerged.
What I Wish My Humans Knew (on behalf of "Grayman" aka "Earl Gray" (the Cary Grant of cats).
First of all, when I was in a physical body, I had the best home any cat could have wanted: I could roam free, climb trees, chase butterflies, feel the sunshine on my fur and snuggle down on soft beds inside the house when the snowstorms raged. But best of all, I was adored by my humans. And I adored them.
I remember hearing Nina laugh about how John Edward, the American medium who talks with the dead, used to sell his services to people who wanted to make a "really, really long distance call."
But for those of us who are no longer in the physical bodies we once occupied, there's no such thing as long distance. We've never gone anywhere. The love that connected us is still as strong as it ever was and it always will be. Contrary to what most humans believe, that love never dies, it just changes the form in which it's expressed.
Humans attach a lot of importance to being in a body: how it looks, feels, what to do to protect it, keep it healthy, prevent it from getting old, and fearing the day it will die. And they have the same response to other things they care about: they want to hold on to them as long as possible and they fear change and loss.
After I left my body, which had simply worn out after many years of a well-lived life, Nina used to say - a lot - that she missed the "purr and the fur" of me. And of course, grief is a natural response in the physical world. But she often made it worse by the stories she told herself about why it shouldn't have happened and what it meant that it had.
She had fallen into the mistaken thinking most humans have, which is that when the bodies they love are gone, whether human or animal, the love is gone too. But that's the farthest thing from the truth. They just forget where or how to see it. Instead of love being contained in the form of a single body, that love is now free to be everywhere, in everything, all at once. When water evaporates, humans know that the water hasn't disappeared but has simply changed form. They don't mourn for it. They see it as a natural occurrence. But they seem to forget this natural change in form when it comes to love being in a body.
Humans have a funny way of dividing life into good and bad, then avoiding what they think is bad so they only have to experience what they think is good. But life just is.
We can't really know something unless we have something to compare it to. We know joy because we know sadness. We know kindness because we have known cruelty. I'm not sure that you can really evaluate an experience without having something to compare it to. To try to live by only accepting one aspect of life and only feeling the so-called "good" feelings is to only live half a life. It is to live only on the surface, without much depth and without the full capacity for kindness and love that come with living a full-spectrum shared experience with the rest of the beings on the planet.
We animals know, in a way most humans do not, that beyond the basic physical instincts for safety and survival and comfort, that the body is a vehicle through which the energy of life flows, in just the same way as the wind flows through the trees. That energy is made of love. Some wiser humans know this, but most do not.
Animals have no trouble slipping out of the body because we don't find anything wrong or bad about the idea of it. Of course, we love our human companions, but we also know that the love we shared is always there, and we find little ways to keep in touch - through dreams, through memories, and sometimes even making guest appearances so they can actually see us out of the corner of their eye.
When humans are able to set aside their thinking of what should and shouldn't be, they're able to notice so many subtle expressions of the love they once shared with the one who is no longer in physical form.
When they think their hearts are broken, that's only partially true. Their hearts are broken open, not apart. And with that opening, they can, if they're willing, see how love that was formerly shared just between two beings has now expanded into an unimaginably beautiful ocean of love that supports and surrounds everyone everywhere.
It does take a little bit of practice to see this, but I think my humans are starting to catch on to it...