The last year has been one of many losses for me.
My father and my grad school mentor died, followed by two of my feline children, Christopher and Gabe. Both were rescues.
Gabe and I fought a fierce battle against his congenital PKD (polycystic kidney disease), after his acute renal failure, with daily “hydration” and assorted meds and supplements. That won my dear boy six extra months of life beyond the two that the vet had predicted.
Through it all, Gabe was the very soul of patience and stoicism. He never complained but remained his loving self. He didn’t want to go even at the end, when he could no longer walk. He so wanted to stay….
It’s been more than 3 months since I lost Gabe. Only now can I write about him without falling to pieces.
Of all of humanity’s challenges and difficulties, death — of our loved ones and of ourselves — is the most daunting.
I had found comfort in the words of J.R.R. Tolkien in Lord of the Rings:
“End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. There’s another path; one that we all must take. The gray rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and it will change to silver glass, and then you see it—white shores; and beyond them, a far green country under a swift sunrise.”
But what follows is even better. This is the most beautiful explanation of Death I’ve seen.
A sick man turned to his doctor as he was preparing to leave the examination room and said, “Doctor, I am afraid to die. Tell me what lies on the other side.”
Very quietly, the doctor said, “I don’t know.”
“You don’t know? You’re a Christian man, and don’t know what’s on the other side?”
The doctor was holding the handle of the door. On the other side came a sound of scratching and whining, and as he opened the door, a dog sprang into the room and leaped on him with an eager show of gladness.
Turning to the patient, the doctor said, “Did you notice my dog? He’s never been in this room before. He didn’t know what was inside. He knew nothing except that his master was here, and when the door opened, he sprang in without fear.
I know little of what is on the other side of death. But I do know one thing…. I know my Master is there and that’s enough.”