This year has been one of the harder ones in my life. I have been surrounded by friends and family who have suffered in deep ways. The melancholy I feel as the year comes to an end seems honest and justifiable. The lingering mood is full of memories that encompass great loss that can only be accompanied by the reality that great love has been a part of each cycle that now rests.
A few months ago, my husband and I said goodbye to our six-year-old cat, Luna. It was sudden. She was a playful, fun, whimsical cat who was always comfortable in her surroundings, never needing more than what was present in all of us. She was our little Yoda, we often said. One day, we noticed she looked swollen in her abdomen, and twenty-four hours later, we learned she was dying of congestive heart failure. The cardiologist told us her heart was beating four hundred beats per minute, like that of a hummingbird. She would soon drop dead or have a violent seizure. The best thing we could do for her was to help her die and to do it as soon as possible. So we found ourselves racing. Racing to find death before it could find her.
Four years ago, I said goodbye to the most precious soul I have ever known. My dog, Lily. We had some time to prepare for this day, and she had lived a full life. Preparing to say goodbye was such a precious, tender time that I will never forget. It changed me forever. However, with Luna, there was no time to prepare. All we could do was try and get her to the vet as quickly as possible so she could transition with dignity and without any pain or trauma.
Racing to find death. To meet death. It was an experience I could have never imagined.
The marks the experience left—the scars—keep me grounded, grateful, and a little melancholy even in my most whimsical, lighter moments these days. Late now in the year, I prepare for the death of 2017 as the birthing pains of 2018 begin.
I am grateful for this transition. I am preparing for it in a precious way, trying not to race toward it. It isn’t necessary this time. It is time to harvest the gifts of love that inevitably bring losses and sorrow and to allow those love-gifts to be planted so they can grow in the new year. In the journey forward, the heart and the mood of the soul will be honored.