This is Merlin, who charmed his way into my heart when he was a very small kitten who had been abandoned by his mother. I was privileged to share his life on Earth for almost 11 years. He left to go to the Rainbow Bridge on June 26, 2001.
Merlin - I lovingly called you "the Mess" because you never seemed to know what to get into next. Terrorizing Kalli was high on your list, but making me turn on the water faucet was important, too. You'd always come for "shower time," and let me know if it was bedtime according to *your* clock. You couldn't have a good day unless it started with a "butt scratch," so I spent a good deal of trying-to-get-dressed time each morning scratching in front of your tail. If you hadn't had enough, you let me know, putting your paw on my leg & looking up at me. And always I took the time for you.
You disappeared into the woods during your last week with me, and I was certain you'd gone there to depart on your own terms, knowing that the kidney failure was winning in spite of our best attempts. When I finally did find you, though, trying to get back to the house, I asked you please not to leave without saying good-by.
In the greatest honor I've ever been bestowed, you honored that request. I was surprised on Tuesday morning, June 26, to see that you were still here; I was so certain you'd have left during the night. I picked you up gently, and carried you outside to the patio. The sky was deeply blue, the trees and grass so green, the temperature was mild, and the birds were singing. . . I sat in the chair & held you to me, so you could hear my heartbeat and my voice, telling you over & over & over that I love you. I promised that there'd be birds singing where you were going, and tall grass that you could stalk through, playing tiger the way you enjoy, and chipmunks & squirrels to watch. And your old pal Scruffy, our dog, would be there, too. And so many friends of mine that you hadn't yet met. And in no time at all, I'll be back with you. It will seem long to me over here, but over there, there is no time. And you'll always have the same perfect day you had for your departure. I see that big, fluffy grey tail, held high once more, and I know that *you* are happy, but I miss you terribly. I am grateful that you didn't leave without saying good-bye, that we had that final few minutes together, alone, with the perfect weather & the birds. You remain a blessing in my life, and I am grateful to God for you.
Merlin's First Portrait
This was Merlin for his very first Christmas, 1990.
In the words of Trisha Yearwood:
If I had known the way that this would end,
If I had read the last page first,
If I had had the strength to walk away,
If I'd known how this would hurt--
I would have loved you anyway,
I'd do it all the same,
Not a second I would change,
Not a touch that I would trade;
Had I known my heart would break,
I would have loved you anyway.
Merlin has always known how to charm.
Of course, he's always been equally good at being mischievous!
It is so very hard to accept the passing of an innocent friend, one who has done no harm, who has brought only joy. When my small, beautiful cat Waif passed to the Rainbow Bridge, I put my thoughts into order for a church newsletter. Perhaps those thoughts will help someone else come to terms with the pain.
Cool and cloudy, Easter Sunday was the kind most people spend indoors. I thought the big cherry tree on the hill across the road might be blooming, though, so I strolled over. Not only was the tree not in bloom, it had died. Looking up, I could see where the largest limbs had broken off: the tree was starting to deteriorate. For a fruit tree,it was huge and must have been quite old. It seemed so sad to see it dead on Easter, the celebration of life. Still, I remembered the year my family and I had picked fruit from it: large, dark cherries, the sweetest we'd ever tasted. The tree is gone, but we still have the memory of the pleasure it gave. Death is not the end of everything.
The small tamarack grove nearby attracted me, so I wandered through, looking for signs of wildlife. A stirring in the branches overhead made me looke up in time to see a pair of hawks take flight for the farther woods. A scattering of bright blue on the beige tamarack needles covering the ground caught my attention. Obviously, a blue jay had been someone's meal - perhaps the hawks' or a cat's or weasel's. The brillant blue feathers were almost obscene on that grey afternoon. Poor jay, no more to bring the blue of the sky down to earth - another sign of death on this feast of life. Yet the predator had needed that bird; he, too, had a right to live. Some of the vibrant blue feathers now brighten my desk, so the jay is still bringing pleasure. Death is not the end of everything.
These signs of death on Easter became more personal three nights later when a small friend of mine - the much loved cat who'd been my constant companion - was killed on the road. Amid love and tears and with an appropriate prayer, we buried Waif - yet another death mixed with Easter joy. To lose Waif hurt, but when I found myself asking what I'd done to deserve the pain, I realized it was more appropriate to ask myself what I'd done to deserve all the little joys she'd brought me with her antics. God had generously lent her to me for two happy years; she's His to take, but He has left me with her memory. Death is not the end of everything.
Thoreau wrote, "In the woods, we return to reason and faith." So as I sat in solitary retreat beside a stream in a mountain forest a few Sundays after Easter, all these thoughts returned and put themselves into order, easing the pain and clarifying the fact of death. Death is not an end at all: it is merely a continuation of life in a form we are not yet permitted to know. The mountain ceaselessly changes: springs begetting streams, other streams drying up; seedlings growing to saplings to trees while other trees die; water wearing away rock here only to deposit silt there. Yet the mountain remains the mountain. Life, too, ceaselessly changes yet remains life.
Some claim that an animal's life ends at his death; some say he's not worthy of grief, being "only" an animal. What an injustice to God to believe that an animal can be born, experience nothing but pain (as so many do), and then die only to melt into oblivion! Such a sterile plan could not be worthy of the Creator. Then there are the pets who, like Waif, are loved and cared for, who earn their way by the affection and joy they bring to those to whom God has entrusted their care. Those animals serve a positive purpose: they evoke kindness, compassion, and service, traits that are meant to grow to emcompass other humans and, ultimately, all of creation. They are a means God uses to help us to learn to live in harmony with each other and with the rest of his creation. When we practice kindness, compassion, and service, we are mirroring divine traits, no matter the object of those traits.
Having been worthy of our love and care here, having brought us joy and led us to thank and praise God for His creation, can those animals we've loved be denied us in Heaven? I think not. Perhaps they don't have human souls, but God finds them worthy of creation and has given them a purpose within His eternal plan. It seems incongruous to imagine St. Francis of Assisi in Heaven without his beloved birds and animals. God filled Paradise with all kinds of animals: does He do less for Heaven?
We have not earned the gift of life any more than the "lesser" animals have; only human arrogance can lead us to believe that their lives deserve less respect than our own. They, too, are a part of creation, given to us to use to meet our needs - physical and emotional; they are not ours to abuse, but to respect and to love.
Merlin loved the woods around our cabin in the mountains.
There was always something interesting in the woods.
The great humanitarian, Dr. Albert Schweitzer, who had a great respect for *all* life, composed a beautiful prayer for animals. Perhaps, if we all said it every day, our nonhuman neighbors on this Earth might have an easier time of it:Hear our humble prayer, O God, for our friends the animals, especially for animals who are suffering; for any who are hunted or lost or deserted or frightened or hungry; for all who must be put to death. We entreat for them all Thy mercy and pity, and for those who deal with them we ask a heart of compassion and gentle hands and kindly words. Make us, ourselves, to be true friends to animals and so to share the blessings of the merciful.
Merlin with an attitude!
Merlin knows that he is king of all he surveys.
Here is a prayer that I composed; you may wish to save it for the appropriate time. It is comforting to know that our nonhuman companions are blessed by the Creator and will live with their loved ones for all Eternity.
Prayer on the Death of a Furchild
Blessed are you, Lord our God,
and worthy to be praised
in all times,
in all places,
and in all things.
So,Lord, our hearts heavy with grief
over the passing our beloved ______,
we praise you for your generosity
in allowing us the blessing
of sharing his/her life.
Thank you, Lord,
for choosing us
to share ______'s time here on Earth,
and thus the ones to share Eternity with him/her.
______ brought much joy into our lives
with his/her affection, playfulness,
loyalty, and unique personality.
He/She taught us to give and to receive love;
in seeing to his/her daily needs,
we were taken out of our selves
and learned to serve you
by serving another of your holy creatures.
We are grateful, Lord, for ______'s continued presence
in our hearts and in our memories,
and commend him/her to your gentle care
in anticipation of the day we are happily reunited forever.
"A breath away's not far to where you are."
Thank you very much for visiting Merlin's site; I hope that you have found some consolation here. Won't you please sign his guestbook so that I'll know you've been here?
Hemlock Note Cards
Note cards based on my nature photography, inlcuding some cats! :)