Hold the sadness and pain of samsara in your heart and at the same time the power and vision of the Great Eastern Sun. Then the warrior can make a proper cup of tea. – Chogyam Trungpa
My cat, Carl, is 15 years old. And he is dying. Since my dog Bernadette passed away earlier in the month, Carl is the last of the Old Guard at my homestead. In this cycle of birth and death in which we find ourselves, the energy of old life forces must give way to the new.
I got Carl and his brother Lenny in 2003 when I lived in Florida. They were a gift from my friends Rich and Michelle after my first cat, Krishna, passed away. Lenny died at the age of 4 from some rare feline virus. This was Lenny:
Fortunately, Carl moped and hissed and snarled his way into old age.
Carl’s health took an enormous downturn after Bernadette’s passing. I am nearly certain that he would have died weeks ago if it wasn’t for my new pup, Jesse, and the gentle compassion (and occasional playful harassment) that he provides to Carl. For a while there, Carl seemed to be improving, but now it’s almost time for him to let go and end the struggle. But he’s a fucking tough guy. He is rising to the occasion as though he wants to give everything he’s got to this final challenge and for the moment, he’s giving a big middle claw to the Grim Reaper, while simultaneously making it crystal clear that he doesn’t need my sympathy – just occasional bowls of tuna juice so he can recharge himself for the fight. Damn straight.
Meanwhile, Jesse is settling in wonderfully. Here he is in another crappy flip-phone picture I took last night:
Back in March, I wrote a scathing post about Carl for my previous blog. I have decided that I am going to re-post it today as a tribute to the toughest feline motherfucker I’ve ever known. If anyone finds it to be an inappropriate homage to a dying creature, keep in mind that he’s a frigging cat. I love you, Carl. Fight the good fight, Brother, but it’s okay to let go when you’ve had enough. With a final meow, Samsara becomes Nirvana.