Living Well, Dying Well: Remembering Billy

One week ago today, almost exactly to the minute as I'm writing this, I helped my cat Billy transitioned to the non-physical. He had been getting progressively ill for a while, and he finally let me know he was ready to go. He was 17 at the time of his ascension. But I will say this for my boy: he did things his way, and in doing so, he both lived well and died well. Who can ask for anything more than that?

Living Well

Billy was from the local humane society and came to live with us when he was approximately 8 years old.  I never asked Billy the back story of how he got there and he never shared that bit of information. One of the staff members from the humane society told me they had to send someone out to the home to pick him up as he was hiding under a bed and wouldn't come out.

When he came to live with us, Billy was scared. He was scared of dogs and I had 2 big dogs at the time. Billy was scared because he didn't know what he could or should expect of his new life. Everything was BIG and new and different.

I spent a lot of time holding him, comforting him, telling him he was safe. My orange tabby cat, Scheisters, stepped in and literally took Billy under his wing. Sweet Emmie, one of the dogs, nurtured and comforted Billy too, showing him he didn't need to fear all dogs.

With all the love and support Billy experienced he soon felt comfortable enough to be himself and carve his own special place in the family dynamics.

Billy's Illness

Billy abhorred change. Leaving Minnesota, moving to Illinois and then almost immediately relocating to Montana was hard on him. The stress and the upheavals of the moves took its toll on Billy, initially showing up as UTIs.

After a particularly distressing visit to a vet, Billy refused to go to the vet anymore. He was adamant he wanted to do things his way, live his life his way. This was hard for me to hear, and even more difficult to not pull the 'human' card on Billy, the card that says "I'm the human and I'll decide what's in your best good".

So we did things Billy's way, which included working closely with another animal communicator, a kinesiologist, creating a more natural diet that supported his wellness (instead of his illness) and working with essential oils and crystals.

I was nervous, scared, afraid to trust what Billy was telling me but even more afraid not to trust his wisdom. Billy was happy, calm and for the most part retained his quality of life until the end.

Dying Well

Mostly to assuage my fears and and feelings of helplessness, I called the vet a couple of weeks before Billy's transition to discuss end of life procedures. Would a vet come to the house? Yes, if at all possible one would come out after clinic hours. How would the cremation be handled? The vet's office would take care of all the details.

So began the death vigil.

Billy shared his fears with me, explaining why he was continuing to hold on so doggedly when his body was in such obvious distress and decline.

  • He had witnessed the extreme grief I had experienced when my horse Shiloh passed, and Billy didn't want to cause me to experience that again. I explained to him that Shiloh's passing was completely unexpected and I was not with him when he passed, that's what had made it so difficult for me. I assured Billy we would be together at his passing.

  • He didn't want to leave me, he didn't want to be "that far away" from me. I told him that because we were at a higher altitude in the mountains than we had been in the Midwest we were closer to Heaven, and therefore would be closer together. He liked that.

  • He was afraid of 'the shot', afraid that it would hurt. I told Billy the vet would make it as easy as possible for him and that I would be there with him, holding him, or at least touching him, the entire time.

The day came when Billy said he was ready, "today is the day". I called the vet's office and made arrangements for her to come out after work.

Billy didn't last that long. About noon I called the vet and said we would be coming in as soon as I could get there.

One of my friends drove us to the vet, allowing me to hold Billy for the entire car ride. As we prepared to leave, Raven helped by warming up the blanket for Billy before I wrapped him in it, and Max barked Billy off in style and with proper cacophony.

While at the vet's office I held Billy and using the shamanic skills I've learned the past year I journeyed with Billy to the Stars and handed him over. Completely, peacefully and willingly.

By the time the vet came in for 'the shot', Billy was for all practical purposes gone.

Billy died well. He left nothing undone in the physical world, there were no loose ends. Billy was able to transition without regrets and in complete peace.

My gratitude to all who have been with us on this journey - Kristen Hanson Scanlon, who has been basically 'on call' for Billy the past few weeks; his kinesiologist Sherri Cleveland who helped him retain his spunk longer that than would have been otherwise possible; Jane Joy Sparks who chauffeured us to the vet, allowing me to hold him during the car ride (he hated car rides), Kelley Harrell who helped Billy be more of himself towards the end and Grant Creek Veterinary Services who have been instrumental and flexible in helping me help Billy cross over. Dr. Johnson gave the injection, Billy called her 'a nice lady'.

Here's To New Beginnings,