Yudi was dying. It’s life, I told myself. We’re eternal beings, my teacher said, on a human path. Or on an animal path, like Yudi. I didn’t want him to leave just yet. My yoga boy, purring under my solar plexus in cobra pose. How do I let him go? The greatest Zen teacher I ever had, and my first cat.
I had been washing
dishes when Michael brought him home in the palm of his hand. Sixteen years ago. Sir Yudi ‘Boo’ Longfellow we named him. Boo Boo or Yudi for short. At first, we called him ‘Hey You!’ as he raced through the house as we trailed after him like fools. He looked like a rat drinking from bowls bigger than his dark slinky body, ordained with a toothpick tail, ears that towered above his head and a grin sliced across his inky black face. The cat was driven, tearing the house up to get me out of bed every morning. He made us laugh and lived for food. Killing for cantaloupe or garbanzo beans, batting his brothers to be the first.
Today my big boy was disoriented, bony and blind and could barely walk. No one knew what was up or what to do to help him. It could be a brain tumor or some perplexing virus attacking the nerves, they said. He was deteriorating slowly. Vet #6 suggested I euthanize Yudi immediately. I couldn’t find the courage to put him down. He still wakes me up in the morning, purrs when I rub him and with help, eats like a horse. What if his soul’s work isn’t finished was yet? I didn’t want to interfere with his path.
Who was I to end his life? I had taken Buddhist vows in 1996. No killing or creating suffering for others. I asked Yudi to tell me what he wanted. I was ready to honor and respect his wishes and requests, put my own opinions and beliefs about euthanasia aside, and listen to my animals with my heart and not my mind.
Yudi was the one who gave me the abilities (animal communication) I have now. Through the years he sat on the yellow tiled kitchen countertop receiving and sending thoughts with me. Today people pay me to speak to their animals telepathically, but it’s difficult at times to hear my own animal family. I get stuck in my stuff. Yudi knew this and usually got through to me in my dreams.
Two Sundays ago Michael stopped by with Yudi’s favorite treats, baked chicken and Sun Chorella. After he left I fell fast asleep with all five cats on my twin futon and had a remarkable dream.
On a porch lay a large-boned dog with a long, sad face. He was lonely, isolated from his family and apart from his long-time friend. Suddenly a small black dog found his way back to the porch, nuzzled up to his big old friend and laid his small black paws on his arm. Everything was all right! The big dog’s eyes lit up as though he had found a treasure he thought he had lost. He lifted his heavy face into a wide Cheshire grin, exposing a row of flat human teeth.
At that point I woke up, my eyes unfocused in the hazy moonlit room. Laying there on the bed, much to my surprise was Yudi, with his head propped up inches from mine, staring at me. His coal-black paws rested on my arm. He was purring loudly, something I had not heard since his turn for the worst. I thought perhaps it was Bubby laying there, my gentle boy cat who is also black. When you’re nearsighted, everyone looks the same in the dark. I pushed my nose into his fur. Smelled like Yudi, sweet as cotton candy. I rubbed the tip of his ears. They were clipped (torn from early fights). They were Yudi ears!
What was he consoling me about in my dream? Did he think that I was missing Michael whom I had recently separated from after 22 years? Or was he telling me it was all right to let him go? That even when we’re apart he would still be here to hold my hand? He seemed to receive great comfort in comforting me.
I had always seen myself as his caretaker, although Yudi was always more loving and patient than I. Animals come into our lives as teachers and healers. Perhaps I had been the student and he my spiritual guide? Although here we were two dogs in a dream. As equal as can be. Except for our huge difference in size, there was no difference at all. I was his big old friend.
In two months Yudi’s condition worsened. I took him to a healer and psychic, who told me Yudi is a very wise soul, that he has been with me for a long time and has always been my guide. Who was he? She closed her eyes, but no images came to mind. “Yudi does not want to be put down,” she said. “He has some things to process.”
"Tell him I am ready to let him go."' I told her. Yudi answered. “Her heart isn’t.”
A few days later I sat under the lemon tree holding Yudi in my arms. His body was cool and brittle as a willow branch. He was barely hanging on. I asked him. "Who were you in my past life?" I closed my eyes. He showed me a vivid image. A dark skinned, black haired Indian man. He is dressed in white and has his arm around me. He is a wise teacher of some kind. One who cares deeply about my soul’s journey. "Why did you come back as a cat?" I asked Yudi.
He replied, “to open your heart.”
I took him back to the healer who told me Yudi would pass in a few short days. She blessed him, did some transitional work and closed her eyes. “He was a man,” she whispered after moments of silence...“an Indian man.”
I nearly fell off the chair.
Yudi stopped eating the following Tuesday evening and could not walk. The next day he could not close his eyes. His body trembled. It was time. My first time. I had no doubts in my mind.
His passing was gentle. The doctor placed a yellow rose under his chin as tears fell from my eyes. I was happy Yudi was released from his suffering. I was sad to see him go.
I remember how relaxed and relieved I was the night I opened my sleepy eyes to Yudi’s small face shrouded in the mysteries of the night. No matter what path I take or whose porch I sleep on I knew that Yudi would always find me. We never really die.
Thank you Boo Boo for opening my heart... and for that wonderful dream!
Animal Wellness Magazine