Zen and the Art of Dying

Tuesday, January 17, 2006 | 0 Comments

I woke up this morning and found Zen, my cat, lying in the chair that I reupholstered last year. I suspected something was wrong by the way that he was lying, so I reluctantly reached out to touch him. Then Zero came up and stuck his nose right in his face and didn't get a good swat like he always does.

Yeah, he had died sometime in the night.

I woke SSB up to tell him. He leapt out of bed confused, saying, "What? But he ran to greet me last night when I came home from work. He was playing with my computer. Dead?"

I had begun to wonder if maybe I hadn't been hasty, but when we got downstairs and both gave him a nudge we could tell that he was cold and stiff.

We looked at each other and I said, "Well, at least it wasn't a long drawn out death and he was able to enjoy his time before he died. And now we know that there most likely was not a thing we could have done to save him."

It seemed to have been a nice peaceful death, which is what I hoped for him. He was a really good cat. We will miss him very much.

Go here to read more about Zen.

BTW: We are having trouble figuring out what to do with his body. We have considered donating it to science or waiting until spring to bury him. Someone at work just suggested a viking funeral. Maybe even a funeral pyre?

On another upside, SSB and I now have some experience wrapping up a body. ;P
Hey, I can't help the funny in the face of death and loss. My dad's side of the family is mostly Irish.


Blogger Courtney said...

My heart goes out to you, Sylvana. Losing a pet can be very difficult...but, like you, I am glad that he didn't suffer like you worried he would.

January 17, 2006 9:27 AM

Blogger Dr. Who said...

Dying like that is what I consider luck (for the one who dies) and a happy death. One night being able to have fun with your beloved and not waking up the morning after...

Unfortunately it is very unpleasant for everybody else - losing a beloved so suddenly is not what everybody wishes for - but I guess you'll agree its better this way...

January 17, 2006 9:33 AM

Blogger Derek Knight said...

I'm sorry to hear about your kitty...It was inevitable, though and (like you said) at least it wasn't drawn out.

Seriously, though...Viking funeral.

January 17, 2006 10:02 AM

Blogger "AG" said...

Sorry. :( But yes, a peaceful death is the best way to go.

January 17, 2006 10:20 AM

Blogger evilsciencechick said...

So sorry, sweetie! But he had a peaceful death, and a very happy life with you.

Your local vet should have some ideas on how to properly...ok, "dispose of body" sounds like you're trying to cover up a murder. What is the right term here???

Anyway, they might be able to cremate Zen themselves for a small fee.

Or..yeah. Viking funeral. awesome.

January 17, 2006 11:16 AM

Blogger sands of time said...

Im so sorry you have lost Zen.

January 17, 2006 1:33 PM

Blogger nope said...

Zen did what many humans dream of. Lucky cat, to the end. He had a good family, a good life, and a swift ending. What cat could ask for more?

January 17, 2006 8:41 PM

Blogger OldRoses said...

Sylvana, I am so sorry for your loss. I'm still mourning the cat we lost three years ago. If you decided to bury him, make sure it's a REALLY DEEP hole. Animals might, um, exhume him. We had ours cremated BTW. It was rather expensive.

January 18, 2006 12:07 AM

Blogger Wendy A said...

Too bad. However that is a lucky cat that went so quickly.

January 18, 2006 3:44 AM

Blogger galetea said...

Sorry about your lovely cat. It always seems so cruel that we canget so attached to things that have, like, 1/4 of our lifespan. I'm glad he didn't suffer!

January 18, 2006 6:21 AM

Blogger Lindsay Lobe said...

Sorry to heart about your cats passing.

Cats have had mystical meaning for many past civilisations and especially Egyptians. With that in mind I adapted the first verse of one of my poems for Zen.

Can we join with the "Jellicle" cats at the Jellicle ball where they rejoice with their leader, Old Deuteronomy and hope Zen will be chosen to go to the "Heavy side Layer" and be reborn.

Zen’s passing

As the sunset rays cast their fading light
Birds fly past to rest for the night
Night air cools as the sky is at dusk
Farwell to his toils, time for Zen’s rest

Whispering spheres of a neo light form
Spiritual heavens in explosion and storm
Peace is that energy a dream in his mind
Peace and rest for a cat of that kind

January 18, 2006 6:46 AM

Blogger Shamus O'Drunkahan said...

The "funny in the face of death" remark is so true. Us Irish may have no culinary or curtural contributions to the world, but we know how to send a loved one on to the next life with a laugh.

I'm leaving instructions in my will that my wake be an open bar, just to facillitate a real party.

January 18, 2006 7:31 AM

Blogger DrMax said...

I will drink a toast to Zen this evening and his honor, chase a cat toy around the living room.

January 18, 2006 4:27 PM

Blogger Irb said...

Sorry to hear about the Zen kitty, sweetheart :(

It sucks that we always outlive our pets. That's why my next pet is going to be a toroise. Not only do they live roughly 7,000 years, but they hardly ever get up on the furniture...

January 18, 2006 4:54 PM

Blogger Sylvana said...

Courtney, thank you.

Dr. Who, yeah, death sucks the worst for those left behind.

Derek, with all the bodies of water frozen over, I'm trying to figure the logistics on a viking funeral. Ice auger? Bonfire on the ice?

AG, I hope that my death is peaceful.

ESC, I felt like we were trying to cover up a murder when we were, uh, "packaging" him up. I asked the vet about cremation. $140. Or they will store his body in their freezer for free until the spring. We might go with option #2. Free is good.

Pink Lady, thank you.

Indiaiynke, I know that he knew how great he had it here. He told us every day.

OldRoses, I think that they will never be out of our minds and hearts.
Thanks! I will certainly be digging a DEEP hole!

Wendy A, he was a very lucky cat and we were very lucky too.

Galetea, I think cats and dogs should live to at least 30!

Lindsay, thank you for the lovely poem. I will be sure to put that in his resting place with him.

Shamus, an open bar at an Irish wake is implied! When my grandma died several years ago, we all sat around laughing about the funny things that we remembered about her, getting really drunk, then going downtown to start some fights.

DrMax, that sounds like a plan!

Irb, your pet could become a family heirloom. "Son, this tortoise has been passed down through our family for 12 generations. Now it is your turn to take over the family tradition. Our tradition really likes lettuce."

January 18, 2006 7:19 PM

Blogger Lyvvie said...

Love to you. We lost a cat recently too, so know how you feel.

Seeing as you are such a garden person, I would have thought you'd be happier having Zen put back to the Earth; but I assume you have frozen soils and a where to keep him until the thaw issue...which can be a problem.

Anyone you know with a chest freezer?

January 19, 2006 12:54 AM

Blogger Shannon said...

I'm sorry for your loss, but I'm happy that for Zen, it was a peaceful and natural death on comfy chair.

January 19, 2006 8:38 AM

Blogger Sylvana said...

Lyvvie, our ground is frozen solid under about a foot of snow, so I have to wait until the ground thaws. That should be some time in April, maybe. His vet is holding him in his freezer until then.

Shannon, it certainly was a death true to his name.

January 20, 2006 8:05 AM

Blogger pastamasta said...

Big hugs from all here in Pastaland. Here's to Zen: long may he chase small furry creatures and snooze in front of comfy fires in the celestial halls of Cat Valhalla.

January 20, 2006 10:44 AM

Blogger Sylvana said...

PastaMasta, he might chase small eight-legged creatures, but he wasn't too fond of small furry creatures.
Now, the comfy fire would be his cup of tea!

January 21, 2006 6:44 PM

Blogger Elizabeth said...

So sorry about your kitty. At least he died loved, which is pretty much anybody can ask for.

January 23, 2006 7:50 AM

Blogger canuk said...

Sylvana, I am so sorry to hear this about your beloved Zen. But think back on all the happy times you and your family spent with him, and be thankful his passing was peaceful. Isn't that all we wish for with any family member or close friend?

Cats are much like humans aren't they? All they really want when you get right down to basics, is love, attention and sustenance. And think of what we receive in return....unconditional love. It is a wonderful reciprocal relationship.

I often look at my wonderful little Sasha, and think about what I would do without her hopping up on the bed for her last cuddle of the day. And also her funny little ways of meowing away and eventually me understanding what the heck it is she is asking for. Just so lovable.

Sorry Sylvana, I'm rambling, which I have a tendency to do when on the subject of a family pet.

Take care my friend, and just remember the happy times you had with Zen. I'm sure there were many.

January 23, 2006 8:40 AM

Blogger Sylvana said...

Elizabeth, thanks. He certainly was loved.

Canuk, Zen and I definitely understood each other. One of the last things I remember about him was when he came running right up to me on the couch, looked me right in the face and said, "MEOW!" I immediately leaped up saying, "Someone blocked Zen from his litter!" And sure enough, that is exactly what he had come to tell me! He tended to come to me when he had specific requests because I knew just what it was that he was asking for.

January 23, 2006 5:24 PM