My brother texted me the other night, asking me to check my conversations in Facebook. That’s interesting, I thought. He usually just calls me. He asked if I would do a shout out for his dog Moose. He was pretty sure he was going to doggie heaven in the next day or so. I think that by telling me, he was hoping to gather his emotional fortitude to talk to his daughters. My nieces grew up with Moose, so that was not going to be an easy conversation for anyone, especially my already distraught brother.
It hasn’t been a good week for my family and our fur friends. Our kitty, Kisaki (that’s Japanese for queen), had surgery last week to remove two growths the appeared rather suddenly and didn’t respond to other treatment. The vet sent it off for diagnosis.
So I’ve been thinking a lot about animals and how they fit into our lives. I didn’t grow up with companion animals (yes, I didn’t use the term pet) and never, in a squillion years, thought I’d have animals. Although my kids had cats and hamsters, I wasn’t too excited about the whole endeavor. Then, after my sons were grown and out of the house, a friend who rescued cats really thought a cat would be a wonderful companion for me during a long post-surgery recuperation. Another live being in the house was how she put it.
She was right. Her name was Fumiko and she was a wonderful. She was an older cat and it was horrible when she died. She died while still at the vet’s after having her teeth cleaned. The vet and his staff were amazing, but I still called my husband and told him he had to come home.
Now, as a pastor, I’ve been around a lot of death, and kids can sometimes have a very interesting perspective. The last church I served was in downtown San Jose, California. Very urban with everything that goes along with it. The neighborhood I lived, however, was a little enclave of highly educated, professionals with young families.
A parish family lived about half a block from me. One day, Annie who was 5 and Jack who was 7, knocked on my door. They discovered a dead cat in front of my house and thought we should attend to it right away. Jack had even brought his wagon so we could transport it for burial. When I asked him where he thought we should bury it, he suggested my garbage can. After all, since the kitty’s spirit was freed from her earth suit (that was a confirmation that Jack listened to my children’s sermons!), it really didn’t matter where we buried her and it would take us a long time to dig a hole. So we wrapped up her, put her in a bag, talked about the whole experience, and buried her in the garbage can.
A few hours later, another neighbor came to my door asking me if I might have their cat. Jack and Annie were so excited about our adventure, they told everyone they saw about it. This neighbor’s cat was missing and he was pretty sure the cat we “buried” was his wife’s. Since she was pretty upset, he wanted to take the cat home. Thankfully, we didn’t have to unearth her, but I did warn him she was in a very grisly state! And, of course, Jack and Annie were a hit that Sunday during the children’s sermon.
So Moose’s long and full life on earth has come to an end. We give thanks for the joy and companionship he gave to my brother and his family. We commend his spirit to eternity. And I ask for grieving comfort for my brother and his family. Amen.
Special thanks to my sister-in-law for sending a picture of Moose.