Although my gorgeous lilac burmese cat Kaiser, passed over in 1997, I remember it like it was yesterday and the sadness still remains. He was 13 years old and for several years previous, I had known he was suffering from kidney failure. It was only during the last 3 weeks of his life that he started to slowly dwindle down and I knew it wouldn’t be long until the end.
Each day I rushed home from my counselling work in town to my rural property, hoping to find him basking in the winter sunshine and praying I would be with him during the end. Each day he was happy to see me return and didn’t leave my side for a minute. He became incontinent in the last 10 days, which was rather awkward, but still I persisted in looking after him, keeping him warm and wrapped up on our cold winter mountain. My house had a firebox wood heater and I made a bed for him each night in front of the fire instead of his usual bed which was my bed.
One night around 3:00am, I dreamt of a gang of men breaking into my bedroom, yelling at me “Get up, get up, get up”. I woke with a shock, not knowing what was happening. As I lay there alone, I pondered over why I would dream this dream and what could it possibly mean. I then heard a noise from the firebox, not unlike like a loud thump.
I literally jumped out of bed and raced to the loungeroom. Kaiser had started to fit and as I held him, I whispered soothingly to calm him as best as I could. He was crying and frightened. Although he soon lost consciousness and I saw the last vestiges of awareness leave his open eyes, I believe he knew I was there with him until the end. His breath continued rhythmically and he now looked as if he was asleep with his eyes wide open. He appeared to be in some sort of half dream limbo between worlds.
As I held him during the small hours of the cold night, a vision formed in my mind’s eye. Slowly the figure of the Grim Reaper came to me from the darkness with arms outstretched. He or it was terrifyingly large and as clear as daylight. He wanted something. He was restless and insistent and I knew I couldn’t refuse. It seemed almost as if I was powerless and had to comply. The Spectre motioned to me to hand Kaiser over. I wasn’t afraid but there seemed nothing else I could do but hand over my friend. As I did, Kaiser looked up at me with his eyes full of trust and then changed his appearance to his former glory of a young adolescent cat in full health. The Grim Reaper then took him and returned to the light. They were gone.
At that moment, I was then disturbed from my reverie by the local rooster crowing. On the first crow, Kaiser took his last breath. On the last crow, he was gone. It was 5:00am exactly. I knew Kaiser had left me the ultimate message in his death. He and the Grim Reaper had waited until the rooster crowed to tell me that it was the beginning of a new day dawning. That in a very real way there was life after death. Although my friend had left, I would see him again sometime. For this I thank the Spectre of Death, who has visited me several times since in matters of life and death.