When my dead cat Coe came to me during my near-death-experience over a decade ago and showed me that I had to learn to put my burdens down, I realized that cats have a special relationship with the afterlife. The Egyptians knew this–cats were mummified and honored as having souls. This is why I want to write about a special cat who had a dignified death.
But first, some history: When I was a kid, nobody BOUGHT you books–you read what was available on your family’s bookshelves. In my case, it was James Thurber, especially his wonderful short story, "Snapshot of a Dog." In it, he tells about the family’s pet dog, who obviously knew he was dying, but waited all day to say good bye to each person in the family before finally dropping dead at the author’s feet (he was the last one home). He made a special effort to put his burdens down.
Now I come to Hunan. He lived with our friends Leigh and Carla McCloskey. I say ‘lived with’ because he was not a pet. I used to tell Leigh and Carla, "You can’t fool me–I recognize a guru in a cat suit when I see one!"
He became ill and began disappearing, then turning up in places where he could not possibly have gone. It was as if he was living between the worlds, partly still a material body but also something else. Then he was discovered lying outside by the pond in their garden. He was lying on a flat stone, staring down into the water at his own reflection. He remained like that, motionless, for some time. It seemed to everybody involved that he was in a state of deep contemplation or meditation. Then he died.
He was buried nearby, in the place that he loved, honoring what would certainly have been his wish.
The image shows Hunan during his final contemplation at the pond.