Crossing Over

It’s always sad when we lose one of our beloved pets, but talking about it helps. Sharing your story helps. Honoring your furry family member in any way possible helps. This is how I am processing my grief at this moment, so thank you for letting me share our story. 

I’m really not sure where the last 3 weeks have gone. I feel like I went through some strange time warp. It’s like time isn’t even a thing. I struggle to even figure out what day it is sometimes. Is time speeding up? Is anyone else feeling this? I don’t think this is just me and what I’m going through, but at least I can identify the reason for my recent black hole of time.

March 9, 2021: I knew Trotter would be crossing over within the next day or so. I had been watching him closely the last couple of weeks and was taking mental notes of his spirit leaving his body. Little by little, I felt the energy shifts and noticed the changes in his physical appearance. I was watching closely for signs of distress or pain; neither of which ever appeared. A generous blessing from the Universe–but also part of my final soul-level lesson with Trotter.

We had 30 mile an hour winds here on the ranch that day. The house rattled from the wind gusts. There was still snow on the ground in various parts of the yard. The sun was shining but another cold front was about to come through. It’s not quite spring, but the sun was coming through the bedroom blinds and I could feel its warmth. 

I laid in bed with Trotter, my head next to him, listening to his heartbeat through the pillow because he asked me not to keep touching him so much. It’s a fast beat, almost twice as fast as my own heartbeat. It’s the same beat he’s always had. Only now, the strength varies. Sometimes it’s easier to hear than others. I watch his tummy rise and fall with each breath and I know these precious moments with him are coming to an end. I close my eyes for a few seconds and just listen to heartbeats and breaths. Mine and his, silently speaking to one another.

As we breathe together, noses inches away from one another, I take in his smell, the scars on his nose and ear, his multi-colored whiskers. The sun calls to us through the dirty windows and I know we need to go outside, even for just a few minutes. Trotter won’t be able to get himself out there on his own because his hind legs are too weak to stand, but I want him to feel the warmth of the sun on his body one last time and decide I will help him make the short trip out there.

I scoop Trotter up and place him tenderly into his cat bed, since carrying him in my arms seems like it might be too uncomfortable for him. Noticing the imprint from his body on my bed pillow as I pick up him, I carry him slowly outside. I find a spot near the side of the house that is out of the wind but still in the sun for him to soak up the divine light shining down on us. I feel his energy lift slightly. He picks his head up toward the warmth, but only for a moment, and rests it back down. I hear, “Go to the grass”, and without hesitation pick up the bed and bring Trotter into the grass. I take my socks off and feel the cool, almost-spring grass beneath my feet.

As I breathe in a moment of gratitude, I look down and see Trotter crawling out of his bed, to get to the grass. His back legs are too weak to be useful, so he uses the strength in his front end to pull himself halfway off the bed and into the grass. Knowing he cannot pull himself any further, I slide the bed out from under him so his whole body can feel the fresh grass and the earth beneath him. 

I am so full of joy at this moment, that I start crying. I take a few pictures and then rest beside him. We laid there for about 20 minutes before the chill in the air began to worry me and I want to take Trotter back inside. I scoop my little man back into his bed and carry him in the house. 

Instead of returning him to his chosen spot on the bed, I decide we need to spend a little time in the living room for a change of scenery. He’s been in the bedroom exclusively for over a week; though I don’t think he hardly notices. As soon as I lay him on the couch, Trotter cuddles himself into the crook of the corner, molding himself into what looked like the coziest spot ever.   

He looked so peaceful, I didn’t dare move him to the bed when it came time to call it a night. Instead, I grabbed a pillow and blanket and made space on the couch next to him. The coffee table is a guardrail keeping me from sliding off the edge of the sofa, onto the floor. After watching him for a while, he allowed me to rest one hand on him, and we drifted into a light sleep.

A couple hours later, I am woken up by one of the other cats trying to get into the kitchen cabinet. “Are you kidding me? It’s midnight. What on earth are you guys doing?” I whisper-holler into the next room–mad that I’ve had to raise my voice with Trotter resting so peacefully next to me. Several minutes later, the banging of the door resumes. I get up gingerly so as not to disturb Trotter and put a chair in front of the cabinet door to hold it closed. Back to the couch, I wiggle my way under the covers, grumbling about not finding “my spot” again. 

A short time later, cabinet doors are banging again. “Son of a gun! Will you guys quit?!?! I just got comfortable again!” I get up and add a 40 pound bag of kitty litter to the top of the chair. “That should do it!”, I confidently say to myself, thinking I have outsmarted them this time. Again, I grumble my way back into an even less cozy spot on the couch while simultaneously recognizing why they were behaving this way.

The other 3 cats were purposefully keeping me from falling asleep so that I wouldn’t miss this time with Trotter. They know what’s happening and I know they know what’s happening. I am grateful. I acknowledge their efforts, thank them, and they stop all further attempts at messing with the cabinet doors.

I spend the next few hours being fully present with Trotter, talking with him, thanking him for his love and for choosing to come into our lives. I send a prayer of thanks to my husband for being an animal lover and for taking in all the stray barn cats over the years–which is how Trotter came into our lives. I thank Trotter for being an amazing teacher, friend, and protector. The list goes on for some time. I have much to be thankful for. 

Around 2 am, I had a strong knowing that Trotter was getting ready to make his transition. I decided to give him the pain medicine, just in case—even though he hadn’t shown any signs of pain or discomfort. He tells me he doesn’t need it, but it makes me feel better so I do it anyway and he obliges me. We rest in the darkness, only a night light shining on Trotter so I can continue soaking in every little feature of his handsome face.  

Shortly after 4 am, Trotter lifts his head and lets out the tiniest meow. He’s letting me know it is time. 

I pick him up and place him on my chest, feeling his heart beating with my heart. I tell him again how much I love him and how grateful I am for his unconditional love. As the words leave my mouth, I feel his spirit lift from his body. His heart and lungs continue for another minute and then there is silence. I can’t even hear my own heart beating.

Gently and peacefully, Trotter crossed his rainbow bridge. 

This will be our last snuggle together in this physical life and I’m not ready for it to end. With Trotter still on my chest, cradled in my arms, I pull the blanket up over us and cry myself to sleep. 

It was about an hour later when my alarm to feed the horses startled me awake. I hit the snooze, allowing myself a few more conscious minutes to bury my nose in his fur. The alarm goes off again. I am not ready, but it is time. I placed Trotter on a pile of blankets and let the other cats know they can come say one last goodbye if they desired. Maggie came for a quick sniff but that was all.

They knew this was coming long before I knew, so a formal goodbye wasn’t necessary. It was very beautiful the way each of them had time with Trotter over the last couple of weeks where I actually witnessed an exchange of knowledge and energy between each one of them. 

My lessons with Mama are coming to an end here. I’ll keep working from the other side, but you’ll need to continue some lessons here. 

Babes: Be her constant companion and watch over her when she’s working outside. She likes the company. Mama is going to rely on you to be the leader now. 

Maggie: Love on her. Mama needs you to love on her and you’re the very best at this. Talk to her and be a good example of what it’s like to vocalize your needs.  

Bandit: You’re in charge of biscuit making now, and of reminding Mama how brave she is by showing her how brave you are getting. 

The instructions were given and an unspoken understanding communicated.

After taking care of the horses, I brought out a small wooden chest that belonged to my husband. I wrapped Trotter and placed him inside the chest with some of my husband’s ashes and some ashes from my dog, Mickey. I dug through a snow pile and some half-frozen ground to make space for his body to rest where I could connect with him each time I walked to and from the barn. I felt my husband’s spirit join me. I sat and we said a short prayer together. 

My 3 boys are together in spirit now. My heart is heavy, but knowing they are together makes it bearable. 

The time we had over the last several weeks was truly a blessing. Not only did Trotter continue working with me on one of our soul-level lessons right up until the end, but he gave me time to grieve as his spirit slipped away from his body so it wasn’t such a shock all at once. I got to hold my little man in my arms as he peacefully crossed over. No one could ask for more than that. 

I am full of gratitude for the trust Trotter put in me to allow me to participate in his graceful exit, fully aware that most pet parents don’t get to share in those final moments naturally. I did my best to honor Trotter’s wishes all along this journey, knowing part of honoring him was learning to take care of myself the same way I would take care of him—gently and compassionately. We shared many lessons in this life together, and he’s already giving me signs of how he is helping me from the other side. I am sad to see him go, but I know it is not the end. It is a new beginning for both of us.  

Thank you, my sweet little old man. I love you, forever.