letting go and learning about the perfection of life

Sweet Dreams (acrylic on old board)*

Sweet Dreams (acrylic on old board)*

A couple of weeks ago, we noticed that our cat Ben was seeming off. He wasn’t hungry and was sleeping more than usual. We’d contemplated taking him to the vet but he began to improve. Then one day last week, he ran out in front of a car and made an instant transition into the non-physical realm.

After I recovered from the shock of his sudden passing, a deep knowing came over me that this was his choice. It wouldn’t have been mine. I would’ve preferred to take him to the vet, find out what was wrong, then make decisions from there. As I thought about this, I could see that my desire to control so much, even believing that life and death were things I should have some sort of power over, was futile. Alan Watts once said, “Believing that we have control over life is like the little child sitting next to father in the car, holding onto our plastic steering wheel, thinking we are the ones driving the car.”

When I take my emotions out of the picture, I can see that Ben’s passing was perfect for him and helpful for me. It was a great lesson in letting go of my ideas of right and wrong, my ideas about how others should live and die. He’s also been showing up in my dreams almost every night, and in my dreams I always say, “Ben! you’re here!” and he looks at me like, “Yeah, of course I’m here. I never left.” So he continues to teach me about the perfection of life, even now.

As the years advance upon me, I see not only greatness but goodness, not only possibility but inevitability, in every little happening in the cosmos”. Sri Chinmoy

*this (and other!) paintings of mine are available for sale on MY ARTWORK page

32 thoughts on “letting go and learning about the perfection of life

  1. I’m so sorry about Ben. It is humbling how cats sometimes choose something so seemingly radical to teach us about life. It is my belief, too, that they continue to teach after they’ve passed on.

  2. h Mary, I’m in tears. That’s all I can say. What an experience you’ve had and what a revelation as well. We are not in control and why is it that we always feel we are?
    SandyP in Canada

  3. How wonderful that you and Ben shared your lives. As Jon Katz says, animals come when they are ready and leave when it is time…(even if it hurts a bit)

  4. Dear Mary, I will miss your photos and musings about Ben, but I also embrace his passing…especially in the way he chose it. Thank you for sharing not only this experience with him, but your strength in seeing it through the eyes of faith and wholeness. My thoughts are with you and I hope Ben continues to visit your dreams with his sweet messages of forever love.

  5. So very sorry Mary to hear about Ben’s passing and your loss. I’m sure the other cats at your home are missing him too. Enjoy the dreams of his visits to you, for me, they are treasured.
    Love, Marian

  6. I recall one of my favorite and most impactful learnings from you Mary. You taught me that I can not be the buffer between God and anyone else. That I can not impact/change/control the plans that God has for another. And it was important and meaningful for me to hear that from you again today through the choice that Ben made and your perspective of the impact his choice has on you. I am not surprised that sweet Ben is visiting you in your dreams…or that the painting that flowed from your spirit this week is titled Sweet Dreams. May Ben’s memory and his spirit always bring the warmest smile to your heart…xoxo

  7. I join everyone here, Mary, sending you a hug of condolence and friendship, with hopes that Ben continues to visit you in your dreams. You know he will, because he lives in your beautiful heart. Sweet dreams!

  8. I wish I had the words to tell you how sorry I am. My departed cats also visit my dreams and I always awaken with the memory of them as happy and whole creatures. It always hurts to lose one. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

  9. My heart hurts for you, Mary, even if this was Ben’s choice. Those left always have to deal with their moments of sadness. How beautiful he is coming to you in your dreams. Godspeed, Ben. My heartfelt love and condolences to you and Jack, Mary. And yet another lesson for all of us.

  10. So sorry Mary. Losing a beloved pet is so hard but Ben spared you a whole lot of anguish over how to deal with his end of life. When it happens so suddenly and unexpectedly it is a bigger shock and that can be awful. The truth is that cats are very clever and always, in my experience, know how to get what they want or need.

  11. I join with all in sending my love to you and to all of your family (human and non human). I could not remember a photo of Ben. If you have one, I’d love to see it. Want to send loving thoughts to Ben also.

  12. Our beagle tried to do this several years ago. We’d first discovered his back was bad, he was on medications and unknowing to us, developed an ulcer from it. It came to a head one cold and sleeting night when he went out and wouldn’t come back in. I had to dig him out from under the deck and leash him each time he went out after that into the fenced in yard. The next morning we took him to the vet. It took several days for him to get better and he’s been fine since. But I do think he was trying to end the pain that night.


  13. Good bye sweet Ben. I think they do choose how/when it’s time to transition. I was taking my dear Tootsie to the vet for the final time when I heard a soft and gentle sigh and knew that she had chosen to do it her way. How lovely that your boy visits your in your dreams and reassures you that he is gone only physically.

  14. Oh, Mary, I’m so sorry about Ben. I’m also humbled by everyone else’s posts and all I can say is that I’m not there yet. Although I never want to keep a pet alive for my sake when it’s clearly too hard for them to go on, I don’t think I could deal with the anguish of a sudden death like that. Okay, of course I could if I have to, but I don’t think I could see it as the pet’s choice. I have certainly felt the relief from the pets we’ve had euthanized when they showed us they were ready, but I’m not intuitive enough — or maybe emotionally mature enough — to respond to a sudden death like that. Clearly I still have much to learn. In any case, I’m glad Ben is in your dreams, Mary. It’s always so magical when our dogs from years past show up in my dreams. I feel like they are messengers.

  15. So sorry Mary for the loss of Ben. I’ve always felt that animals are wiser in the ways of the spirit than humans. One of the many reasons I love sharing my life with them. Hugs.

  16. Dearest Mary,

    Hugs and love to you and to Ben….
    Sweet dreams!

    “…..and we’ll meet now and then when we wish, in the midst of one celebration that never can end.”
    – ” There’s No Such Place As Far Away ” Richard Bach

  17. Thank you for sharing your story about Ben. I am deeply sorry for your loss but most appreciative that Ben was a ‘Take charge,’ very good boy that shall live forever in your heart. (And no doubt plans to visit frequently until he returns to this physical plane!)

    Dear Ben: Enjoy your journey; go in peace and love.

  18. So difficult to lose those pets who are our dear companions. Ben now rests in your memory, your heart , your dreams, where he will continue to bring a smile to your eyes .. Thank you for sharing with us how you dealt with this sudden event . In the face of such a wrenching thing as death , oh how I can relate to your thoughts that would’ve liked to control the outcome. But of course we have to acknowledge that we are not able to do that, and leave it to the powers that be to effect the inevitable. Good boy Ben…for visiting Mary’s dreams, what a good kitty .

  19. Mary, I’m so sorry about Ben. I thought I had posted last night, but I don’t see it here. Anyway, I admire you for your acceptance.of this. I think I have a way to go on that one. I’m glad that Ben is in your dreams – that is so comforting.

  20. Our animals teach us every day. Blessings to you and Jack. I hope Ben remains a frequent visitor in your dreams.

  21. This post was very thought provoking for me. I struggle mightily when it comes to animals and the whens and the hows and my acute desire to spare them suffering and to take care of them. They do, however, often seem to take care of us, don’t they? I am sorry for your loss.

  22. Dearest Mary, I know that Ben is on the other side, Heaven now and he is once again young and playful and having an amazing time and some day you will see him there. Also I know cats are alot smarter then we know and he knew he didn’t want to suffer here. I think your dreams are letting you know that he is okay. Unfortunately we are the ones that miss people and pets when they leave us and pass through. So for that I am sorry that you are missing him! Much love and blessings to you at this time. Joan

  23. Dear Mary,
    I just reread this post again as I have been for several days now. We put our 3-legged rescue cat Sunny to rest this morning. He was only with us 7 short years but developed renal failure. We did manage his end of life with medicine and special food that was successful for 2 years. He was the cat who made me a better person because he never saw himself as dis-abled. He lived a full life playing and spending hours in my lap and left this earth looking at me with love. There are situations when we can “control” the course of the end of life as you know. I am looking forward to seeing him in my dreams, my golden boy. Thanks for listening. (I am looking at HOME now and feel so much better with your work in front of me).

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