Wednesday, November 9, 2011


TAKING FLIGHT? The Tuesday morning before we left for the pet crematorium, Paws, Whiskers & Wags, I did my ritual morning drawing. Wanting to summon a transition in the way I was thinking about my separation with Misha, I imagined him with “angel” wings, taking flight and being supervised by the masculine part of my psyche, Wandjina. I have abstracted my Hallelujah  Truth self even more. You can only see my hand and the top of my head. Boo hoo….I did not experience a “shift” in a way of thinking.
For us saying good-bye on Saturday to our feline companion Misha did not end with the visit to the vet clinic and watching the veterinarian inject him with what would cause his immediate death. I had decided that I wanted Misha cremated and that was to take place three days later on a Tuesday morning, almost three miles east of Decatur on Ponce de Leon at Paws, Whiskers & Wags: Your Pet Crematory.

I had awakened the Monday morning after Misha’s death with an unnerving dream of his returning to me and Chiboogamoo. Because of the cool fall morning, he was doing the customary snuggling under our covers with us. At first, I was delighted. Then I discovered that my dream Misha was still in pain, his tumor even larger, but he could not leave us. I felt the agony all over again of needing to help him die.  I woke up. The hour was early—before 5:00 am. I drew another picture of Misha and me. Four hours later,  Paws, Whiskers & Wags called me to arrange Misha’s cremation.
ASHES to ASHES. Anticipating Misha’s cremation, I began by drawing him in black, grays, and browns. Still feeling very connected, I draw my Hallelujah Truth-self next to him, our eyes aligned, seeing the world together, but now from two different perspectives (death and life). Our background is brown, expressing the end of a growing cycle. The leaves of my flower diadem are also brown. There is a DEAD FINISH to Misha’s life.

 I found out I had crematorium options! I could see Misha one more time! He had not already become ASHES! Hallelujah! He was not only a phantom in my dreams nor only an image in my drawings, but Misha was also still inhabiting this earth in his physical body. The Paws, Whiskers & Wags employee assured me that it would not be too awful to see him one more time. This announcement lead to my learning more about the process of having one’s pet cremated.

After we left Misha at Village Vets, he was tagged with a tracking device so that he could be located if the need arose. I also learned that he had been refrigerated and still looked as good as he did at his death. Waiting in the mourning room of Paws, Whiskers & Wags, Chiboogamoo and I received a comforting announcement from the pet crematorium employee.  “Misha’s a beautiful animal,” she exclaimed  as she wheeled him in where we were waiting to see him one last time. Indeed, Misha looked at peace. His eyes were now shut, and his body had been carefully shaped into a restful sleep position with his paws  tucked gently towards his chest and his head ever so slightly curved in. He WAS beautiful!

Chiboogamoo and I were given time to spend with him before we followed him into the crematorium room. The man who was about to cremate Misha, came forward and hugged us! Oh! Our grief was so honored and respected. The top was put on the cardboard box that entombed Misha’s body. Then the steel table was moved to the front of the burning chamber and slid in. We watched as the bottom of Misha’s cardboard box burst into flames. The steel door slowly closed down from the top like the curtain coming down in a theatre.  It was the end of the wonderful life performance of dear, dear Misha. His cremation would take an hour.

I wrote most of this blog entry as Chiboogamoo and I waited in the crematory’s mourning room. We held hands and expressed the newfound peace we had acquired by participating in Misha’s cremation. We felt closure. Relief comes from knowing where Misha is. I took him home in a cedar box, and his ashes are in front of me as I finish this blog entry.

ROSE PETALS AND ASHES. We let Misha (now ashes in the cedar box) stay out in the courtyard all day underneath rose petals, a gift from fellow feline worshipper Jacq Marie. Incense and candles honor his spirit.

Cremation isn’t cheap—costing over 150 dollars. I feel slightly guilty about spending money on a deceased pet when there are so many living animals that need food and shelter. Yet as a condo dweller without a yard to bury our beloved feline, I could not bear for him to disappear entirely from my surroundings. I am thankful that such a humane business as Paws, Whiskers & Wags exists to comfort human sorrow over the loss of an animal companion. Perhaps having gone through this experience with Misha will give us courage to take on a new family feline in the future, knowing that the end can be made bearable.

Hallelujah Friends, Family, and Felines! When the bell tolls for thee….may you be loved and helped along to the next dimension as we were with Misha. That’s Coffee With Hallelujah! SOUL BLOG with me about how you said good-bye to your beloved feline family member.
FIRE, REBIRTH, DREAMS. Dear Pilgrims, I accept my dreams and integrate them with my daily drawings. Last night, I dreamed I was on a journey with Chiboogamoo. We were leading his students from Environmental Studies on a field trip. We came to a dip in a dirt path. I went first and on my way, I saw a snake spiraling down into the steep turn of the pathway. As I moved forward, a second snake was moving toward me. Chiboogamoo and the students had stopped to examine something above me. I was alone on the deep spiraling path with the snakes. The dream ended. This morning I welcomed the snakes into my drawing. I drew Misha again in a spiral. This time the spiral is the color of the flames that I saw engulfing Misha’s cardboard box at the crematorium, and not purple, the color of mourning. Pilgrims! I have worked with snakes before in my dreams and they symbolize for me such ideas as FERTILITY, REBIRTH, and INFINITY. Seeing the transition of Misha’s body into ashes, I now feel open to breathe. Breathing ensures LIFE. I am here now, with my feelings and the remains of Misha. I believe ART HEALSART MOVES US FORWARD. I believe DREAMS give us a way to integrate and to become whole. I believe FIRE PURIFIES. I will keep breathing, making art, and dreaming. Cheers to my dear Misha!


  1. Cheers indeed to Misha and to you, Ruth. Misha loved you. His spirit is flying high.

  2. Dear Sherry...I am only beginning to understand the "sense" of what is meant by a "good" death. Misha lived a long and merry life. He was supremely adored. We did not want him to go. We did not want to say good-bye. Finally, we had to suffer so he would not. We made his death as good as death can get...Thanks for understanding.

  3. I'm so sorry to hear the death of your lovely cat. I have a dog in my country, and he's 8 years old. He's a special dog that is only friendly when he's bored. Whenever I look some of my old photos, I feel my dog already spent his half of life with me. And it makes me terrified that someday I have to say goodbye to him.. Of course I'm not ready to say it, and I'm pretty sure that I won't be ready until his tiny breath disappear in the world. I hope your Misha would be in peaceful heaven.. <3

  4. I'm sorry to say good bye to Misha. I know how much hard it is. I lost my dog this year January. She was 14years old. Sad thing is I couldn't say good bye to her because I came here before she died. I still cry when I say something about her, but old death is not only sad happening. Misha and my dog should have lived happy life. I'm sure.

  5. Dear UPRIGHT! I am so appreciative of your sharing the loss of your dog with me. I am sorry that you were not at home when she died...that is a student's life...your parents had to help your family dog leave this life. You are right our family pets had very happy lives!

  6. 3 cats gone in 7 years. I couldn't bear to see them after they had been put to sleep. But for you, watching the process of body to ashes to being lovingly placed in a tiny cedar box strewn with rose petals must have provided solace.
    Misha was a beautiful name for a handsome feline. Love all of your drawings, especially of the black and white Misha :)

  7. DEAR MISS SHIPP! I'm sorry about the losses of your kitties in such a short span of time. You knew Misha well! Thank you for remembering Misha with me!

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