We seem to spend a good deal of time desiring and applying ways to live a good life. We don’t often give thought to experiencing a good death. A few weeks ago I was gifted my very first encounter of witnessing death and I must tell you, that it was beautiful.
This time last year your Father came home from a camping trip with a baby Kangaroo. He has had experience hand rearing Kangaroos in the past and it seemed that each time he had a new human baby, he managed to end up with an orphaned joey soon after. He handed me a reusable supermarket shopping bag, which was her makeshift pouch. Two shiny little eyes blinked up at me from underneath one of his flannelette shirts. It was love at first sight.
I spent many early mornings that winter heating two bottles of formula. Sometimes I juggled feeding two babies at once, depending on how hungry you both were.
I named her Ruby, Ruby Roo, and she was a much loved part of our family. As she grew she spent more and more time out of her pouch. Trying to get her accustomed to the normal life of a Kangaroo, we would put her outside in the back yard each morning so she would begin to eat grass and drink water. However she quickly discovered the doggy door and it became common for Ruby to appear in the kitchen where like you, she enjoyed inspecting the bins.
She was completely independent of her pouch when we moved to the farm a few months ago, so she happily relived her days as a tiny joey when your Dad put her into a large hessian sack to transport her to our new home. She loved the wide open spaces and while occasionally she could be seen hopping around in one of the paddocks, she mostly stayed close to the house.
I discovered some amazing wild rose bushes alongside the long driveway and Ruby would often keep me company while I pruned them beneath a sunny autumn sky. You loved the tree lined walk to the letterbox and Ruby would bounce along with us to check for mail.
Perhaps to Ruby you were another kangaroo and just like brother and sister, I would be called upon to sort out your tiffs. You would pull her tail and she would box your chest with her claws. However I did wonder if Ruby thought she was a chicken! She was usually found in their company as they scratched around the yard or had a rest underneath the bushes in the front yard.
One morning we discovered her lying in the sun along the side of the house. She lifted her head only to put it back down again. She flinched when you approached her but she didn’t get up which I thought was very unusual. I could see that she was not well. Your Dad and I coaxed her up to have some water and she moved around lethargically, smelling the grass. We assumed she must have eaten something that did not agree with her and that it would probably pass through her system.
She was not quite herself over the next few days. However she was regularly grazing on the lawn and I took that to be a promising sign of her improving health. It was lunchtime on a Wednesday and I realised I had not seen her all morning. When I mentioned this to your Dad he said he had done a lap of the house yard earlier but couldn’t find her. My heart sank but I hoped for the best and pictured her resting under a tree in one of paddocks, sure she would return that evening.
It was late afternoon when I decided to take you with me for a walk to see if we could find her. My hope that she was fine had been replaced by the desire to find her so she didn’t spend a night out in the cold. As we walked past the cattle yard the western sky was brushed with pinks and oranges. It was then I noticed her little frame lying on the ground near the storage shed. My tears started as I walked towards her. I knelt down and saw that her chest was rising and falling. She was frail and very ill but she was still alive.
You watched me with great fascination as I cried all the way back to the house to tell your Father. He carried her into our garage and made her comfortable on an old lambskin, which she had slept on in her pouch as a joey. I covered her with a blanket to keep her warm.
Just as she had shared her life with ours, I realised that I had an amazing opportunity to bear witness to her death. As I sat beside her I was so aware of the joy she had brought to our family. I gently placed my hand on her and could feel her heart beating. I literally felt her life force and marvelled at how lovely she was to look at. Her pulse cycled from weak to strong and back again. Several times I thought she was going to die but she would take a big breath and her heartbeat would resume vigorously.
An hour or more passed. As the darkness descended outside the fluorescent light in the shed became brighter. The air felt heavy and frosty but my hand was warm against her fur.
In the final stage, after being still for so long, Ruby began moving her head forward slowly. She lifted her paws as she used to when she would come to me for a scratch. Then her head tilted back as though she was looking up even though her eyes were non responsive. I was reminded of a book I had read by David Kessler called “Visions, Trips and Crowded Rooms” about experiences of the dying. Was Ruby experiencing her own vision of what was to come as she left her physical body and hopped into the afterlife?
As her heartbeat finally faded away beneath my hand, I felt deeply humbled.
Seamus, a gorgeous little Kangaroo gave me such a special gift. With her passing she took with her any lingering fears I had of dying. In her wake she left me marvelling at the grace and peacefulness of her departure. She set me free.
The fear of death and dying is a veil obstructing the truth. Death is merely a transition. Release your fears. There is only life. Always and ever more.
“There is no “death.” Life goes on forever and ever. Life is. You simply change form”- Conversations with God: Book 2