Our Beloved Sterling

Hello Friends & Family,

I am sitting at my desk, staring out the window at the sky. I have to write this letter to you because I just can’t face the phone calls today…

Vulture just flew over head, and I know that he is heading to the forest where our family laid to rest our beloved Sterling, yesterday. My heart breaks a little more as I send my gratitude and prayers to this graceful Spirit-bird, come to carry our beloved across the veil.

It’s been a long few days.

Sterling turned 11 this July. He’s always been such a healthy, happy guy. Even at his age, he still hiked with us everywhere, and hopped in and out of the van like a puppy. All you had to do was say “walk”, and he was all over it. This past weekend, he became suddenly ill, and in his own special way, he told us unequivocally, that it was his time to die.

Tuesday morning, in the wee hours between midnight & dawn, my beautiful boy asked me to come with him into the night. He shuffled slowly, but with great determination – down the drive and out to the street. He pulled me silently along the path of one of our favourite walks, showing me memories of our time together, his love for our family, his gratitude for our gift of little Hyacinth earlier this year – a reminder of his youth, and a protege he could pass his knowledge to, to watch over us when he was gone. Under the stars, he walked with me, strong and silent at my side. His remembering was so clear, and this was his gift – to himself and to me – this final walk, just the two of us as we’ve always been, together.

Reaching the edge of the woods at the base of the mountain, he stepped in front of me, placing his body between me and the mountain, and pointing his head to send me firmly home. His intention was clear. He was saying goodbye. He was heading off into the mountains to die.

I stood with him there, for a long, long time – my knowing at war with my fear. He showed me so many things. He showed me how animals know to move away from their homes and families to die, so that their sickness and remains won’t contaminate water, soil and dens. He showed me his ancestry, and the ways that his kind communicate teachings and knowledge through movement, and thought, and energy, and smell. He showed me the true form of his Spirit – shifting in and out of this world as he drew closer to his passing. He showed me that animals die in solitude on purpose – that the long walk hastens their death, that they leave traces of their teachings in the stardust that falls along their path, that they choose their final resting place in alignment with the stars, that they lie down on the earth, and breathe in the sky, and reach out to Great Spirit to receive the gift of peace in the stillness and silence of being at one with themselves. He showed me so many, many things…

I stood there with him, at the edge of the worlds, knowing that all of this was true. I stood there with him, at the edge of the worlds, witnessing a reality so profound it defies description. I stood there with him, at the edge of the worlds, seeing the terrible truth of how far we humans have distanced ourselves from all that is sacred in nature. I stood there with him, at the edge of the worlds, immersed in the beauty, and strength and