By Dr Tamsin T. Price BVSc CCRP
“How beautifully leaves grow old. How full of light and colour are their last days.” John Burroughs.
I met this aged gentleman in his autumn, April 2016. A weathered soul who’s bones ached like the brittle bark of whispering trees. A rich spirit trapped in a failing body. Max had had his days in summer’s sunshine running and playing with vigor and elation but as all things pass so too had his youth. He had come of season and now faced his final curtain call. Autumn paints in colours that summer has never seen and Max poised his paintbrush bravely and with grace.
Max’s guardian, a greying nobleman himself, met my gaze with despair. His faithful companion facing the decay of age with supposedly mere weeks remaining. With a chill of reality it struck me that I was now the promise of summer, the ray of auburn light to keep winter at bay. It was my season to be the sun and I would do so as long as possible.
Those initial shadowed moments turned into sunny days and glorious weeks spent together as we grew as patient and healer. Our weekly reunions not only served to soothe Max but provided sanctuary for me. Time at peace with this gentle soul painting pictures of warmth and hope one brush stroke at a time.
We faced each day of our evanescent state as it came; days of thunderous defeat and joyous revelation. We faced it together.
“and all at once, summer collapsed into fall.” Oscar Wilde
Although we were now in the spring of 2016, a bitter sweet November, our days grew shorter, a nip in the air. I faced this season of rebirth with a heavy heart of devastation, Max with a calm air of harmony. It was time.
Max’s merciful release set him free from the crumbling frame that remained in my arms. A world of autumnal colour now turned monochrome. His passing was of dignity and honour and as salted tears trickled down my cheeks I knew he was home.