Holding Vigil

In late September we found ourselves holding vigil for Claire—our Westie. An integral part of our family for almost 15 years, she was affectionately known as “The House Elf.” Trust me when I say she put the “perk” in perky!

And while the death of a companion animal might be a non-event to some, her absence took the stuffing not only out of Len and I, but Lexi and Willa as well. Slowly but surely we’ve gotten back onto an even keel, but we sure do miss our little gal. 

Rabindranath Tagore was Asia’s first Nobel laureate by winning the 1913 Nobel Prize in Literature. One of the writings that he’s best known for is, “Death is not extinguishing the light; it is putting out the lamp because dawn has come.”

When was the last time you held vigil for a loved one?

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
                — Laurie Buchanan

www.HolEssence.com and our Facebook page

© 2011 Laurie Buchanan – All Rights Reserved

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

“Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
 — Laurie Buchanan

www.HolEssence.com and our Facebook page

© 2011 Laurie Buchanan – All Rights Reserved

36 thoughts on “Holding Vigil

  1. Hi Laurie,

    Love and light to you and Len, Lexi and Willa. We lost Simba (14 yrs.) this summer while I was on the island. He was diagnosed and had only weeks left to live. I was only able to Skype to see my treasured best friend before my family took care of him in his final hours. Nala has come around and the healing process continues as we celebrate his life. He continues to be an angel in the house, with the most noticeable event last week. Nala was chased by a German Shepherd up to our door before letting out her final scream for help. The Shepherd froze in his tracks and never touched her to our amazement. We still can not explain what happened since he is known for his aggressive behavior and was clearly out for blood. And yet, we can. Thank you Simba!

    • Lisa – I’m sorry you lost Simba, especially while you were away. But I oh-so-love the story you shared about Nala and the German Shepherd. Yes indeed – thank you Simba!

  2. Oh, dear Laurie, I am so sorry that you lost your dear one. How you must be grieving the beloved presence of your girl. My heart sits vigil with you right now…

  3. Laurie I am sorry to hear of your loss and even though at 15 it can be expect that Claire would be “putting out the lamp because dawn has come” it makes no difference to our sense of loss.

    The last time I breathed that breath of release for someone was this week when my neighbour told me that her father had died. She doesn’t live here full-time and is mostly in the city where she cares for her parents and her granddaughter with all of the family sharing one large divided house. Her tiny place here is her retreat and respite.

    She told me “he was 97 you know. To be expect. We knew it could be anytime at that age but somehow thought he had lived this long why not to a 100 or 105.”

    Her loss, like yours loss of Claire reminds me that we are seldom ready to let go of a loved one – animal or human.

    I have a short poem that seems most fitting in a tribute to Claire…


    Soft light creeps into my sleep.
    I find trees silhouetted against my
    When dawn comes,
    I’ll be reaching over her shoulder
    plucking the first light.

    Warm hugs to you both!

    • Terrill – “First Light” is absolutely lovely. You’ve single-handedly managed to make me cry — HAPPY TEARS — two days in a row. Thank you, dear friend, from the bottom of my heart.

  4. Oh, Laurie, I’m so sorry to her about Claire.
    In August, I had to say good-bye to a good friend–Sam, my oldest male cat. He had such spirit–a true sense of fun–and was a kind-hearted gentleman. He is sorely missed but I will take the affection we had for one another and give it to other animals in need.
    Thank you for sharing your story and the lovely photo of Claire, Laurie.

  5. Tagore captures life and loss with such eloquence. And Claire, what a sweetheart. I’m so sorry, Laurie, about your westie. I just go with the theory that love is timeless … even when it comes to the pets that have graced our lives with joy and faith. Blessings to all of you. Change is never something we get used to and loss feels alien to most of us. And so the deeper mysteries call out to us. With heart, Daisy

  6. I am saddened by your loss and Zip and I send our best thoughts your way – Westies do put the perk in perky and delight us with all that energy…

    Zip and I went walking as the sun was just coming up over the cascades and burning off the marine air…..I was thinking about how to put the positive words to a very negative book I am reviewing….after reading your words here, I thought I can be thankful about being finished with the book and that I have lovely memoirs of a grandmother and then a mother to read next….the dawning of something that lifts people up ( maybe lifts Westies up too?)

    I took care of my mother 24/7 for three years after she fractured her spine….We lost our 14 year old Juba, Schipperky the week before she moved in and our 13 years old Toby, Schipperky 3 months after she died at age 94. Part of my vigil was to teach them all about letting go and release. I think I am still recovering from that exhaustive life experience.

    All loss changes us

  7. Oh, Laurie, I am so sorry to hear about Claire. Knowing she will be with you as long as you need her, touching your hearts with her unconditional love.

  8. Ken and. I are so sorry for your loss. We lost Molly, one of our twin cats, last year. Her sister cries for her everyday. We give her extra attention and cuddles but it’s just not the same. Our lovely companions give us so much joy.
    We share your pain.

    • Sylvia & Ken – I remember meeting both of your darling girls — Molly and Dolly. I’m sorry to know that you lost Molly. Our companion animals do, indeed, give us so much joy with their unconditional love. Thank you for popping in today.

  9. This article is about a period of intentional sleeplessness. For all other usages, see Vigil (disambiguation).

    Vigil, tacuinum sanitatis casanatensis (14th century)

    I am so sorry to hear this, bless little heart .

    I am holding vigil for my mom, Joey and Oreoz…..

    A vigil (from the Latin vigilia, meaning wakefulness) is a period of purposeful sleeplessness, an occasion for devotional watching, or an generalized in this sense and means “eve” (as in on the eve of the war).

  10. Such a sweet goodbye to a treasured friend. Laurie, you know how I felt when my Magic cat died. I still miss her and have these wonderful memories of her curling up on my chest when I took a nap or on my lap under the keyboard when I worked. She taught me such valuable lessons, not the least of which is to appreciate who and what I have in the moment for tomorrow, it may be gone.

  11. I can’t even pretend to know how you feel Laurie. I do remember loosing my first cat Cuddles at the age of 8 – it was devastating. Bless the furry ones, they provide us with so much that we as humans have yet to learn.

  12. Hi Laurie

    Sorry to read about Claire.
    I know Westies well, my sister Pauline used to breed and show them, and while the kennels were officially at the back of the section, there were usually at least a couple of them in the house most of the time.

    It’s always sad when a loved pet dies.
    I think the one that most affected me (strangely enough) was the loss of my albino ferret. That critter used to go everywhere with me, and was usually curled up around my neck like a scarf. Used to freak people out when the scarf lifted it’s head and looked at them.

    Taking him walking down the main street of local cities on a string was always good for a stare or two also.

    Hold an image of Claire lightly in my mind – and wishing both you and Len happy memories of cherished companion.

    • Ted – I absolutely love the story of your albino ferret. I can just see someone jumping back in alarm when your “scarf” lifted it’s head at looked them in the eye! Thank you for the morning laugh 🙂

  13. Oh Laurie, you brought some tears to my eyes this morning with this sad but beautiful post. Lucille and I could well understand how much you and Len miss your beloved Westie. We know teh feeling only too well, as we lost several animals over the years, including our 15 year-old black cat Iago, which according my animal loving wife was the most affectionate feline you has ever owned by quite a distance.

    We’ve lost rabbits, and other cats, and know that we’ll be holding vigil down the road for our two labs and pug, all of which are slowly getting on.

    It’s a miserable, rainy day in the Northeast, so in one sense this post seems appropriate for today’s read.

    My condolences to you both.

    • Sam – We’ve got rain here today, too. A good day for reflection. Your cat lago, sonds to have been one in a million. Hopefully your labs and pug have lots of healthy years in front of the yet. Their life-spans are so short compared to most of ours — and it seems to go by so quickly. Our Lexi is 8 and Willa is only 3 — we’ve got a good while left with those two. And with Willa being so big (Irish Wolfhound), I just started giving her Glucosamine (for dogs) to help support joint and hip health (they’re subject to hip issues). We want her to be able to frolic with the best of ’em for as long as possible 🙂

  14. Laurie, I have always loved viewing the photos you posted of your “girls”, Lexie, Willa and wee Claire. I have to admit I enjoyed seeing Claire the most…what was not to love about that pixie face and the brave stance she held with her two much larger companions? Now that she is free again to be her spirited self, I can imagine her leaping after butterflies and exploring with a curious nose anything that catches her fancy. I have lost a dear friend and teacher this week, he’ll be gardening with body that is eternally strong and able. I am rejoicing for him, he too, is free at last.

    • Sandi – Thank you so much for those comforting words — they’re just like a healing balm. And I’m so sorry for the loss of your friend this week. You’ve spoken of him before and I know he will be missed.

  15. Claire does look like a perky little elf! ♥ Warm *hugs* and heartfelt sympathy for you, Laurie, and Len, Lexi and Willa.

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