Last weekend we lost a good friend and companion. Sky, our family cat passed away. People's pets and companions pass, that is part of life and you no doubt have experienced this in your life. But, there is a story here that I want to tell that relates to life and business - and if you stick with me for this article, I think it will make a difference for you.
Sky was important in a lot of ways. Shortly after meeting the amazing woman who would one day become my wife, he showed up one evening on my back porch as we were both hanging out. He was a stray. She immediately, without hesitation, opened her heart and began to take take care of him, give him food, look him over and reached out to a vet to have him looked at, etc. It was in watching her selflessness and her caring ways that I truly fell in love with her and knew she was the one.
Fast forward many years, we are married and arrive home from China with our daughter. By this time, we have managed to acquire a couple more cats or "jokers" as I like to call them (yes, I know they say once you hit 3, you are borderline crazy), but Sky was always the one that was warm, inviting, greeting you at the door, friendly with everyone. We used to joke that we could be getting robbed and he would be purring and rubbing up against the legs of the thieves as they stole our stuff. Sky was always there and happy. This made a huge difference in bringing our daughter home and starting her new life. While the other cats ran and hid from her, Sky immediately took to her. They became fast friends and I believe it really helped her come out of her shell and acclimate faster.
Last summer, Sky, now 13, started to have trouble. He started to lose a lot of weight, became sickly, and even started to become less friendly all in just a few weeks. We noticed immediately and took him into the vet. We did not expect to hear what we did. Just months earlier, he had been the same thriving, energetic self he had always been. The vet told us that his kidneys had basically failed out, he now had diabetes and possibly cancer, and that he most likely had a month to live. He even discussed euthanasia with us.
As you can probably guess, this wasn't an option for my wife. She asked "How?" How can we help him live longer? How can we help him get healthier? The vet gave us some thoughts which included a daily insulin regiment, daily fluid injections (think dialysis), and a few others things. My wife immediately went to a vet supply center and got what she needed. She spent evenings online researching cats and reading up on similar situations and what could be done. She went about it methodically, like a business leader. Find the problem, research the solution, put an action plan in place, execute.
Of course, I am observing all of this, helping where I can. But, this was her baby. and she was not going to be deterred. My daughter became her sidekick and every evening it became bath and fluids time. Bath for the munchkin while her buddy got the fluids that kept him alive. It worked. He became healthier, more vibrant, and even the vet was "amazed" at how well he was and what had happened with him in the most recent checkup.
This went on until this past weekend when Sky finally succumbed. I'll never forget it because I was the only one home. My wife and daughter were out having a mommy/daughter day and I had settled in to get some much needed work done on a new project. Just as I was about the throw my headphones on, I heard a noise from right outside my office and I knew it wasn't right. I walked over to Sky's bed and there he was. He had just suffered a major seizure and he was immobile. Except his eyes. I peered right into them and he peered into mine. He knew and I knew what was happening. And in that moment, I could see that he was ready. I'll never forget it, because after that look, I could see the life start to fade from his eyes. I got my wife on the phone and she was able to get home in time to see him and take him to the vet. It was all over in about an hour. He didn't suffer much and he wasn't in pain (according to the vet). He had lived a good life and had been a source of joy for us, a bridge for our daughter to connect to her new life, and a great companion.
What compelled me to tell this story, as I reflected on it after the weekend, were the lessons I learned from it.
First, love is extremely powerful The love for another can accomplish miracles and give purpose to your life. Sky should have never been alive this long. If it wasn't for my wife's love and determination to help him live, he would have been gone last year. Love coupled with true belief in a purpose can change lives. It has even changed the world. Don't shy away from what you love. Embrace it with everything in your heart and everything you've got.
Second, life is precious. Yes, it is cliche, but life is precious. We only have so much time and every minute is important. Watching life literally die out of Sky's eyes put this into perspective for me like never before. We only have one life to live and we need to make the absolute most out of it. Go after your goals and dreams. Find your true passion. Give it everything you've got. Leave no regrets and savor every experience, so that one day when it is your time, you'll know you left nothing on the table. Sky was ready. He knew he lived well, was loved, gave love back, and had no regrets. I saw it in his eyes.
Lastly, determination and "will" make a huge difference. You know the feeling. The feeling that bubbles up inside of you when you will not let anything get in your way. When you literally are "willing" something to happen and know that it will - because you won't stop until it does. We see it in great moments in sports, business, and in life. Over the last year, I got to witness it every day as we all "willed" our buddy to live and did everything possible to make it a reality. What will you harness your will for? What will you be so committed to that you will not stop, because you cannot stop until it becomes your reality?
Whatever it is, I urge you to go for it. Use your love and passion to guide you and live life how you know you should live it - don't leave anything on the table.