vigil \ ‘vi-jƏl \ n. wakefulness; watchfulness; a night of spiritual preparation
Coyote woke us the other night, crying in her sleep. Bodhi stared intently at her, beaming love from his place on the rug. I spoke soothingly, letting her know we were near, watching over her. She started awake at my voice, dazed, and met my gaze. Unable to hold her head up longer than those few seconds, she flopped back over onto her side and slept.
Later, around 4:00 a.m., I woke again to her crying. This time, she’d struggled from her bed, disoriented, and had nosed herself into a corner of the room. She couldn’t turn to free herself, relying on the wall at her side to keep her upright. Her rear claws scrabbled desperately on the wood floor, pushing her farther into the wall ahead of her, and she cried out in her panic. I turned her around and guided her outside, where she immediately squatted to relieve herself. She stood shaking under the stars before moving one, painstaking step at a time toward the gate, where she’s always loved to stand and look at the world.
I crouched near the door, giving her space but letting her know I hadn’t left her alone. The night was cool as I kept my vigil. It’s almost time, I thought. I anchored myself in the moment, burning it into my memory. I was strangely awake for such an early hour.
When she’d drunk her fill of the view and the breeze, Coyote managed a clumsy turn, and we were suspended there, facing each other in the moonlight, our connection humming between us. I breathed in slowly, waiting for her to signal what she needed next. In answer, she tottered toward me: One. Two. Three halting steps at a time, pausing for long seconds between each small progress, panting and holding the lifeline of my eyes with hers. If I tried to rise to help her, she turned her head in clear refusal. So I honored her dignity and stayed in my crouch, my hand silently outstretched to her, recalling our beginnings, when she crawled across the floor toward that same open hand — terrified then, her new life with me uncertain.
Her life is certain now. We know the direction, and there is no turning back. The days — the hours — are numbered, so very finite.
We have only to wait. Watch. Prepare.