It happened yesterday. I found him bloated with his eyes closed and his tongue sticking out but still alive. Deep inside I knew that he was dying and that he was not going to make it to the vet. Medical care at this point was futile. So I took him in my arms and tried to give him comfort. At one point I thought that he was gone but suddenly his lungs inflated and gasped for air as if responding to my voice calling his name. I would like to think of this as his last goodbye. He always responded to my voice and leaped into my arms... but alas that is not going to happen anymore .
I am distraught! I have lost my ability to cry but I can feel myself engulfed by sadness and a deep feeling of loss.
This is going to sound extremely stupid to most people. For it seems that humans have crafted a hierarchy of living organisms: some animals are important while others are not. Humans place a lot more value on dogs, cats, horses, monkeys and dolphins than on other species that are perceived as less cute or sentient... so go ahead and laugh at me if you want. But my feelings are sincere.
My Leon was a chameleon (panther), a cold blooded reptile. Most people would scoff and laugh at the idea of reptiles being able to form bonds with humans... but let me tell you this one did. I got him during a dark time in my life... just a few months after I was released from the psychiatric ward. I was still under heavy medication and feeling slow. Too slow in fact. I needed things to slow down. Leon moved at the same pace as me. He observed his environment and moved cautiously just like me. He didn't talk or make sounds, but chameleons change colors to reflect their emotions and mood (not to blend in with the environment as commonly believed). And in a way that is how I express my feelings. I don't express my inward thoughts verbally, but my feelings come out in more subtle ways that are quite apparent to those who observe. As egocentric and selfish as it may sound, I saw myself reflected in Leon. I don't think that this would been possible with a dog or a cat. Maybe I am cold blooded...who knows?
Leon helped me through a very dark time in my life, and God knows that I've still had plenty of problems ever since, but Leon was there to accompany me. And thanks to him I gained a sense of structure that I was seriously lacking. But most importantly I grew as a person and learned to appreciate "little things" that in other times I would have dismissed as trivial and unimportant.
So thank you Leon for all these years that we shared together! May you rest in peace.