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In Loving Memory of Sasha: The End of a BrightHaven Era

The past beats inside me like a second heart.
—John Banville
BrightHaven President and Founder Gail Pope shares warmhearted tribute to Sasha:
November 19, 2022, is a date I will remember with mixed feelings as it marked not only the death of our beloved Sasha, but also the end of a BrightHaven era. You see, Sasha was the last of the sanctuary cats to die, leaving us with not only the memory of her own sweet self, but also so many wonderful memories of those38years spent living with, loving and caring for the hundreds of animals, birds and even toads who shared our lives and their deaths.
Sasha arrived at BrightHaven in 2010 when she was approximately two years old. While trying to protect her kittens, Sasha had suffered a severe dog bite which broke her spine, leaving her paraplegic – unable to stand and walk, let alone urinate or defecate on her own. Her one remaining kitten had been adopted and, somewhat angry and with a distinct air of defeat upon arrival, Sasha very gradually settled into her new home and life, showing us her sunny as well as sometimes her fearful side as she reached out to snap if a threat was perceived.
Gail & Richard Pope with Sasha (cat) & Lily
As the years passed, Sasha became a well-known but a somewhat quiet and reserved figure in daily life – often overshadowed by Talya, her strong and very feisty paraplegic sister of sorts. They looked identical but there the resemblance faded as Sasha’s sweet personality began to shine.
Somewhere along the way her delightful mixture of sweetness and timidity stole into my heart and tossed away the key. Over the years my Sashie experienced many high fevers related to bladder issues well known to those who scoot on their bottoms. She also became very well used to my helping her with her toiletry needs and in recent years would come to me for assistance when severe neurological tremors radiating through her lower body would alert her of the need to pass stool.
Sasha joined with the many other BrightHaven paraplegic or otherwise dis-abled animals to teach us silly humans not to shy away or offer sympathy, but to see and understand that although she may have suffered a broken back, her spirit remained strong and vibrant, and life was always good. Sasha could scoot easily and quickly and also climb to a couch when she so desired… In fact, there really was nothing she could not really do if she set her mind to it.
Goodbyes are only for those who love with their eyes. Because for those who love with their heart and soul, there is no such thing as separation. —Rumi 
During Sasha’s last days she loved to sun herself on the patio and watch the world go by, hang out on the couch to watch a movie with us or share my chair in the office to work on a project together or attend a Zoom meeting.
My gratitude for the loving, generous and always-at-the-ready help of the homeopathic veterinarians who helped life be better and beautiful is immense – first to Michele Yasson until 2019, and since then to dear friend Jeff Levy who so kindly devoted the last few days of Sasha’s life to helping her experience a peaceful, loving and natural transition in my arms.
Sasha lying in state
For three days we honored and loved her beautiful self in state, reflecting on her great courage and acknowledging the many lessons taught along the way. As I feel the heaviness of my heart I am drawn more to the beauty and peaceful solitude of nature and am being reminded in my grieving of the beauty of the changing seasons.
As our seasons move through fall to winter, I am reminded of this beautiful poem:
How beautifully leaves grow old.
How full of light and color are their last days.
—John Burroughs
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