"Cats come and go without ever leaving. " -- Martha Curtis
*Special Note: Late Wednesday evening I lost one my beloved cat Squeak very suddenly to a congenital heart defect. It all happened so quickly…all at once, Squeak awoke with a start from a deep sleep and couldn't breathe. We rushed him to the Emergency Animal Hospital and, sadly, he only lasted a very few minutes once there. He died in my arms.
And for the first time in many years, I have not been able to write.
Just couldn't do it. And so, this week's column is a repeat of a much older Field Notes column describing my similar experiences with another beloved cat friend. This column, entitled 'Angels With Fur', appeared on the Mystic Stars web site on June 18th 2009. I hope you enjoy it.
And I promise, of course, to again write a Thursday pre-column next week.
Most pets, I have come to believe, have stronger spirits than most people. Perhaps it is their unsullied capacity for love or their innocence that, in God's eyes, lifts them above humans. Perhaps it is their intimate bond with nature or their calming strength or their subtle methods of sensing emotion. Many of these things are, as they should be, a mystery. But one thing, at least in my house, is clear: animals can transcend dimensions.
Over the past few months I have seen my beloved and long-since deceased cat Gable wandering throughout my house. He has the same cougar-like swagger and continues, even after death, to rub up against my leg. And, while lingering in his furry afterlife, he remains the most gentle-souled brown tabby with soft, velvet paws and a white chest.
In my quieter moments I receive brief glimpses of his cat-perfect attitude: a stroll across the windowsill here, a playful dart down the hallway there. Sometimes a majestic jump between bookshelves will draw my attention. There is simply no mistaking his joyful resolve and pristine feline charms. I have missed him terribly and he knows it.
Of course, it wasn't always this way. When first he died I continued to feel him jump up on the bed at night, as was his habit. I was so accustomed to feeling his familiar pounce, I told myself, that I still perceived it after his death. A kind of 'phantom limb' thing: except this was with a cat, not an amputated limb, and it was felt repetitively and at regular times. Certainly, I convinced myself, it would fade. It must fade.
It did not. And has not. Over time I began to feel him walking along the length of my body and, on occasion, could actually hear him purr. Strange, but comforting. I must admit I looked forward to his nighttime snuggles, or at least the thought that our life together would continue. It all felt quite natural.
Always the pragmatist, however, I soon convinced myself that this had to stop, that I needed to work through the grief and that this 'familiar echo' couldn't possibly be him. And so I ignored his prodding nudges and convinced myself that the sound of his purring was merely the gentle drone of a distant fan. For a while, it worked: there were no paw prints across the quilt, no incessant purring and certainly no bed jumping. All was quiet.
It was right about this time that I began seeing him. For several days, almost like an announcement of his return, I heard the definite sound of a cat jumping off the kitchen counter. Others in my family heard the same thing. And on one occasion, while cooking dinner, I felt the sudden pressure of a wet, cold nose against my calf.
Gable, always the clever sort, resorted to the one cat-like gesture that was entirely feline and utterly convincing. In fact, looking back on it, there are few things more visceral and more compelling than the quick shock of a cold, wet nose against your skin. The sensation was unmistakable. He wanted to be noticed.
I first saw him only for a second and early in the morning. As I was awakening out of a deep sleep I caught a quick glimpse of him; or rather, of his gray and black transparent outline. He was crouched on top of the bookshelf looking down at me. I was shocked and said his name aloud. And, just for a moment, he recognized that I had seen him. Then he was gone and I was fully awake.
But we had seen each other; we had connected.
Since then, he is much more easily seen. Ironically, he always appears sitting high up on either a bookshelf or a windowsill; which is something he never did in life. Perhaps being on a different plane makes one prone to walking, whenever possible, above the ground.
Strange though, not even my own mother appeared to me after her death. Perhaps, however, human love is different; perhaps less pure, less absolute. All I know is that no matter where I move to, like a little furry guardian, Gable follows. From a completely other dimension he jumps on my bed, purrs and reassuringly lets me know of his presence.
I hope he knows how much I love him.
For July 30, 2015
(March 21-April 20)
Image: "During recess, a gathering of excited girls"
Message: Small talk.
Social discussions will bring unexpected revelations today. After mid-day friends or colleagues may describe private events, invitations or romantic attractions. Remain cautious, however, and expect dramatic exaggeration. By next week new information will arrive.
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