Nine Lives I Had...

When I was born, I had Nine Lives: One, I gave to my mother who brought me into this world; Seven, I spent pursuing foolish adventures; the Last, I lovingly entrusted to you for safekeeping. And to your heart you held it until the time came for me to take it back.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Of Memory and Loss

I originally wrote this as a tribute to another furriend on And Then There Were Four. I felt that it also belonged here.

Before I went to sleep, I decided that the next morning I would go and get a pet. I was not sure if it would be a dog or cat or bird or something else. All I knew was that I needed, no, wanted to share my life with another creature that would accept my friendship and affection.

As I slept, I fell into a deep dream.

There before me sat the most beautiful creature, neither male nor female. To either side of this wonderous creature, there were two indentical waterfalls with deep clear pools at their base. From each waterfall, the most crystal blue water cascaded down. I was entranced. Never before had I seen seen such beauty, such serentity.

Wordlessly, the creature motioned for me to come towards the pools at the base of the waterfalls. I noticed that at each pool, there was a small silver cup attached to a fine silver chain.
"Dip thy finger into the pool and taste." the creature said as it gestured to the pool to its left.

I did as instructed. As the clear cool liquid touched my tongue, my stomach clenched with pain and my heart pounded fiercely within my chest. A hollowness rang throughout my being that I feared I would never recover from.

"This is the Pool of Loss." the creature said and then it motioned to the other pool of water. "Dip thy finger into the pool and taste."

Warily, I drew my forefinger through the water of the other pool of water. As my finger touched my tongue, a joy so deep and pure touched my soul. A wave of happiness and wonder drowned the pangs of sorrow and loss the first pool had caused.

"This is the Pool of Memory." the creature said. "If you take one of God's creatures into your heart, you must be prepared to drink from both pools. Do you accept this as your covenant, your bond with one of God's creatures?"

Silently I nodded yes.

"Then drink from each pool." The creature instructed as it motioned towards the silver cups at the sides of the pools."For now they will bear no taste, but in time you will discover how much you have partaken of each."

The very next day, I went and found a kitten at a local pound. It was the smallest one of the litter and it was the one who seemed to need me the most.

I watched it grow and play and I revelled in the smallest joy it brought to me. But then without warning, it was taken from me in a way most sudden and cruel.

Once again I felt the pangs I had felt in my dream when I tasted the waters of the Pool of Loss. Only this time, I thought the pain would never leave. Then, I remembered the taste of the waters from the Pool of Memory. Slowly the pain of Loss began to subside, and was replaced with the joy of Memory.

Now I realized that I had drank more from the Pool of Loss than the Pool of Memory in my dream. But now I knew that the Pool of Memory brought more than enough comfort to offset the pain the Pool of Loss could cause.

I now bear the knowledge that each time I open my heart to one of God's creatures, I drink from the Pool of Memory and the Pool of Loss. How much I partake depends on each creature and that, in the end, the power of Memory is so much more powerful than the power of Loss.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Chloe, Founder of the House of the (Mostly) Black Cats

At the ripe old age of 18 I was living on my own for the first time ever in a tiny two room efficiency. One night, I heard scratching noises in the other room, and I just knew it was a burglar trying to get in the window. A frantic phone call to my mother later, a fat old rat ran through my bedroom and disappeared into the closet. The people who'd lived there before me had a cat, and it wasn't until months later that this rat appeared. So since I was NOT going to live with dirty wild city rats using my bedroom as a corridor, I decided that I needed a cat myself.

The very next day, I meditated and came up with the right cat's name, Chloe, and went to find the cat it belonged to. I found an ad for free kittens and cats to good homes. I phoned, and was told to come over any time, and asked if I was sure I only wanted one. I was astounded when I arrived and found a house just full of cats. Apparently this lady had never heard of spay/neuter, because there were some 65 cats running around, by her last count, all descended from her male Siamese who was the top cat. The lady's husband had declared that they all had to go, so she was desperately trying to find them all homes. I told her that I lived in an efficiency, so I could only have one cat, and I stuck to that.

I started walking around and looking for Chloe. I knew she was in there somewhere, but I didn't have any idea what she looked like or how old she was, even. I'm sure the lady thought I was insane when I started softly calling for Chloe, but apparently Chloe didn't. She came walking up calmly, tilted her head, and sat down in front of me, ignoring her many siblings scrambling all over the place. She was a gorgeous black kitty, about 6 months old, long legged and thin, with big green-gold eyes. I scritched behind her ears and talked to her for a minute, promising she'd be taken care of all her life, all I wanted was for her to scare off the nasty rats with her scent. She agreed to come with me, I felt, and we left the crazy cat lady's house without a backward glance.

I quickly discovered that Chloe's Siamese background ran true to form in her voice. She let me know in no uncertain terms that riding in the car was NOT her favorite pasttime. But once I got her back to my little efficiency, she immediately made herself at home. From then on, even with several moves and adopted brother and sister cats that came and went, Chloe was queen of the house.

As a youngster, Chloe played fetch. Her favorite toy was a paper ball. Any paper ball. If there was paper and it wasn't balled up, she would insist in her strange Meezer tones that it must be balled up for her.

Chloe was an amazingly smart cat too. I developed a problem with forgetting to lock the deadbolt door in that first little efficiency we lived in. My heart would be in my throat when I'd come home from art school to find the apartment door open and Chloe wandering around the building. Since we lived in the city, the building was always locked, so she couldn't get out, just about inside the apartment building. But it was unnerving nonetheless. Then one day I heard a rattling noise at the door, and peeked out from my bed to see Chloe calmly sitting on the dresser, unlocking the flip-style deadbolt with one paw. I watched her paw the lock until it flipped open, then gracefully hop down and push the door open to go prowling. I could hardly believe it! Needless to say, I started using a secondary lock -- which Chloe couldn't flip open -- to keep her from letting herself out.

Chloe wasn't a lap cat, but occasionally she would deign to sit on me, or later my mother. You see, Chloe adopted my mother when I split with my ex-husband and could only find a no pets place to live. Chloe and Mom were thrilled with each other, though. Mom had always loved to visit and play fetch with Chloe. So for the next few years, I visited them together. Then, when Chloe was 15, an opportunity came for all of us to share a place, so we did.

Chloe spent the last years of her life a very spoiled and happy queen kitty with us two loving cat staff. I was working from home, and she supervised my activities daily from her own basket on my desk, complete with a "hot head lamp" to keep her toasty. In the evenings when my mother was home she would trot downstairs to hang out with her and get spoiled by her other human.

When Chloe was 18, she developed kidney failure. For a time it was possible to hydrate her and adjust her food, keeping her content and pain-free. Then one evening I saw her barely make it to jump into one of her favorite chairs, and curl up with an oh-so tired look. I knew then that Chloe was leaving us. I called my mother upstairs and told her. We were both so sad at the idea of not having Chloe in our lives, but we knew that it was time for her to go. It was a Saturday, evening, and we spoke to our very sweet, caring vet about how to best help our darling fur girl, and made an appointment to take Chloe to see her first thing, either for help or to help her make her crossing to the Rainbow Bridge. Chloe didn't seem to be in any pain, simply running out of steam, so we decided to spend her last days with her, close by, letting her know how much we loved her. My mother and I stayed with her constantly, talking to her, telling her we loved her so much, telling her how much we'd enjoyed her company.

Sunday, Chloe refused food, but would drink water if I would hold the water bowl for her. We brought Chloe to the living room, and I made a pallet to sleep on with Chloe, right next to the sofa where my mother slept that night. I woke up many times during the night, and gave Chloe little sips of water so she would be comfortable, without the dry mouth of dehydration. My mother woke frequently to pet her and talk to her too. We stayed with her all night long. Chloe never mewed or complained; she never seemed to be in any pain. She purred a soft little weak purr when we petted her and talked to her, poor tired baby. The next morning, we were both with her when the vet helped her gently to the Rainbow Bridge. Our hearts were broken.

But Chloe had left her mark indelibly, and we knew that we would get another cat. We thought perhaps we would wait a while and let our grief ease away first. The second day, though, I couldn't stand to not have little cat feet padding around the house. Neither could my mother. So I meditated and came up with the right cat's name, Sanjee, and went to find the cat it belonged to...

And that's how Chloe founded the House of the (Mostly) Black Cats.

Alyssa (1989 - 2001)

Sorry no picture.

Alyssa was a purebred ragdoll cat whose life began in a cattery. Unfortunately, this cattery was more interested in having kittens for sale than the well-being of their animals.

My wife and her mother rescued Alyssa from the cattery when she was about four as she was very tiny and only able to produce one or two kittens per litter. By this time, most of Alyssa's teeth had fallen out and she had a deep wheeze from sleeping in her tiny litter lined cage. I met Alyssa when I started dating my wife-to-be. She had another roomate, a diabetic male cat named Sox, but she was content to play on her own.

Right off the bat, she adopted me. There were times when I would crash on the wife-to-be's couch and I would wake up to find Alyssa curled up around my head or on my chest or simply laying on the back of the sofa nearby. This was a habit that she kept after we were married. Alyssa would sleep on my pillow curled up around my head.

She was always a wheezy kitty, but in the fall of 2001, her wheezing became worse. I was travelling for work when my wife called to let me know that Alyssa was hiding more and more and that her breathing seemed more laboured.

She took Alyssa to the VET the next day, and was given the bad news. Alyssa's breathing was laboured because her lungs were filling up with fluid. He told her that this was not a condition that Alyssa would ever recover from. She told me that night that they let Alyssa cross to the Rainbow Bridge that morning. For several, days, Smudge, Alyssa's adopted brother, searched the house for her and then he stopped. I like to think she came back to let him know that she was okay

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Time to start...

Since September 9th is not very far off, I want to place the call out to every furriend who wants to place their memory in the blog.

Send your picture (if you have one), and a paragraph or two about your Rainbow Bridge angel to

I will start compiling the entries and will post them all near the end of August.