“The Cat’s Meow…”

April 26, 2013

CroppedTeddyWhen I awakened this morning, my eyes opened to see Jackson’s paw on my arm as he sat like a protective Sphinx beside me.  His eyes looked into mine, slowly blinked, and he turned his head away.  His paw remained on my arm.

Teddy sits over on the sofa in my bedroom, looking my way, but he knows it’s Jackson’s job to protect me.  He hangs out nearby, but never tries to take Jackson’s job away from him.  Jackson would never allow it.

Jackson and Teddy have been with me for two years now.  They were Josh’s cats from when he lived in Minneapolis.  He brought them here to live with me when he came back to New York.

Can you keep a secret?  I don’t think he’s getting them back.

These are angel cats.  Yes, little angels sent from God – first to my son to help him get over a bad break-up with his girlfriend – and then, for me, two years ago when I felt my life crumbling beneath me like some futuristic science-fiction movie where the actors run through the scenery just as the earth opens beneath them with their every step.

I am ahead of myself.

After graduate school at NYU Stern, my son moved with his girlfriend to Minneapolis to work for Target.  We all thought they would get engaged and start a life together there.  He bought an apartment, started his new job, and he and his girlfriend went to the neighborhood “rescue” to adopt a pet.

Josh had a Tiger cat when he was younger – I named him “Fendi.” I had once seen a Fendi fashion show in Milan and was so fascinated and amazed by the fur coats they offered – I remember that I laughed about what they could possibly be made of since they looked like no fur I had ever seen – little pieces of fur sewn together that my colleagues and I joked had to be mouse or gopher or something.  When I saw the little ball of fur  that would soon be our new baby kitten, I thought of those fur coats of unknown origin.  I said, “Well, that’s about as close to a Fendi fur coat as I’m ever going to get!” and the name stuck.  Fendi.  For years afterwards, people would say, “You named your cat after a handbag?”  Almost no one knows that Fendi makes many other fashion items besides handbags.

Fendi was with us for eleven years.  He was sweet and ferocious at the same time.  One time, my then-husband  had to come home from work because Fendi had cornered the plumber and the guy had called Fred in terror to come free him.

Fendi was sweet and cuddly with us.  Even so, I didn’t realize that Josh was so attached to him until he called me from Minneapolis to tell me that he got TWO tiger cats – they reminded him of Fendi and he wanted both, although they are as different as night and day in personality:  Teddy is a little feral cat that we believe was never owned by anyone.  Scared of his own shadow, he used to hide the whole time I’d come to visit Josh in Minneapolis.  On the other hand, Jackson is the most personable cat I’ve ever met – he follows us around like a little puppy and must be near one of us all the time.  He had been neutered when he was turned into the rescue center, so he must have been owned by someone.  It is like a knife in our hearts to think that someone put this gorgeous creature out in the cruel Minneapolis winter.  Yet, now we have him – so we lucked out all the way ‘round.

Shortly after Josh got his cats, he and his girlfriend broke up.  It was a heart-wrenching break-up, sudden and unexpected.  Josh spent the next few years alone in Minneapolis.  He’s told me that Jackson and Teddy were the balm for his broken heart during that time.

My own heartbreak two years ago was just as unforeseen and devastating, all the more because I thought it had occurred eighteen years before!  That’s when my husband and I had separated.  It took a long time to get divorced – in 2002.

And, even longer to really split – that was two years ago.

In all that time, we had been good friends.  I don’t think either one of us realized that it was more than friends – it was a bond as strong as a gnarly knot, but not evident in our lives.   Except for the constant phone calls, we rarely saw each other; he had a partner, I had a different life.

When he told me he was getting married, it sunk in that he wasn’t supposed to be my best friend anymore – that should have ended eighteen years before.  No wonder I hadn’t wanted another partner!  Fred was too much in my space!

That was it.  I went through all of the feelings and grief that I should have gone through eighteen years before – and didn’t.  For the first time, I felt lonely.  It came as such a surprise!  And, yet – it didn’t.

Six weeks later, my son got a job in New York and came home with his two tiger cats.  The plan was that he would live with his dad until he sold his apartment in Minneapolis.  But, Fred has a big dog — the cats couldn’t stay there.  Josh asked me if I would take Jackson and Teddy?

Josh brought them over and stayed for a few days to be sure that they were okay.  I took to them like comfort by the fireside.  Jackson was an instant buddy.  Teddy took longer to win over – it took a few days for him to come out from behind the sofa, and even longer to get him to sleep on the bed with me, but he always let me pick him up and cry into his belly when the sadness would be too much for me to bear alone.

It’s two years later now, and we’ve got our routine down.  Jackson sits by me as I write and work every day, Teddy snuggles in with me on the sofa during television time at night.

They saved my life.

Now you know why I think they’re angels.  They were with Josh when he needed them.  Then, when I needed them more, they came to me.  This is not coincidence.  This is a gift.

Not long ago, I had to look up my original lease from ten years ago.  As I read through it, I saw that, under “Pets,” I had checked off “cat” and had crossed out “1” and written in “2” – and had the landlord sign it.

I didn’t have any cats at the time, let alone two of them.

That was ten years ago.  Now, I have Jackson and Teddy – after Andrew Jackson and Teddy Roosevelt, two of Josh’s favorite US Presidents.  They are my buddies.

I love them.

I was telling my friend, Alan, how much I love heading to my apartment door when I come home from somewhere — I know that on the other side of that door, my two buddies are going to be there waiting for me.  Alan said, “That’s good.  You’re creating new pathways in your brain — pathways that expect LOVE to be on the other side of that door.  That’s the beginning.  Next is the man!”   Wow!   I’m for THAT!

When I remember that old lease, written so long ago when there were no cats, I am struck by how synchronistic it seems.  I remember that Einstein said, “There is no time,” everything already exists – and I wonder.

I am blessed.

Deliciously yours in the Miracle of it All,  Linda

Note:  Jackson is the one in the header picture and that’s Teddy in the thumbnail, looking out at the traffic on First Avenue in Manhattan.

© Linda Ruocco and “Spiritual Chocolate”, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Linda Ruocco and ”Spiritual Chocolate” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Thank you.

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Last week, one of my seminar leaders, Kristi, wrote to me that her Corgi, Bella, had died… a lovely email tribute to what was so clearly a beautiful partnership between Kristi and her beloved dog…. her friend, really…  I loved how Kristi wrote, “Bella had me wrapped around her finger (paw)…”    Bella died on her own birthday after a long and happy life with Kristi  — and Kristi was communicating in celebration of Bella’s life and the contribution that she was to Kristi and everyone that met her – how everyone who knew Bella “fell in love.”

 

It reminded me of the night my friend, Suzy, had called me, frantic, to come quickly to the animal hospital on 61st Street, near the East River.   Her Corgi, Bart, was sick and the doctors thought he would die.  I’m a Reiki Master and she wanted me to come and offer Reiki to Bart. 

 

I ran over to the hospital and what a sight…!  My friend on the table, arms wrapped around her little Corgi, talking to him and singing softly in his ear, and he was lying with his neck up around her neck and he was so quiet and still, listening to her voice.  It was late at night and the hospital was quiet and still and all you could hear was Suzy singing to Bart…

 

For so many years, I had seen them together – everywhere Suzy went, Bart went, too…  She loved him with all her heart and I could see that that was only surpassed by how much he loved her… He trotted along behind her on his short little legs….  yet, sometimes, Bart could have quite the mind of his own and be off down the hill if he spotted a squirrel or an interesting human with a toy or a treat! 

 

Everyone loved Bart – children squealed when they saw him, and even adults could not resist his enthusiastic charm, not to mention how many men Suzy was able to immediately engage in intimate conversation because they, too, could not resist Bart – he was an instant icebreaker!  When I stayed with her, he would come up on the bed and sleep with us — and, even I, who was not Bart’s “Mom”, found myself totally enamored with this little lump of love.

 

It strikes me that dogs are a particular kind of pet….  while cats will choose the times they want to be with you – and often they don’t! – Dogs are most happy when they are around people.  I’ve heard many people say that dogs are “unconditional love” – and — if only we thought as highly of ourselves as our dogs do!  Never judgmental, never aloof, always by our sides, no matter what….

 

My family had three dogs when I was growing up, and our German Shepard, Toro, was “my” dog.  I could never sneak into the house late with Toro around – my father would come out of his room, awakened by Toro’s excited whimpering, lean over the upstairs banister and say, “I knew it was you.  Toro only sounds like that when it’s you – that’s his ‘love pant’!”  I could do no wrong in Toro’s eyes…  what’s even more important is that I didn’t want to…. Toro would lope into the room and my heart would melt… I loved him with all my heart, just the way he loved me.

 

So, here’s the question…  Why can’t we be like that with each other?  Love is the same – it just gets blocked sometimes.  We don’t block it with our animals, why do we let those walls go up with our fellow man?  We don’t have to be right with our dogs, we don’t have to prove anything to them, we are always “enough” for them…

 

Hmmm…  we are always enough for them…

 

When we are enough, we don’t have to be anything other than what we are – and that feels so good and we feel so lovable — we don’t feel a  need for protection and we can love right back – with all our hearts…

 

What if we could love everyone that way?  What would the world look like?    Just thinking about that possibility makes me smile…

 

So, there was Suzy, singing softly into Bart’s ear, “How much is that doggie in the window?  The one with the waggley tail…” – she said that was Bart’s favorite song… (what is so funny about that is that Bart didn’t even have a tail!).  I started doing Reiki on him, pouring all my love into his little body and, after about 10 minutes, he heaved a big sigh and passed over – I had never seen life pass from a living being before – it was a sight so beautiful… so peaceful…  I felt blessed to be there…

 

The nurse came in and took Bart out of Suzy’s arms.  As I waited for her to pack her things, I walked to the window and looked out to the East River beyond, the moon shining down on the water.  I knew Bart had died – I had my hands on his body when he breathed his final sigh – but I didn’t feel that he was dead… because he wasn’t… I felt him as strongly in that moment, looking out the window, as I did when I felt him breathe his last… 

 

When love is present, anything is possible — even in the face of death, love is always there – and love never dies…  

 

Suzy buried Bart’s ashes in her garden in the front of her house, under a big beautiful tree….  to this day, she calls it “Bart’s garden…”   She says that Bart was actually an angel, sent to help her learn about life… She thinks he did his job well….

 

This is for you, Kristi, and for you, Suzy – and for all my friends who love their animals….

 

Happy Birthday, Bella…  Sweet Dreams, Bart…

 

Deliciously yours in the grandeur of it all, Linda 

 

© Linda Ruocco and “Spiritual Chocolate”, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Linda Ruocco and “Spritiual Chocolate”  with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  Thank you. 

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