I have a lot to do today, but I wound up awake too early. I knew I couldn’t get through this incredibly hectic day on just five hours of sleep. I went back to sleep and now I wish I hadn’t.
During my hour and half nap, I had a dream. I was in a house that I’ve never lived in with furniture I’ve never owned. My guitar was in its stand next to the end table and my cat, Phoebe, was on that end table. She was doing this thing she used to do where she’d pluck the guitar strings with her teeth. The noise was what had brought dream-me into that unfamiliar room. It was such a distinct noise. I saw her and started to say something, I have no idea what, when I realized that I was dreaming because Phoebe died back in June. As soon as I realized this, the dream switched to something random and unmemorable.
But as the next dream played on, I carried the feeling of being cheated out of the time I had with her in the dream because I became aware of reality. That mirrored all too well how I feel cheated of my time with her in real life. I get it, she’s a cat. She was 13 years old. Let it go. And for the most part, I don’t dwell on losing her too much. But when these reminders come up, I find myself open to finding the lesson. She was always full of lessons in our time together.
When she was born, she died. My grandma lived in the country and had several outside cats. One day, there was a new litter and one of them wasn’t breathing. My grandma gave her CPR and she lived. I didn’t know about that story until AFTER I adopted her. You could get all metaphysical about it, but all I know is she was not a “normal” cat.
I remember the time I was lying in bed in pain and wanting so badly to die. I don’t beg God for much, but I begged for that. I couldn’t understand why God would give me a life that hurt so much. I didn’t know what my ability to do basically nothing was going to accomplish for Him or me and I was so incredibly tired. I wanted it over. I was mentally counting pills in my possession and wondering what they would do. I didn’t take any. I’ve never attempted suicide. But I have wanted to die badly enough to wonder, badly enough to beg God, badly enough to hope to not wake up. And in the worst moment, here comes this ball of fluff and attitude, she was only a year or so old, and she curled up right next to me and purred and slept. Her presence snapped me back into realizing that there was SOMETHING good in my life, that I meant something to someone. I know I mean a lot to many people, but depression and isolation don’t always listen to reason, they listen to presence. She could always sense my pain and need. And she was always there for me. And for 13 years, I did my best to be there for her. But then time goes on, and life takes it’s toll. All good things must end, and she was no exception.
Shortly after she passed, her sister from the same litter, Nelly, passed away. Several months before, in January, my oldest cat, Gypsy, passed away. Gypsy taught me how to love again after I’d been through a loss and didn’t trust myself to get close to anyone or anything. She didn’t really give me an option. Nelly taught me that we don’t always recognize our own tail, but that we ALWAYS love our sister, even after we get annoyed at each other. Maybe especially then.
Everything in life is an exchange. You give of yourself to someone and they give something back. You may not ever realize what they taught you or how they changed you, but I guarantee they have. In science, and specifically forensic analysis of crime scenes, there is a theory called Locard’s Exchange Principle. It states that a perpetrator of a crime will always leave something of themselves at a crime scene and take something of the crime scene away with them. Always. The criminal and his crime form a symbiotic relationship so they cannot help but be affected by each other. It may be microscopic. The police may never actually find it or know what it means if they do, let alone solve the case; but, that doesn’t mean that the exchange didn’t occur. Everyone who walks into, out of, or through our lives, changes something. And they are changed by us and everyone else we’ve ever met. It’s an interesting concept to me; and now, I sit here chuckling because there is probably at least one of my readers who hates cats. But, if they have taken anything from any of my posts, if they have ever thanked me for writing it; they are, in some manner, actually thanking Phoebe, Gypsy and Nelly because I wouldn’t be the me who is sitting here today without them.
Maybe I’m glad that I went back to sleep and had that dream…