Last week I went through the painful process of saying goodbye to my beloved kitty cat, Maya (also affectionately known as Blackie, Blacks, Blackster, little Blackie, Blackie girl, Fancy Foot, the Princess of Darkness). Within twenty minutes at the vets, something that had been previously diagnosed as a non-cancerous, treatable shoulder injury was escalated to either leg amputation or terminal illness. I was devastated and shocked. Out of the many possible outcomes discussed in previous visits, those weren’t on the list.
I was told to go home while they ran some additional tests. A while later I got the phone call letting me know that there were tumors all over her thoracic area. The bump on her shoulder was not an injury after all, but cancer, which quickly spread in her little body in only a month’s time. She had three weeks to live on her own, and she would have been in pain and unable to do all of her favorite activities. Like discipline my other pets 🙂 , steal and bat around my healing stones like hockey pucks, protect the house, lounge out front, playfully beg for her favorite treats, or use all four of her legs. I felt the best option was to let her transition that day and headed to the vets to be with her.
On the way I asked for help. I called in my angels and anyone else who might be available to support little Blackie and me. The next song that came on the radio was Joy to the World by Three Dog Night, my Grandfather’s favorite song. I felt a quick surge of relief, knowing Gramps was with me. Quickly my grief returned, and I forgot about the incident until later.
As I arrived, I felt grateful I got to be with Blackie in her final moments. I cradled her in my arms, kissed her head, and ran Reiki to her as she crossed. Before her heart fully stopped beating, I saw her little spirit pop out of her body, sitting on the ground looking at me. Although I knew in that moment she was no longer in pain, my grief was too much to allow that sense of peace into my heart.
After I got home from the vets I laid outside on the patio couch staring into space. Hours later I saw my grandfather, at a younger age, looking as dapper and happy as ever, strutting down the street with a pack of animals surrounding him. My little Blackie and some of my family’s pets were with him. Right next to my grandfather, as if guarding him, was a giant St. Bernard. When I saw the St. Bernard I dismissed my vision…none of us had a St. Bernard before. I had a sense that Blackie was with him, but the image I saw didn’t fully make sense.
A couple of days later, I wondered if the St. Bernard was my grandfather’s. Maybe from before I was born? I never knew my grandparents with pets. When I asked my mother she responded, “Yes, he and his brother used to breed St. Bernards! My Aunt told me that Gramps used to march down the street with the parents and the litter of puppies in tow.”
In that moment, I felt peace. My grandfather was with us from the very beginning, from the car ride to after Blackie crossed, trying to let me know she was happy and in good company. I told my grandfather that she likes to lead the pack, and I saw him encourage her to the front, where she’s now leading the pack.
So, in honor of my girl, I share the six best lessons I learned from her…
- Never let your past dictate your future
When I rescued Blackie she was supposedly six months old. She hadn’t warmed up to any foster parents. For the first month I had her, she hid in the hallway closet. After work each night I’d sit in the closet with her. Gradually I moved closer. Eventually we got to the point that she would allow me to put her in my arms and cuddle. Fast forward six years, well, you’ll read below. She was our guard dog and our fierce protector, afraid of nothing that came her way, and extremely affectionate.
- Animals are earth angels and healers
Occasionally I feel anxious before bed or have trouble falling asleep. Most often Blackie would somehow find her way to me on those evenings. She’d either sleep directly on my heart or touching me. One night I realized her purring was calming my anxiety. I had never read anything about it, but after experiencing it I googled it and found that cat purring can relieve anxiety in humans. Kind of amazing.
- Actions speak louder than words
Blackie’s little mew was barely audible. However, she was badass. One night I heard cats screaming as the neighborhood bully cat attacked another cat. I looked around for Blackie and couldn’t see her at first. Then I saw her silently and stealthily chasing the bully cat down the street. She didn’t make a noise, and her black fur was camouflaged against the darkness of night.
- Strength isn’t in size
Out of all of my pets, I was most protective of Blackie, and ironically she was the most protective out of all of my pets. Blackie was the smallest cat in the neighborhood, but she protected our property more fiercely than my dog. She was always aware of who was coming and going and what was going on in the neighborhood. She had courage beyond her little body size.
- Be unapologetically affectionate with those you love
Once Blackie opened up to me, she was the most affectionate kitty. When I’d pat her for a few moments, I’d get kissed in return for a few minutes. Even in her last minutes, as I held her, wrapped in a towel by the vets, she insisted on more intimate affection. She fussed and squirmed until I removed the towel. Once her body was directly against mine, she settled into my arms and began purring.
- Belief in something helps with the grief
I’ve said goodbye to pets before, and it’s always heartbreaking. This time around has been different for me since coming into my own form of faith, intuitive abilities and understanding of energy. It hasn’t fully eliminated the grief, but peace was able to enter my heart sooner than I expected. While I’d still love to see her right here right now in front of me, I know she’ll somehow come back to me and until then is with me in a different form.