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Pet Stories: In Your Own Words

Pets as teachers? Why not

By: Isabelle Liddle

I have had many kinds of pets in my life, but there was one cat who was so special. I am sure our link was very "cosmic". She looked somewhat like a chocolate point Siamese-type cat, but was born into a litter of otherwise all black kittens. Her mother was an unusually small black cat brought to me as a gift from Hawaii.

Meenu was born a full day after the rest of the litter and was totally white then... Quite a surprise she was. She and I bonded as soon as she was old enough to leave her mother even for a few minutes and she remained with me through two long term human relationships. In all we spent more than fifteen years together. Her unusual appearance alone would have made her stand out, but her intelligence and ability to communicate was almost unbelievable. Everyone seemed to notice it. She would often sit at a person's feet and stare up at them focusing intently until she was sure they were paying attention and then would leap straight up into their arms!

Meenu would follow behind us on long walks through the woods and traveled easily around the country in my Volkswagen bus in the 70's. She was quite the gypsy who made herself at home anywhere and was instantly loved wherever we went. Meenu had an exciting life.

Her passing from this world was an intense experience which filled me and others around with awe. Meenu was always a very healthy cat, but one day out of the blue I decided she needed her booster immunizations right then. I called the vet who just happened to have had a cancellation so I booked in for the next hour. Sitting next to us in the clinic was a very sick cat who had "feline leukemia" and this is what Meenu eventually came down with as well. I can only believe that it was on a soul level that those two cats arranged that meeting so that the next events could take place.

Meenu had been very ill for several weeks and people who saw her only occasionally were advising me to have her put to sleep, but every time I held her she quite clearly told me otherwise. No matter how ill and how weak, she would get up enough energy to purr like crazy for me and just relax in my arms. It was obvious to me that she was still very happy and very much wanting to "be there".

Each morning I awoke feeling that surely her body could not have made it through one more night and was surprised over and over at her choice to remain in that frail and weakened body. On the last morning I felt there was no way for her to still be living, but again she was. I sat on the floor next to her bed and rested her head in my hand. She looked up at me, purred loudly one last time, sighed, and then left her body with her grace and dignity still intact. I know she was just waiting to say good bye. She made it look so effortless and so peaceful.

In wondering why she would have chosen to have this experience, I have come up with the answer that among other things, I felt that my partner at that time had never really appreciated cats and witnessing the strength, determination and grace of this one gave him great respect and admiration for cat beings. He ended up loving her as much as I did and it was his idea that we bury her as we did. A man known for his gruff nature was suddenly revealed to be very thoughtful and caring.

I put my gold seven-pointed star around her neck and then wrapped her in a beautiful purple silk sari expecting to bury her in our yard. My partner had another idea... We took her to the top of Mt. Tamalpais in a newly restored MGTF. It was her last adventure. We were off to find her final resting place. With her in my arms, tears streaming down my cheeks and hair blowing in the wind we rode up and around that spectacular mountain until we came to a place with a beautiful ocean view. My partner looked quite pleased with himself when he finished burying her. It was the perfect spot and he had so lovingly dug the hole and placed her in it. At that moment I had more respect and love for him than I could have imagined and it seemed only suitable that such a special friend as Meenu should rest in the arms of Mt. Tam---which is called "The Sleeping Lady".

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