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Lessons from my cat

My cat Danny is dying.

The timing of Danny’s transition is not lost on me. Danny has been by my side since the spring after I returned to my marriage (and Mitch) after a ten month separation. It seems that Danny came into my life, took one look around and said “Oh boy, she’s gonna need some help.

Danny was by my side for the two years after I recommitted to Mitch, yet lived with the unsettling feeling that something just wasn’t right. Danny glued himself to my lap after the devastating discovery of Mitch’s lies and infidelities. When I responded to that trauma by spending five years shutting myself in and isolating myself from any real connection (other than my kids), Danny was there on my lap, gazing up at me as if to say “take as long as you need love, I’ll be here until you are ready.”

My wife Jude says that Danny is an ex-lover, but I think Danny was a guide sent from God, the Universe, or some other-worldly spirit-guide-command-central. Danny arrived as if by assignment from the manager of this spirit-guide-command-central. “We got a tough one down there cat, but if anyone can handle this case it’s you.” Through the last fourteen years of my life I have experienced pain and loss I didn’t think I would recover from. Love and healing I never thought would be possible. Every moment Danny has been there. Mostly on my lap, purring.

When Jude came into my life Danny was protective. She (lovingly) calls him a c*ck blocker. When Jude put her hand on my body, Danny sat right on top of it, as if to say “that’s far enough, friend.” If he could get to me before her (which he often did), he would place himself carefully chosen parts of my body and glare at her with his “make one move and I’ll scratch your eyes out” stare.

Eventually Danny softened to Jude, but not without regularly reminding her who’s the boss with a loud, short and sharp “MEOW!” Or stealthily brushing just the tips of his whiskers on her face as she sleeps, waking her up with a start. Puzzled at what woke her, Jude’s hands brush her face where Danny tickled her. Danny sits at the foot of the bed, licking his hind leg as if to say, “Who, me? I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Jude knows it was him.

She accepts her place.

It’s been almost eight years since I met Jude. Half of Danny’s life. By now I know and trust that Jude won’t hurt me, and I think Danny does too. Healing takes a long time, and it’s hard work. Danny is tired. He knows he can move on because he knows that I am safe and I am loved. I am healed.

Danny taught me how to communicate and received unconditional love. He taught me that just being there for someone is enough—words are overrated. Danny taught me to fight for what I want and to let my voice be heard. He taught me that even if someone is cranky or mad, not to take offence, but keep reminding them that they are loved. He taught me to let myself rest. To soak up the sun. To snuggle more. Danny taught me that it’s not what you look like that makes you who you are, it’s what is in your spirit and your heart.

Danny taught me to take no guff.

But most of all he taught me how to be grateful for every moment you have with the ones you love. Because it’s not a forever game.

I like to think that Danny will head back to spirit-guide-command-central before his next assignment. I like to think that he receives a medal of distinction for excelling at the lessons he has taught me, the love that he has given me and the love that he has delivered me unto.

I know I wasn’t easy.

I like to think that Danny will arrive in his next form, to the next person who needs love, help, healing and salvation. Maybe it will be someone just like me, maybe not. For now, Danny’s job is done.

I am whole, I am loved and I will never ever forget the gift of this little orange cat.

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