Monday, October 20, 2014

Celebrating a devoted companion

She came into my life just when I needed her the most.

photos by Leanne Dyck

It had been a full out, head-on marathon. I was exhausted from trying to excel in too many aspects of my life that coupled with the death of my mom felt me a mere shadow of my former self. Did she sense how much I needed her?

My husband and I searched for a place for me to heal. We found Mayne Island. Because my husband had to work, I was alone checking out the house I hoped would be our new home. It turned out to be spacious, well-constructed and affordable. Tour over, I waited for my future landlady, Barb, in the living room, on the chesterfield. I waited while she tended to what her daughters needed. 

"But Mom...," one of her daughters said.

Mom, my heart cried. I felt so alone. 

A fluffy grey cat pranced into the living room.

"Oh, hello. Aren't you beautiful," I told her.

She looked at me. I read her mind. Why yes I am beautiful. How nice of you to realize it.

"Here, kitty. Come here," I called, softly.

She jumped onto the chesterfield. 

"Shh, just watch," someone whispered.

I started to pat her, she gracefully crawled onto my lap and curled up into a clump of purring grey fur. And I was no longer alone.

Barb sat down beside me. "Joey is usually very shy around strangers," she told me. "I'm amazed." She nodded at her cat asleep on my lap. "She choose you."

Sam and Joey on our porch

Barb had four cats so she offered us two. That's how first Joey and then her brother, Sam, joined our household. An adult, Joey taught us how to live with cats. She introduced us to an array of Mayne Island wildlife--mice and birds, even a humming bird. Most of them became additions to her diet. She helped me heal. I folded her into my arms and wet her grey fur with tears. She never seemed to mind; she never left my side; she was always there.

She was beautiful, graceful, a skilled hunter and a devoted champion. And I miss her. On August 21st, she slipped out of my life as gracefully as she had slipped in. 

"She's lived such a long life," I told the vet. "If she were a human we would celebrate it."

Sharing my author journey...
I've been collecting rejection letters--because that's what writers do. My favourite one, to date, arrived last Thursday. It said, to summarize, that they liked the story but felt it wasn't complete. They also said that they'd like to read the finished story. And I've been working to make that happen ever since. (And right here I should thank my husband for taking time out to edit and offer very helpful feedback. All writers should be as blessed.)


sammee44 said...

Beautiful story Leanne--I'm more a dog person than a cat person, but you made Joey very appealing! Do celebrate his long life--for that is really special for a cat--and yes, grieve a little too, for Joey was such a special cat in choosing you. . .

Leanne Dyck said...

Thank you for your kind words, Judee.
Believe it or not, I too am more of a dog person. But Joey and her brother, Sam, and our remaining cat, Ticky, were/are such good champions they have done their best to win me over.

Anonymous said...

I'm always amazed how animals choose us and how loyal they are. I don't know how they know but thankfully, they know when we need them.

Please accept my condolences. Our pets are true members of our family and we can't help but treat them as such. <3

Leanne Dyck said...

Thank you for your kind words, Tess. 'Pets are true members of our family'--I couldn't agree.

Laurie Buchanan said...

Leanne - An animal lover myself, this beautifully written tribute brought tears to my eyes.

Leanne Dyck said...

Ah, thank you, Laurie.

Zee said...

Pets really are a blessing. And I do believe that they - cats especially - choose us, not the other way around xx

Leanne Dyck said...

Thank you for your comment, Zee.
I agree. After all, they choose everything else -- where they will sleep (usually the softest spot in the house); what they will eat (usually very expensive or very gross). : )