Ten Year Anniversary
Kali-Ma rescued me on January 31st, 2011. There are moments when it feels like yesterday and other times when it feels like the 10yrs it has been. You can read our in-depth story of that first day here The Story of Us. We have lived through completely unexpected joyous times and also unimaginable pain. Through it all Kali-Ma has been my consistent, never changing, unconditional love of light.
The Year 2021
On January 7th of this year, my mother was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. By the end of January, I relocated her to a memory care facility and my life changed. I had to hire an attorney for insurance issues and I received a crash course in the medical care bureaucracy. It became common for me to spend 2-3hrs a day on a call just to get Medicare/Medicaid/Aetna etc. to decipher how to maintain her care.
I visited and was blessed in that she always knew who I was. Other things were confusing to her but she always knew me and Kali-Ma. I brought her to our apartment one day and we watched a Bette Davis movie (a favorite of both my mom and Kali-Ma). It was then I knew time was fleeting because she said “You and Kali-Ma have a beautiful home and you have a good job. I won’t have to worry about you.” Kali-Ma sat next to her and covered up with a blanket she had made for Kali-Ma years ago. Before long they both were napping.
On July 31st, 5 months ago today, my mother passed away. I spent weeks with her by her side in the hospital as she endured three strokes. a heart attack and the advancement of Parkinson’s. She wanted to go back to her “room” that she knew and the day we transferred her she passed. The one thing she asked for was Kali-Ma. With Kali-Ma on her bed and me holding her hand, she cried in pain for nine hours until she died.
In the weeks and months since my mother died, I wanted to die. I couldn’t sleep or function with any normalcy. It astounded me how the sun rose, the birds sang, and life just went on. Waves of grief washed over me and I cried uncontrollably. Each time I was at my worst Kali-Ma kissed my hand, rubbed her head on mine, or pawed at my face. It was as if she was saying, “I hurt too but my litter box needs attention, I have to eat and you have to help me. We have to keep going”. At her constant urging, we went for long walks and car rides just to breathe fresh air.
Within a week I returned to the “world” and I was stunned by the ineptness, thoughtlessness, and blatant discomfort I received from people that I worked with, was friends with and had known or thought I knew for years. People said things such as “this is how life is”, “how long until you are back to normal because this can’t go on”, “this grief thing is like a dark hole and you better do something”, I was in shock and the rage inside me built because I couldn’t believe people thought they could say such ignorant things to me.
How can you tell someone that there is the life you had before your mother died and the life after. I am forever changed and will never be the same. The me they knew is gone. You can’t tell them, but the one that always understood was Kali-Ma.
My mother always said, “everyone loves Kali-Ma…she is so special”. Well, Kali-Ma began to have little tolerance for anyone but me. One day we strolled in the park and a man lowered his head to tell me what a cute cat I had and she HISSED! she kept hissing even after he was out of sight. At the moment I thought “I wish I could hiss at some people. That must of felt great”.
It took her months to “walk” at the park on her leash. She was ok in her stroller and seemed to enjoy being out. She just didn’t want to be touched or bothered. I felt the exact same way. I picked her up one day while at the park and held her tight. I whispered in her ear “we have to go one somehow and you have to walk on your leash. If I can go to that office then you can walk”.
I called the vet for some advice and he suggested Feliway plug-ins or even spray for her stroller. Feliway has helped her tremendously. She’s back walking and playing. It’s clear she doesn’t want to have anyone touch her still and that’s ok. This may just be the way she is now. We both lived through the same ordeal and likely have made permanent changes in us.
Kindness From Unexpected Places
Slowly I began to be able to control my emotional outbursts. I came home every day to Kali-Ma waiting at the top step for me. I would tell her about my day, cry and somehow the days turned into weeks. Whenever I wasn’t at the office we were stuck together tighter than glue.
One day, I received a beautiful card from my dentist and his entire staff and when I went in for a cleaning recently he gave me a big hug. I couldn’t remember the last time I was hugged. He will never how much he touched my heart.
Friends began to call to check on me and some unexpected business associates were very caring. Suddenly kindness was coming from the most unexpected places. I learned that not everyone was waiting to spout insensitive comments and that there were good people left in the world. I also accepted the fact that it was time to end some friendships that were as my mother would term “Un-Equivocal”. People that I was always there for no matter what and that couldn’t be bothered with my tears and requests for help when my mom was sick.
The Miracle of Today
This morning I bundled up Kali-Ma and took her for a walk in the park. As we entered a bright red cardinal was sitting on a tree limb near us. I said to Kali-Ma “looks like grandma is with us today”. I see my mother in hawks that fly over my head, butterflies that surround me in the summer, and always in a red cardinal.
We sat on a bench as I gave her a treat and two of the most gracious and sweet ladies came by. I asked them if they would take our picture and they did. We talked and I shared with them the anniversaries of today. The blessing of Kali-Ma and the loss of my mother. They were like angels sent from my mother. I told them things I haven’t told anyone and they gave me very tender heartfelt advice. It was a miracle that we came upon each other and I am forever grateful. I felt my mother in heaven had a hand in it.
I am so blessed to have another anniversary with Kali-Ma. There was no way I could have survived this year without her. She is comfort, caring, and complete unconditional love wrapped up in 10lbs of the softest fur that calms the heart just by touching it. When there is no one that can understand me and when I cannot understand myself, she is there with a paw and a head bump to say “we can do this together”.
Sometimes she sits in the window and just stares. I think maybe she sees Mom out there somewhere with the birds and the wildlife. If you can hear us Mother, we love you. We miss you. You are in our hearts every single day.