December 23rd my vacation began to the news that one of my classmates committed suicide earlier this month. I clung to Kali-Ma as I read the posting and tears rolled down my face. Cat comfort in this unexpected grief was all I could wrap my arms around.
The Big Chill
The phone began ringing with calls, text messages, and memories were shared. Due to the pandemic, there was no funeral. We all spoke of the last time we saw her and the memories we had of her in school. All the while Kali-Ma laid in my lap during my anguish and sadness.
There were over 700 people in our class. I think of us like a family. We don’t always get along or see each other, but we thanks to Facebook we are all connected. Suddenly one of the kindest most beloved links in our chain was gone and by her own hand.
I couldn’t think or sleep. I tried listening to music and my head started to pound. So I dug into my DVD collection looking for an old 80’s movie and there it was at the top of the stack,”The Big Chill”. Nothing could have been more appropriate. Kali-Ma and I settled in under the blanket to watch a movie about classmates coming together for the funeral of their friend that had committed suicide.
It was strangely cathartic. We all needed a funeral and to be able to gather together but we couldn’t. All the things they were feeling I was feeling. I talked to Kali-Ma through the entire movie and told her how the people on the screen were so much like my friends in real life.
A Walk In The Snow
The next day Kali-Ma woke me up running from room to room and the reason being was the snow falling outside. Kali-Ma loves the snow. Life still felt like a haze but as always Kali-Ma came first. I believe it was also her way of giving me cat comfort in grief.
I put on her sweater with the hood. Then packed up the stroller with the blanket, some treats, and we were off to the park for a long winter walk.
I walked and talked to Kali-Ma as the snow fell down in big lacey white flakes. It was bitter cold but Kali-Ma was determined to walk for a short period of the path. It’s amazing that this Houston born cat loves the snow as much as she does.
We stopped on a park bench and I told her things I couldn’t tell another living soul. All the pain and loss poured out of me like a faucet turned on full force as I fed Kali-Ma her treats. Tears were running down my face as a man passed by.
The man stopped at the bridge a short distance ahead of us and turned around to say “I left something for you here”. When Kali-Ma and I got to the bridge he had written ‘Merry X-Mas’ in the snow. Kali-Ma peeked her head out of her stroller in approval of the kind gesture by the stranger.
The next few days until today were nothing less than a blur. The only reason I got out of bed each day was because a paw gently pushed against my face. Some days I didn’t even go to bed, but stayed awake all night in my recliner.
Ask me about 40 years ago and it seems so clear, but ask me about the past few days and they are a fog. I know I communicated with people but none of it seems tangible. For whatever reason, I awoke this morning and began to feel a little like me again.
I called Linda Jo, my friend from school for over 40 years, and we talked for over an hour. We laughed and after we hung up we called each other back twice. Then I figured out how to three-way call Linda Jo and our other friend Jeff. We had a great call. Three old friends laughing like old times. Life was slowly getting back to normal and it was ok to laugh again.
There by the grace of Kali-Ma go I…….
If not for Kali-Ma this past week, I wouldn’t have gotten out of bed, gone outside, or had anyone to confide my sadness and grief to. There were moments when I just couldn’t comprehend the events of the past week or even the past year for that matter.
I found myself watching the recent biography about Robin Williams and how Lewy Body Dementia drove him to suicide. It was an enlightening documentary that shed a completely different view on his situation.
In the end, they shared an interview he did shortly after he became sober. I’ve watched it many times as it touched my heart:
‘There are a lot of amazing people out there to be grateful for and a loving God. That’s what life is about’ – Robin Williams
The only thing I would change in that statement is “cats” for people. I am eternally grateful that Kali-Ma chose me.
On a warm Houston day on New Year’s Eve in the year 2011 Kali-Ma rescued me. The angels were smiling down on me that day and every day since then.
Together we have faced many challenges and I can honestly say she knows me better than any living human being. When I cannot understand the world around me, she is always beside me until I can bear the pain or get myself out of bed.
This year we celebrate our anniversary in gratitude that we have each other through all the challenges this year. Every day is a gift and I look forward to the paw on my face each day.
Until next time….Happy Tails to you!