Our Home Feels A Bit Empty This Morning

Our cat, Rasta, moved on from this physical world Sunday evening. It was not a surprise. She had been fading for the past few months, and in the last week it became clear that she was moving out of this physical world.

The swirl of emotions that Rasta’s passing has stirred up in me has been a bit surprising. In less than 48 hours I have run the spectrum from sadness and guilt all the way up to relief and joy. It’s amazing that such a small creature can have such a large impact.

Even though my wife had found her, abandoned and scared, a few months before we met, Rasta was really my cat. I remember the first time I visited Melissa in Phoenix and Rasta would barely take a step inside the house. By the time I left, she was actually letting me pet her for a few minutes before scampering outside again.

Over the course of the next few months, as my relationship with Melissa deepened, so did my connection with Rasta. And as she discovered that she could trust us, her true, deeply loving nature came out. She would sit in our laps, purring or sleeping, while we watched movies or talked on the couch.

Watching Rasta settle back into a space of trust and love was highly rewarding, although I sense that she never quite returned to the same level of trust that she probably had with her first family.

As I write this, I realize that Rasta’s abandonment and my adoption may have created a special bond between us, one that engendered trust and a deep connection.

And then Ella came along. It’s been said that when a child joins a family the pets take a back seat. And as I look back on the past 3 ½ years, this is where my sense of guilt and regret comes in.

I realize that I did abandon Rasta. Not by leaving her behind when we moved, or forgetting to feed her, but by dramatically decreasing the attention and love that I showed her after the arrival of my daughter.

Admittedly, it would have been much easier to continue nurturing Rasta if she had been a bit less reactive. From the time that Ella was born, Rasta expressed her displeasure with the situation by constantly peeing in Ella’s room, becoming increasingly more finicky about what she would eat, and just generally being aloof.

As I look back I can see that we got ourselves into a cycle of disconnection. My attention shifted to Ella. Rasta reacted by peeing in Ella’s room. I got upset and disconnected further. Rasta became more aloof. And on it went.

It’s not so different from the patterns of protection that we create in our relationships with other humans!

But that doesn’t make it any easier to recognize that I could have broken the cycle by reconnecting with Rasta. I did try, but it never seemed to be enough for Rasta and, with the added responsibility of fatherhood, I just could not create enough time to make it enough for her. If I went to Rasta’s corner and sat down to love on her, she would often get up and walk away, almost defiantly daring me to follow her.

So in the last few days of her life, when she could do nothing more than make weak little mewing sounds and roll over where she was laying, it felt good to reconnect with her. I would lay there with her and scratch her head and neck. And she would push her head into my fingers, moving her head to help me find just the right spot.

It felt as if we were both remembering the love that had connected us in the beginning. Rasta no longer had the energy to put up her walls and resist my affection. And I made the time to lay there on the floor and reconnect.

In the end, Rasta passed quietly and peacefully on her own. I was upstairs, putting Ella to bed (ironically).

Rasta

Here is Rasta “playing” with one of Ella’s toys. She discovered that she could push on the buttons and make them talk or play music. I swear she knew which one was the cat button and pushed it more than the others. I don’t think I ever heard her push the dog button. But that could have been a coincidence!

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      7 Responses to “Our Home Feels A Bit Empty This Morning”

      1. Aaron M. Potts on June 5th, 2007 7:18 pm

        Ed,

        I am confused about what to do in these circumstances, because my belief (and I imagine yours) is that we are all part of the same energetic field, so no life form is ever really gone.

        On the other hand, those words don’t bring a lot of comfort at a time like this, so I’ll just express my sincere Gratitude that you and Rasta had those last few days of quality time together. I’ve been with pets near the end before, and the emotional bond during that time is as strong as it is heart-breaking.

        We have 2 cats of our own who I love dearly, and another half dozen or so who “live” around our house since we started feeding them, and they are all a part of our lives now as well.

        Rasta was blessed to have you and your family, Ed.

        – Aaron

        p.s. – Before I could send this comment, my cat Neo jumped up on my desk to send his love, too! 🙂

      2. Edward Mills on June 6th, 2007 2:36 pm

        Thanks Aaron. I appreciate your thoughts. And thanks as well to Neo! I know that Rasta appreciates that!

      3. Kara-Leah Masina on June 16th, 2007 7:30 pm

        My two cats are barely more than kittens, and it amazes me still how much love flows between us.

        It’s incredible that love like this can exist between animals and humans, and that animals can feel so strongly when we neglect or abandon them….

        And yet they do.

        I loved this article… thank you. It makes me want to go and find my cats right now and give them a big hug.

      4. Edward Mills on June 18th, 2007 7:01 pm

        Kara-Leah: That bond is truly incredible and such an amazing opportunity to learn and grow and deepen our human relationships. I know that my experience with Rasta has taught me far more than I have yet to fully grasp!

      5. Kara-Leah Masina on June 18th, 2007 7:26 pm

        It does call into question our basic assumptions about the consciousness of animals when we witness the love (and associated emotions like jealousy or abandonment…) they can express.

      6. Edward Mills on June 23rd, 2007 10:15 am

        Kara-Leah: I have no doubt as to the depth of consciousness animals carry. Rasta was especially tuned in to the energy in our home. She was sensitive and, I believe, aware of what was happening on a much deeper level than we humans were most of the time!

      7. Kara-Leah Masina on June 24th, 2007 11:58 am

        Hey Edward,

        You might be interested in this article by Slade at Shift your Spirits about animals as spirit guides.

        http://sladeroberson.com/angels/familiars-angels-with-fur.html

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