By Betty N.
My most beloved kitty Wilhelmina passed away back in late January. Willoo was fourteen years old, the average age of a house cat but rather short for a kitty of her petite frame, her svelte figure and her abundant energy.
Willoo had cancer seven years ago - squamous cell carcinoma to be exact, a virulent form of cancer that spreads and kills rapidly. In most cases the survival rate is close to nil. I caught Willoo's cancer very early on and splurged on her surgery. It took a full year of dutiful care before she finally recovered from that traumatic experience that left her without a lower jaw for the rest of her life, but during that time we developed an enduring bond. I looked into her eyes and would know what she wanted. I talked to her and she understood many of my words.
Willoo was actually my husband’s cat, a barn-to-city transplant who had retained all her outdoorsy nature, stalking and killing little animals and hopping from one building to another. When I met her she was a curious and cautious four-year-old, a furry and agile Maine Coon with sparkling, lime-green eyes, who sized up strangers and in most cases, rejected them. It took her months to accept me, but once she did she became quite attached. Her illness further cemented that bond as she began to follow me around the house and often demanded to sleep next to me.
The return of Willoo’s cancer was excruciating for both of us, because I was helpless as I watched her suffer. Her tumor was blocking her esophagus, gradually disabling her from swallowing food and water. The illness had returned sneakily this time without obvious signs so that I didn't catch it until it was late. Willoo’s thick fur had disguised her weight loss, and her lethargy had coincided with our move to a new apartment in Manhattan that offered less outdoor access, her favorite past time. Even had I caught the cancer earlier I wouldn't be able to save her, because the tumor was wrapped around a major artery so it was inoperable. I watched Willoo's vibrant energy draining away and her body withering from hunger and thirst, my heart decaying with it.
A quick decision was made to put her to sleep, to end her needless suffering. Even in her last hours of torment she purred as I brushed her, appreciating the love even if it could not reverse or alleviate her ordeal. She knew what was coming when the vet entered our house, mustering her last drip of energy to run and hide under the table - her intuition and intelligence never failed to impress me – yet in her final moments she was at least lying in the laps of those who loved her.
I kept Willoo's ashes when I moved to another apartment again, and on a hunch I decided to bring her with me to Peru. Willoo had always resented my traveling, she didn't like being abandoned or left alone in the house. It took her only once to understand that my "bye-bye" to her at the door meant a week of being alone in the house. Whenever she heard those ominous words thereafter her eyes would widen as she froze in her pose and watched in fear while I departed with my suitcase. Even when I came home from work or grocery shopping, she would wait by the door for me and meow in her soft soprano voice at the sound of my thumping steps on the stairs. When I packed for Peru, I looked at the little tin can containing her remains and I thought, this time I would not separate from her, this time I would take her with me. We would travel together all over Peru and bath in the positive energies of the great sites in each other’s company.
Then, one day during the trip, it was my turn for a coca leaf reading with our Incan shaman Raul. I had never done a coca leaf reading before, and I found myself running out of questions soon after the reading began. I wasn't sure if this was a valid question, but I ventured.
"Would my cat reincarnate and reunite with me?"
The rest of the world might crack up at such a question, but thankfully not Raul and Sandra (who was translating).
"No," Raul looked up from the coca leaves and said definitively. I felt a piece of rock dragging my heart and my soul down towards the core of the earth, a sense of profound loss engulfing me.
"Your love for your cat was so strong that it exceeded all the love you have ever given towards any living being. Her higher self had recognized this and her spirit has already merged with yours, it is inside your body, that is why she cannot come back to life again as a separate entity."
I was speechless.
Was Raul saying this to please me?
"Your cat did not have to die," Raul continued. "She chose to end her life early because her presence would hinder you from moving on with the big and necessary changes that must take place in your life."
I couldn't hold back my tears. Raul didn’t know anything about me, we didn’t even speak the same language. When the vet broke the news to me back in January, when I understood that there was no hope to save Willoo, I also instinctively knew that my disintegrating marriage was coming to a finale. Were Willoo still alive I would not have separated from my husband even though it was clear that I should be moving on. Just as my love and bond with Willoo was growing my marriage had been corroding over the years, yet I would be willing to stay in the marriage just to be with her, just so she would have two parents to douse her with affection. I did not realize that my love had touched her at such a profound level as to cause her tortuous pain, her early death, her self sacrifice. Nor did I ever expect that a simple, tiny creature supposedly less evolved than humans to be capable of reciprocating love in such a selfless, powerful manner.
Willoo, you should not have gone through this for me.
Willoo, I was a coward of change, I made you suffer.
Willoo, I love you very, very much, I will always love you.
"Should I bury her in Peru?" I heard myself asking. Perhaps Willoo was the reason I was down in Peru, to learn about our connection, to help her and myself in finding peace.
"Yes," answered Raul. "She should be buried in Lake Titicaca, because it is the sacred lake of feline energy. There she will rest in eternal peace."
Lake Titicaca happened to be on the group's agenda, and Sandra was very kind to organize a ceremony so I could spread Willoo's ashes into the calm and azure waters of the lake in the presence of and with the blessings of the whole group. We sailed quietly to the middle of the waters and went out on the deck. The air was calm and the sun was setting as I held Willoo's ashes to my heart one last time, thanking her for being in my life for the past ten years, for assisting me with my life changes. As I blew her ashes into the lake, as I parted with her remains, I felt relieved and assured that she and I would never be separated again, because we were already united in spirits.
Betty N lives in New York and has an interesting website "Hissess & Purrs".
I recommend you check it out. Her articles are worth reading.