I have a tiger cat who lounges on the floor of my office or purrs in my lap when I write. She has the most gorgeous markings: black stripes on tawny fur, sand colored chin, pale emerald eyes. As a kitten, she was taken from the wild, prematurely separated from her feral mother. Her occasional skittishness tells me that she carries her early loss with her like a permanent scar.
When I was a child, I had a dalmatian puppy. He used to lick my face, nip at my fingers, and then fall asleep on my chest as I lay on the couch watching TV. Then one day, still a puppy, he died unexpectedly. I was crushed beyond reason . . . completely inconsolable. I still feel the sting of that abandonment; I too carry my early loss with me like a permanent scar.
And now here we are — my domesticated wild cat and me. We’ve both made the transition to new homes and new families, moving on even as we have been imprinted and shaped by early loss. As I stroke her sweet head, I feel such a tenderness and compassion toward all the grieving inner kittens and inner children of this world.
I keep a ball of yarn on hand for when she is feeling playful. She startles as I toss the ball in her direction. She recovers . . . stretches her paw out to grab it, then seizes it with gusto and curls her body around the ball. I smile as I watch, our hearts healing each other. The sadness of grief fades to the background and, joyfully, we both savor the moment.
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