March 9, 2001 a little kitten came into this world. She was wild, not quite feral, but almost. It appears that she had kitten-hood trauma from dogs, nothing violent, but unpleasant for her. Her first caretaker was Indy Roberts in Gunnison, CO. They were together for 5 years. Then she came to me. I don’t know what made me say yes, but I knew it was a yes. I had met Emerald and I really liked. And Indy had called to ask if I would take her. Emerald was very unhappy living with dogs, of which there were at least one at all times she’d been with Indy. Emerald would just army-crawl from room to room; slinking in and out. She would rip the shit out of a toilet paper roll, she would start crying early in the morning. Indy thought she could be happier, somewhere else, and with me.
I’m shocked I said yes because I was anti-commitment in so many ways. My mom had tried to buy me a computer for a long time as a gift and I said “no-way”. I didn’t want to lug that thing around from place to place and I didn’t want to pay for any upkeep or maintenance. I was very restrictive with money in college, in certain areas. So an animal?! That’s alive and will be alive for awhile?? I had several friends in college that had dogs and I was very clear about what that took. So again, I was shocked I said yes. I was living in Crested Butte at the time, at Genevieve’s place. This is one of the best spots to live in CB. Perched right atop the town, but surrounding by country or meadows or whatever they call country in the mountains. With a view of the whole area. There was nothing like it in CB. I was living there and I knew I would be able to have a cat. Emerald loved it. She got to believe that she was wild cat, living on her own, leaping through the meadows, tracking her prey. It was here, in fact, that she got her only prey. A baby mouse that she then proceeded to bring in to the house, not fully dead, and release it. I didn’t find it way later til it began to smell and this disgusting 6-inch diameter mold fuzz ball had grown around it. I have NEVER seen anything like that to this day.
I loved her then but not like I did later. There’s a lot I realize now looking back.
Emerald became Emmy and then Kitty. Kitty transitioned on to the other world August 17, 2017. It came on very quick but then with a little hindsight we see that it made sense. About two years ago we almost lost her. She got hit with an infection and almost died. We used antibiotics and fluids and she turned around in a matter of 24 hrs. We now believe that there was a weakness showing itself in her kidneys at that point. And that the two years after that were her last hurrah. She was never quite 100% after that. We three enjoyed a great life together for those two years but we see that it was the gift we were looking for this time. We were thinking, “Alright, we will try antibiotics and fluids and see if she has another go in her. Just a little more time with her.” But the previous two years were that. And we realized that quickly. We were not going to do “wasting away”. We were not doing palliative care. We were not compromising quality of life. Just two years before, a year even, I could not even turn my head towards a physical reality without her in it. I realized in the midst of her transitional period, ‘Oh. I get it. You get to that place when you see them suffering. That’s how you become ready.’ No matter my pain, to see her suffering prepared me for whatever I needed to do.
And we knew she was not afraid to go and she was not sad about leaving cat life behind.
My brother, Aaron, had lost his long time companion, Cooper, last year. And he’s a nurse. I asked him to help, anything he could tell me, as we were on our way to the vet. He shared this:
“Nothing makes it easier. But try to think of it as you are doing your friend a favor. I have seen a lot of deaths and the hardest ones are the ones who have fought so hard and lost. The great ones are when everyone has the best interest of the patient. Death sucks but once it’s over you can start the grieving process. Try to do something you love today and not think about how sad you are that you lost her but how grateful you are that you had her for so long.”
We were there when that precious little life force left the vessel of her cat body. Jeff felt her join with his spirit. I felt agony. My mind has tried to torture me with those memories. Put them in my face over and over. But I refuse, and it has become less and less. We immediately went to get food. Heeding Aaron’s advice, we were going to take extra, special, gentle care of ourselves. And we had not been eating proper all week. Lost our appetite mostly. Small gifts, it was still breakfast at Whole Foods. Bacon and potatoes was maybe the only thing I could imagine eating right then. I had told Jeff to “drive to nature, wide open” because I knew we needed that. I knew that nature would hold us and help heal us. We were texting with all our loved ones, they too were holding us up. Here’s one from Dr Hemerson (Kitty’s doctor):
“Thank you for letting us (him and Bev, his partner) be a part of it. [I] Keep getting this soaring energy. [To Kitty:] Thankful for all the love you shared. Soar in Peace, Emerald!”
Jeff took us to a reservoir in Lafayette (CA). It was perfect. Wide open and with a big body of water. We sat and ate and cried. Then we walked, a few miles. Stopping to rest and take in the views. Sit on the dock. It was a respite. We were there a few hours then decided to head home. This was pure agony. Everything was Kitty. Huge tidal wave of grief and loss. Just crippled by it. I lost my will to live in that moment. I did not see a reason to live. I had no idea how much space she occupied in my heart and in my life. I wanted to throw everything away: all my clothes, anything that reminded us of her. I wanted out of this life.
Jeff and I both were exhausted and layed down to try and sleep. We just held each other. There was no sleeping, just agony and tears. But we tried. We layed there for at least 30 mins and I prayed out loud for help. I knew we were lost and in deep up to our necks. Jeff said, “Well this is working. I need to do something. How about we put up those shades on the windows?” I said, “Now? Well…okay. Yeah. We’ve wanted that done for months”. So we cried and took down our stupid, god-awful mini-blinds. Then installed the new roll-down shades. Then I had a thought, ‘She is with me and we can never be apart. We are one and we can never be apart.’ ‘Yes’, I thought, ‘This is what I believe.’ All my teachers (Yogananda, Jesus, Conversations with God) tell us to not do this to ourselves. Do not make yourselves suffer. There is no “loss” there is no “gone”. We are one and you can never be apart from the whole. This is, in fact, all the things I’d been reading coming into a real-life-my-life-depends-on-it scenario. I had intellectually understood that I was just an extension of the Divine. Like a finger on a hand connected to a body that was the One. All of human suffering was believing that we were a part from the whole. I had confronted this existential crisis many times in my life, even at a young age: Wanting to go “home”. Devastated that I was here in this world and not where I belonged.
So, here, was the opportunity. And oh what a time. What a blessing in disguise. A chance to embrace this Golden Truth and save my self from the agony I was experiencing right in that moment. Like an answer to my prayer from earlier, “Emily, please do yourself this kindness. Take this opportunity to realize that Kitty is with you and can never be apart from you”. And in that moment, I reached out and grabbed it, like a lifesaver.
It was like a switch was flipped for Jeff and me. We got up and got busy. We both later realized that almost immediately we knew the trailer was not needed. It would go. It was for her. It was for us as a family; three. As a part of this new revelation, I started to talk to Kitty. Inside myself and outloud. So did Jeff. I saw her with me in a physical form: walking behind me, sitting on her usual perch, and sleeping lazily in the back of the truck when I was driving. I also saw her move from that physical form to what is, I guess, her spiritual form. When she was in that, she was every where. Especially at first. Just like Dr. Hermerson had said, I got the sense of that soaring but more bouncing. Like a little fairy that just got its wings after losing them. She was in pure joy. And rather than miss her, look at her old spot and just sob because she’s not there, I would see her there. I started to pull out all her belongings. The litter box: “Well we can get rid of this! You always hated this thing. And of course you did, who wants to go in this box? And it would stink. I’m happy to get rid of this for you. You have no need for these things now. You’re free! Free of all those confinements.” I didn’t want to create waste where I didn’t have to. I knew this could go to a shelter or a pet owner. The carrier: “We only used this to take you to the vet at the end. This is basically new, this will be of good use to someone else”. Her bowls: Jeff and I both wanted to throw them away. So we did. We also threw away pillows that I hated that we used for her. When I looked at her outside spot: “I see you there. Now we don’t have to worry about your body. We don’t have to worry about you at all but you’re still with us. And you don’t have to be burdened by our anxiety. It’s win-win!”
And then the gifts started to present themselves. The gifts from Kitty. We realized that her physical presence was “holding us back” from things we wanted to do. She had made the decision to go. She said, “Here, let me do this for you! This body means nothing. I’m done here. You’re ready.” And we were in awe. We also plainly saw the path of guilt and suffering. Almost as clear as I would see a path in the woods. It was gently tugging at me saying, ‘You wanted her dead. You wanted her to pass on. She gave it to you because you hurt her, she didn’t want to be a burden’. By the grace of god, and experience with my own nature I could say this to myself, ‘We know that we are not made of bad stuff. You offered Kitty your closest approximate of unconditional love you’ve ever shown. You never took it out on her when she peed on the floor, over and over. You showed her your most devotional love. This situation was so stressful for us. You knew she was suffering and you were also suffering. Yes, she did this for us. She did it with ease and joy. And we will take it in the spirit with which it is given’. So to Kitty, I said, “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. You are my darling baby and we will never be apart. I know you are with me. Now you can come on all our adventures!”
We ran out of energy soon that day, because as you know, grief is hard work. Jeff and I came together again and shared our thoughts and experiences of that day. Here were some realizations:
- Kitty was “the reason we couldn’t do things”. Laughable. Now that she was not in her physical form, I could tell that we had still wanted her to be there to keep us from our next step. Because with it removed I felt bare. Scared. Exhilarated. Buzzy.
- Jeff shared something similar. “I spent so much time worrying about her, caring for her, like I needed it.” I felt the same. It gave us a place to put that energy.
- Also, this step of living in the trailer, prepared us for ALL the things coming next. Like: getting down to a back pack. Like selling the trailer. Like selling the truck. The ability to see an opportunity in New Zealand, Australia, Europe, HAWAII, and just take it.
It’s hard now, as I write, to capture the awe, tenderness, gratitude and wonder I felt in the days after. It’s already changing to other things. Like, momentum.
Her passing ripped my heart wide open. I felt so raw and tender. I thanked her for this. I felt love so deeply. In my first meditation/prayer to her (I can’t remember which) in which I asked her something like, “What will I do??” she responded, “I am everywhere. You already see me in everything.” This was true!!! For years I had seen Kitty in almost every animal I saw in nature or otherwise. Like, ‘Look at those chubby little birds! They look like Kitty.’ So many things reminded me of her. What a gift! I was already prepared without knowing it.
A few more things I realized from my life with her:
- She is probably the only child I will ever have. The closest I will get to knowing that, in this life, in this body.
- She waited patiently for me. When I had less thought and energy to offer her. She was with me through my love addiction, at its worst. I’m amazed at the friends that stood by me through this, much less someone/thing that had to depend on me and live with me through it. I have done what many parents do: blame the kids bad behavior on the kid and not me. Not seeing that her anxiety her combativeness was a direct reflection of the bad energy I was putting out. When I understood that, she changed. I changed. We bonded in that forever.
Big Realization from Jeff and Me:
When Kitty physically transitioned, on Aug 17th, we were faced with what we thought we “lost” and what we “didn’t have”. So I asked myself, ‘what did we believe she brought to us?’ That was: sweetness, innocence, bottomless natural love, magic, devotion (both ways), wonder, and joy. I realized to myself and to Jeff, “We have to realize these things in our self. We have to embody these things ourselves. We were never without but we thought we were. That’s the pain we feel now, to believe that we have lost all of those things vital to our souls. We have to be that for ourselves and be that to each other”.
Another gift from Kitty: She helped provide what we thought we didn’t have and she left it to us to do only just when we were ready to try it for ourselves. We were scared. What if I fail at this? I need to love Jeff the way I loved Kitty. Hell, I need to love myself the way I loved Kitty. With devotion.
That brings me to today. Willing to be alive. Willing to move forward. And just giddy, actually, at what will come next.
Emerald Kitty Eby-Parrish, you changed my life. You are with me, And we can never be apart.