Out-of-Touch Reading

I met with Danielle Tremblay on Sunday, from Insight With Animals. I was really excited about it. Every reading we’ve had has been so accurate and healing.

I went to a party the night before. I planned to go early and leave early. It was the birthday of a friend, and only a block away. I figured I’d have a couple of drinks, watch some fire spinning, and be in bed by midnight.

Instead, I met a boy and stayed til 5am.

I ruined my reading. I was so sick and scattered, I just couldn’t connect. The reading was more meaningful hearing it back, but even then, I was just so spiritually distant, not much could be done.

Penny usually goes crazy when we talk to Danielle. You can hear her meowing on the recording, and she lolls about seductively with her cute, blond furbody, like, “Yes! Yes! Everything I ever wanted!”

It was the same with Cricket when she was alive. She was more restrained – always  – but the look on both of their faces, right in mine, was wide-eyed wonder and excitement. “Mom can hear me!”

Not this time. Penny walked away, didn’t even participate with me. Danielle can still connect, but I couldn’t. Makes me sad.

She did tell Danielle that she doesn’t want all the interventions I’m shoving on her. (With the bronchitis, chronic vomiting, limping, and bad gums, I’m a nervous wreck.)

She especially hates the nebulizer. Really hates it. It frightens her and has a strange smell. “It’s a human device that was never meant for a cat!”

For her teeth, I thought dental wipes would be more palatable than a toothbrush, which I also tried (NO!), but Penny says, “They sting.”

She “backs up” at the idea of another cleaning, citing sensitivity to drugs, and described the vet’s methodology as proactive. Evidently, my cat prefers a conservative approach.

“Mom and I have our own way,” she explained. “We treat things as they come.”

That’s all well and good for a cat in her prime and a human with no experience of animal husbandry, but what’s coming now is worsening tooth pain or, worse, the possibility of another broken tooth and begging for immediate emergency surgery – after a night spent holding a screaming cat. Prevention is necessary.

But will she even wake up from anesthesia this time? Her heart murmur’s rated 4 out of 6. Last time it was a 3. It’s significant, and serious. It’s a real risk.

I’ve left the appointment on the books, but I have time to consider it, to worry, and discuss it with the vet. And Penny.

****

Cricket said she sometimes sits with me while I’m writing and puts her paw on my hand to stop me. It’s her belief that I need to stop “thinking, thinking, thinking” and just be. Apparently, I need to meditate.

I thought that was so cute. And true.

Cricket showed Danielle the image of her sleeping at the head of the bed with me, and acknowledged that there’s another cat there now, too.

“I like her,” Penny said. “I see her with my own physical eyes. I know she’s still here, and I don’t mind.”

Hahahahaha!

That was the best part. Penny’s very much the type of cat who deigns.

I asked Cricket if she will be there to help Penny across when her time comes. “Of course,” she answered. “Sisters help sisters.”

It didn’t seem so “of course” to me. There was a time Cricket wouldn’t leave our room, thinking Penny didn’t want her out in the house. That was a wonderful reading, our first. Danielle talked to both girls about that impression, and invited Cricket to participate in more of my life – which is, let’s admit it, basically on the couch, watching TV.

“Mom would like to see you,” Danielle told her then.

I’ll be damned if that cat didn’t walk into the living room that very night! It was amazing.

This time, Cricket reported having a clearer perspective, and I’m comforted knowing that she’ll be there with us when Penny goes to the other side.

I guess what I’m facing now is the ultimate experience of the universal inability to control outcomes. I’ve written before of what a driving force that’s been in my life. This is the biggest test to date. Penny’s almost 15. I don’t know how long, or how.

But I’ve been invited to stop thinking, thinking, thinking. 🙂

Penny’s fine. She scolded me a bit. “Don’t think of me like an old lady.”

When I talked at length about her teeth – What to do? What to do? – she said, “I’m still eating, aren’t I?”

“I just want to be left alone,” she summed up. “I want to eat what I want to eat.” (She asked for soft food, but try cleaning that vomit up!) (Danielle suggested Stella and Chewy’s. I’m going to try it, mixed in with her prescription food, which is $70 a bag!)

I still think a dental cleaning will be good for us. Her mouth will feel better. We’ll be in better stead for the future. She did mention that her immune system is improved by sunlight. Perhaps by Solstice (her birthday), Penny will be strong enough.

I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know!

Just be, Christie. That’s what Cricket thinks I need. Penny, too, I imagine. Just chill out and love my beautiful kitty. Oh, I love her so much! I miss that fat sister of hers.

hungover

hungover and hanging out after Penny’s reading

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Cricket Checked In

It was a dream in real-time. My house was different, but it was home.

My BigFatBellyCat walked in.

“Cricket!” I squealed. “You’re here!”

She walked outside. I followed. She turned the corner of the house. I followed faster. She turned again; I followed still.

On that side of the house, Penny walked up, while Cricket walked off to the left and joined some other cats.

“Oh, she’s just there,” I said to her sister.

I picked up my Penny and went inside.

It was a visitation, I know it.

I was needing it. I miss my kitty.

Conversation with Cricket

I had another session with Danielle Tremblay of Insight With Animals mainly to connect with Cricket. I checked in with Penny, too, just to make sure she likes the new apartment and to see if there’s anything more I can do for her right now.

Penny likes the new space, says it’s light and bright, and warm, safe, and comfortable. She feels like I’m not finished unpacking. In fact I am, but she complained that “all of the objects aren’t out for me to look at.” I think because we’ve had roommates for so many years now she’s used to seeing the bookshelf in my bedroom, where most of the chotchkies sit. It’s in the dining area now, the least used room in the house because I’m a bachelor and I eat dinner on the couch watching TV. They’re spread out on the mantel, as well, and throughout the shelving in the main entryway, and all over, really.

Actually, I don’t know what Penny’s talking about. I’ve downsized quite a bit, but this place is so small I feel overwhelmed at times by “visual noise,” still. My knick knacks, however, are sentimental and vital. In the last couple of moves, I’ve been strict and severe. Keep only what you cannot part with. What I kept I love and I have to see it. It’s out, on display, fussed with, futzed with, admired, enjoyed. Stuff!

Perhaps, like me, Penny is blinded by eye clutter. There isn’t a designated “place” for objet d’art, per se. It’s everywhere, scattered throughout. Maybe she’s just adjusting to the new space. It’s different from anything we’ve had. It’s compact, no question, but it’s beautiful! By far, my favorite home to date. In all my life, this is my favorite cozy abode to come back to. It’s me. It’s mine. It’s dripping with pretty, albeit a little too much of it.

It always amazes and amuses me when Danielle can tell me what my homes look like from what my cats show her. Penny likes one room in particular with a “wall of windows,” she said. “Wow! A wall of windows!” She also told Danielle that the ceilings are “very tall.” Well, yes, they are.

When we lived at Jax’s house, I asked Cricket how she liked it, and she did. She made sure to tell Danielle of another apartment she expressly did not like, showing her a narrow, dark space. “It’s true!’ I said. “I called it The Rail Car, because it was long and narrow, and it had such bad natural light that all of my plants died but one.”

Oh, Cricket.

First, she showed Danielle the image of her wrapped around me like a hug, while seated on a desk or a table. That’s exactly how we were! The exam table comes down at the vet, and I sat on a bench just below it. We were wrapped around each other, and I whispered my love to her while she purred to her last beautiful breath.

Next, Cricket gave a big sigh and told Danielle, “Mom has to know that I am so relieved.”

I knew she was. That last night was so hard. I told her a couple of times, “Don’t worry, honey. We’ll see the vet tomorrow, and you can go.”

She said, “Thank you.” She was so tired, and also, curiously, couldn’t seem to get out of her body herself, so she needed that support. “Thank you for understanding.”

Then I was scared that maybe I’d waited too long, that I shouldn’t even have made her suffer the ups and downs of never quite finding our stable dose, but for those last several weeks. Of course, she had told Danielle back then that she was content to stay in body while we sorted it out, even though she felt lousy.

Danielle reassured me that I hadn’t waited too long. “I’m glad that you tried,” Cricket said. “It would have been a bit of a shock to go sooner.”

“She loved being with you in the physical, and she continues to love being with you now,”  Danielle told me, adding that she sits on the bed near my head.

That’s where she slept.

Penny reported that she’s on the ottoman sometimes, too, next to the bed.

That’s how she got in bed, and she sat there often. It was hers.

Cricket told me that Penny needs extra TLC, even though she’s acting normal. She’s still adjusting and needs extra attention. Danielle reported that Penny didn’t go through a period of mourning. She understood that Cricket was sick, and she intuited and understood everything that was going on.

“This is what happens,” Penny said. She did agree, though, that quiet time is “extra quiet” without Cricket’s physical presence.

I asked Danielle if she could tell me about the days immediately following Cricket’s passing, and you’ll never guess. She tapped into that dream! I woke up with a feeling of her on my chest – and with a cat that girthy, it was unmistakably Cricket – and remembered her biting me in my dream. Cricket told Danielle that the bite was so I would know it was real, and that’s exactly what made it real for me! It was so physical and tangible, I couldn’t dismiss it as my imagination.

Danielle complimented Cricket on how well she got my attention. 🙂

I asked about the song, and Cricket’s reply was interesting. She didn’t send it. It was from the general universe. Of course it was! I believe in a random and loving Universe, and I see signs and magic every day. Of course someone had my back on such a day, losing my big fat belly cat.

I still marvel at the lyrics of that song, the timing of it starting – first strum of the first note – just as I turned the engine, and especially that it was a new to me. Having never known the words, I heard Cricket’s voice.

It felt as though she was speaking directly to me. I could feel her right next to me, separated by a millisecond. I could see what she must be newly experiencing, “standing at the center of time as it uncurls.”

It will forever remain one of the most miraculous things I’ve experienced.

Danielle validated Cricket amplifying the volume of crickets I heard in the evenings after she passed. She told Danielle, “I chirp,” and showed an image of a megaphone. It’s true! The crickets were louder in the days following her passing. I haven’t been in my home long enough to grow numb to the sounds of it, but already that chorus is quieter than those first astounding nights. It was deafening!

Danielle was quite amazed herself by the moments Cricket and I were describing, and Cricket said to her, “Well, it’s all real, Danielle!”

“I don’t doubt that it’s real,” she chuckled.

Cricket told her she knows that most people don’t often believe or understand.

Cricket also told Danielle that sometimes humans who are in distress at the passing of another “almost un-gel” from their bodies. According to Cricket, that’s why Penny sat on me like she did those first three mornings. If I hadn’t had to get up, she’d have stayed there all day. Normally, she’d wake me and then head straight for her food after a cuddle and a kiss or two. I love her for holding me.

It’s so Penny to do so. In our first meeting with Danielle, Penny said it was her job to care for the grounds, to sweep energy. She did “rounds” several times a day, walking through every room but one in Jax’s house. (That was a curious detail to get right.)

I’ve always called her The Queen. I teased her that it’s all hers, everything under the sun. In fact, it’s hers because it’s her job. She’s proud of her work and takes it seriously.

I’m glad it’s her job to take care of me. Oh, Penny. You started it all, this feline magic.

Danielle was so supportive and validating. She said that the three of us are co-creating all of this together, and we have a beautiful connection that she appreciated witnessing.

I’m so grateful for her. It was everything I wanted and more.

Cricket’s paw print arrived just days before the reading, perfectly cricky, just like her.

Cricket's paw print

At first glance, I didn’t like it. You can tell she’s not pushing back and her claws are wonky. It quickly grew on me. It suits her. She was always just a little “off.” She reminds me of my disheveled high school English teacher, whose slip was always showing. Oh, my sweet Cricket.

Nightsong

It’s been a week without my little Cricket. While she was alive, I’d kiss and sweet-talk her during the night – when I could hear the crickets singing – and tell her how she got her name. I met her at 12-hours old, writhing and squeaking with her litter of mostly black sisters (and one gray tabby 😉 ).

I was smitten instantly. There’s something so enchanting about a black cat!

There were two, The Twins, we called them. Then there was Boots, and she was hard to pass up. Pretty little tuxy with 3 white boots and one sloppy stocking falling down her ankle. One day she was standing in the kitchen in the sunlight and her little whiskers were white, glowing in the hot sun! I was close to choosing her that day.

But I knew I wanted my little black kitty cat, and I knew her name was Cricket. I don’t know why, but they just looked and sounded like little bugs writhing in the night when I first saw them, and my kitty’s name was Cricket.

For several weeks, I went to my friend’s house and played with them. One day, one twin jumped up on the bed. I asked her, “Are you Cricket?” and held her to my face. She meowed in reply, the highest, silliest little mew you ever heard!

Right after her, the other twin followed. “Or are you Cricket?” I picked her up.

When she answered, my heart sang! “Rawwwr.”

It couldn’t even be called a meow! It was just a squeak, higher than her sister’s or any kitten call I’d heard before. In my mind, I could see the fine hairs of a cricket’s wings rubbing together to make that scratchy, chirping melody.

We locked eyes, and it was her! She was my Cricket!

I ran to my friend. “I can tell them apart! This is Cricket! This is my Cricket!”

The next week, I went over and my friend asked, “Which one is Cricket again?”

I picked them each up, made eye-contact, and answered. “Her.”

“Good.” He and his girlfriend smiled conspiratorially.

“Why?” I asked.

The girlfriend picked Cricket up and showed me a patch of tiny white hairs that had popped up on her belly that week. Not a white spot, just 3-5 hairs. They considered that a flaw. She wasn’t pure black.

She was perfect!

Even after I claimed her, even after I “met” her, eye to eye, I tried to talk myself out of taking her home. My boyfriend teased me daily. “Just because you’ve gone koo koo kitty crazy doesn’t mean you need two.”

“You’re right. Of course, you’re right. I don’t need two cats! Penny’s happy and so am I.” But my family was incomplete without my baby Cricket.

We were a fine trio.

****

Penny searched for her all day Monday. She looked to me with searching eyes, round like saucers, needing an answer, meowing, meowing, searching, meowing.

“I know, honey. Your sissy’s crossed the bridge. She’s all better now, but we don’t get to see her anymore. You don’t have to worry anymore.”

And she sure was sweet. Penny was always good at affection, but oh, she was gooey Monday night. And every morning we awoke in the old place, she was on me. That’s normal, except that it used to be that I’d wake and pet and kiss her a bit, and she’d jump off. Time for food, and getting my day started. Now, she’d stay on me all day if I let her.

****

This was a busy, wonderful week. I was glad not to put Crick through the stress of moving. In my mind, it was a short one-mile car ride to the new place. Cats hate cars. I thought that would be the only challenge for them. I forgot that before we move, my stuff had to move! It was a lot of banging, cleaning, flux, fear, noise. It was stressful on my Penny. Cricket was too sick for that.

I feel peace in my decision. I’m happy I let her go as soon as she began to suffer.

She was really sick for 4 days, and then she was free.

I miss my kitty.

During those 4 days of illness, I asked her to come to me in the nightsong of crickets. She does! She really does!

You know how you get used to the sounds of your own house and neighborhood, and stop hearing them? Well, that first night without her, last Monday, for some ungodly reason I was cold!

It’s a hundred degrees in July, and 75 at night! I never turn my fan off. It’s attached to my headboard and blows on me in my almost-nothing tank top and no covers, and still I sweat through the night. For heaven’s sake, I was cold!

I put on proper jammies, pulled the covers over me, and still I was cold. At last, I turned off the fan and heard… crickets!

“Hi, fat kitty!”

The next day was Pie ‘n’ Beer Day. (Pioneer Day, if you’re a good Mormon; The rest of us get drunk.) I went to a BBQ at the neighbors across the street of my new place. In his big backyard, with old, established trees and thicket, the crickets were deafening!

The next day, I was bringing boxes over to the new place. Molly, my landlord and friend since 2009, was having dinner and drinks out back with the neighbor, who had brought leftovers. Molly had Pandora pumping through the outdoor speakers. I went inside to fill a plate and heard a cricket! A single, solitary cricket so loud it had to be inside!

“Is there a cricket in here?!” I exclaimed to myself. “Oh my god, Christie, enough!”

I went outside and said nothing of it. I’m losing my mind!

And there it was again and again and again, blasting through the speaker!

“What the hell is that?!” I demanded at last. “I’m haunted! I’m hearing crickets!”

“That’s my phone,” Molly answered. “Chris keeps texting tonight.”

How is it that I’ve never heard Molly’s phone before, and she had it connected to the speaker, of all things! Night after night after night, my sweet Cricket comes to me in a new way. “Mom, I’m here. You asked me to come, and I did.”

I dreamed of her Wednesday! She was only 2 days gone. It was a very physical dream, with weight and body. I could feel her. She bit me, hard. She liked to nibble my arm while I petted her, like she was grooming me for little vermin or something. It never hurt, of course, her little love nips. That’s what she did in this dream, only hard.

It didn’t hurt at all or break the skin, but it was a fantastic, dream-variety bite that I could FEEL. She’s with me. I knew that’s what she wanted me to know from that dream.

And then I was finished moving, sitting alone on my beautiful back patio, illuminated in the dark, listening to the nightsong of my new home. It’s so loud and melodious, the music of crickets here. It’s a beautiful place to sit and reflect on our lives together, to heal from the loss of her physical companionship, and celebrate our spiritual relationship.

She’s with me forever, I can trust that! I guess there was a part of me that feared I wouldn’t feel her or know if I felt her, or give myself permission to feel her.

I couldn’t hide from her if I wanted to!

“Sing our song at night, honey. Make me hear you.”

Boy, does she!

“Thank you, sweet girl. You always were a very good kitty.”

I miss my Cricket.

cricket's memorial

Cricket’s Memorial on the mantel of the fireplace of my new home. She’ll be with me by the fire, after all. Sept. 11, 2004 ~ July 23, 2018

From old, established trees and thicket
Sings the song of my sweet Cricket 

That couplet happened quite accidentally in the prose above. 🙂

Oh, my Cricky. How I love you.

patio

Welcome to Christie’s Corner! (Finally, a place to display my Queen of Hearts caricature from the set of Guys & Dolls, haha!)

Penny explores the new house, luxuriates all over. She’s out-of-place yet, but I think it was wise, quite by accident, to move so quickly after Cricket’s passing. There’s no reason to search for her in our new home. She was never here to be missed.

She is talking more, it seems. Penny was always vocal, but she has a lot to say right now. Out of place? Is she asking about her sissy?

“It’s just the two of us, honey. You don’t even remember when it was the two of us.”

Penny started limping a couple of months ago. It comes and goes, and she’s still jumping to and from tall perches. I hoped it was just an ache. We’ve earned a rheumatism now and then. 2 weeks ago, it became worrisome to watch.

I was prepared for Cricket to go. I didn’t expect to her to live to old age. Her whole life, she was sick with random, bizarro this-n-that. Penny, I never thought as mortal!

I have a sense of panic in the pit of my stomach. I’m trying to release it. It’s okay to be scared. With Cricket’s traumatic illness and passing, of course I’m raw and frightened.

But I never prepared myself for Penny’s mortality. It never even crossed my mind. I’m not ready to face the inevitable: Penny’s advanced elderly.

She sees the doc on Thursday.

“You’re my old kitty now, honey. My Pretty Penny. We’re old women, you and me.”

Little Black Magicat

Cricket’s at peace, and so am I.

Yesterday, Cricket told me she doesn’t need to come with us to the new house.

I regret not realizing my dream of holding her by the fire. I imagine she’ll be there with me sometimes, but there’s nothing like the furry, warm body of a big fat belly cat.

I walked to my car in a daze with her empty carrier. I turned the engine to hear John Florence announce the time. (He’s the only host on KRCL to do that.) 9:11, her birthday.

I got on the freeway, directly behind a license plate beginning with 999 – end of a cycle – as the song that started when I turned the key began its opening lyric.

Sliding on the shimmering surface between two worlds
Standing at the center of time as it uncurls
Cutting through the veil of illusion
Moving beyond past conclusions
Rendering all doubt and confusion clear

If I could be anywhere
If I could be anywhere
If I could be anywhere right now
I would want to be here

– Jackson Browne

cricket's pillow

She had a beautiful, peaceful passing on her pillow in my arms. She purred the whole time. I buried my face in her neck and told her how much I love her. “You’re a good kitty.”

saying goodbye

Sept. 11, 2004 ~ July 23, 2018

Sinte

I started drumming a of couple years ago to fill the void that leaving African dance left. The community is so joyful and supportive that I forced my body to “fight through it” far longer than Fibromyalgia wanted me to.

When I left African, I felt like a failure. I was lazy, something was wrong with me – something else, something real, something wanting in my nature, not my body. My body was always strong. I’m young. If I “can’t” do it, it’s because I’m not eating right. I’m still partying. I’m just not talented enough.

Yes, that’s all true. I’d be better at African if I’d stop all those things, but I could still rally. African dance wore me so bare, I was my authentic self. I didn’t want to let it go.

So I drum now, to keep my tie with the community. There’s just something about it that keeps me coming back for more, even when I’m not very good at it. It’s happy, and it feels good to brave failure. I can’t think of anything else I’ve found where I don’t demand perfection from myself. I’m excited by success and improvement, but I don’t need it.

It’s nice to enjoy something something authentically.

I started belly dancing. I think that’s the recipe. Drum for African dance. Move my body elsewhere, somewhere gentler, more lyrical, equally challenging. Belly dance is the perfect fit, and there’s so much room for me to level up!

I give myself permission to have autoimmune disease.

Today, we played Sinte in class. We don’t do that often, and I’m not that good. Drumming is hard! I go for the simplest background rhythm and hold on for dear life.

But Quinn pushed me. “You know this!”

“Okay!” I agreed. It was deep down somewhere, back when I was taking lessons.

I know this!

I remembered the dance. I could feel it in my body, and I did remember once – long ago – learning the rhythm in Quinn’s class.

By damn, I figured it out! It was a huge high, and I barely held on. I did well enough that when I fell off the beat, he harassed and teased me. (If I sucked utterly, he’d correct me and continue to lead.) I laughed a lot today.

It was a great break from the pain of Cricket’s emergency 2 days ago.

Cricket is at the end of her life. Of course I know that. She’s 14 years old in September, OBESE, and sick with random everything all her life, that sweet alien. A respectable, healthy feline life is 12-15 years. She’s given everything she has.

I have a vision. Perhaps it’s selfish. I just want to keep my little kitty until the first cold snap. I want to build a fire in our forever home, their last home, and cuddle with them by the fire. I want to love my girls by the hearth of our home.

After that, whenever she’s ready to go, I’m ready, too. I want Lap of Love to put her gently to sleep on her own pillow, while I thank her for spending her unexpectedly long life with me. Please don’t die under my bed tonight, in pain and frightened, blind from ketoacidosis. Let me hold you in my arms by the fire.

“Thank you for being my baby. Thank you for being my teacher. Thank you for being my best friend. Thank you making me a mother. Thank you for teaching me love.”

I feel guilty. I can see that she’s tired. She used to be so grabby, I had to be careful not to get scratched when I took my hand away from a long spell of affection and sweet talk. Now, all the the strength she has to give is the flick of her tail. And she gives it.

She gave me her everything.

Hold on, sweet love. I’m not asking for long. I know you’re ready to go.

Please give me a cold snap of weather. I want to snuggle by the fire.

My Cricket is dying. cricket in the er

cricket in the er 2

best shot of her perfect cricky ear ❤

Oh Happy Day!

Cricket stabilized!

Happy summer! My little black magicat is healthy again!

Five was the magic number. I knew it almost immediately. Something about the way she moved was… brighter, stronger. I really can’t say what it was, but I knew. I started asking her 2 days after another insulin increase,”Was 5 the magic number? Are you all better? I think it is! Five is the magic number!”

By the time her next expensive appointment rolled around (every 2 weeks for 2 months!), I wasn’t as sure. She’s still drinking a massive amount of water. Despite that, her glucose is in the healthy range, and we are left with instructions to watch her and test again in 6 months.

The vet said she was feisty today, hooray! She has fight, energy, spirit! Now Cricket hisses when they poke her, but she still purrs as soon as she’s petted. She’s the sweetest kitty in the world, and she’s healthy!

Happy day! Happy summer!

Oh my gosh! It’s Penny birthday today! She’s 14. Cricket will be, too, on Sept. 11th.