Today I am going to tell you a story. One of healing, loss and self-discovery. This story dates back to 2015 but the lessons learned are still relevant.
There is music out there that has the ability to call back emotions, smells, sounds and feelings. A few notes can recreate a memory where all your senses are stimulated. In the same way, there are people or animals that come into our lives at certain times and that person or animal encompass all you are dealing with at the time.
Wollie, my rescue cat, was one of these animals.
He entered my life in a time when I had to face the fact that I most likely will not have children of my own. A time where I had to make peace with being single and what it entails. Where I was trying to finish my degree, only needing one subject that I kept on failing. A time where I was looking at closing the doors on Aknitak Creations.
My friend called me and asked if I would foster this baby. He was found in a drain pipe under a dumpster at our local shopping mall by an employee. I went straight from work to fetch him but was adamant that they need to start looking for a home for him since I was not going to keep him.
He was about two and a half weeks old, very thin and very cold. With a terrible eye and ear infection, a bad stomach, a wonky hip and flea infested. He was so thin that I was too afraid to handle him, scared of breaking his ribs and after a bath; the fight for his life began. Every hour he was given 2mils of a special concoction. Seed bags and hot water bottles were kept warm, and between me and the Husky, we kept an eye on him. He was very quiet and it scared me.
Finances were tight at the time, and kitty milk is expensive, but my friends came to the rescue, one bought the milk, another brought me some cream for his eyes and ears, another looked after him the day after I got him, when I had to go for training in another city. But on the morning of day 3, after his feed, he sat up and started licking his paws. Later on, he threw a tantrum when the Husky was doing the poo duty. At that moment I knew that he was going to be okay and this is where our adventure with Wollie began.
He needed to be fed every 3 to 4 hours, so in the mornings he got dropped off at his day mother. A friend and her 2 children looked after him for me. After work, I would rush home, fetch him and go and finish orders and make stock for the next market ( since I needed the money to pay for his vet bills; kitty milk and special food).
While I worked he would be sleeping in his basket on the table and later he would sleep on the materials on the table. At night I studied and he would sleep on my lap.
He was feisty and funny, loved the Husky and tried to befriend the Oriental. When he was bigger, the Oriental would bring him mice to teach him about hunting, but he never quite caught the drift of it, and in all his life, he only once caught a baby mouse and a mole. He kissed my nose, fetched his toys, sat for his food, came running like a dog when you called him. He would stage attacks on the dogs and I and loved eating and sleeping. He seldom went out through windows and waited for doors to be opened for him, making the sweetest little squeaks to get your attention. He would call me for bedtime around 10, and slept at my feet at night. In all the time he was with me, he never ventured further than hearing distance and I only had to shake his food bucket and he would come running.
Days rolled into months and months into years. I finished my degree and with Aknitak Creations I got the courage to make what I like and not what I think people would buy. The responsibility of looking after him gave me purpose and hope.
Until the 30th of April 2015; one month short of his 3 birthday. He was lazy as usual, sleeping on my cutting out table. At 6pm I woke him to give him a treat and told him to go play outside. By 7 I had a blinding headache. I called him and he did not come, but I was not worried because it was early, so I took the dogs and went to sleep. I woke up at 10pm and he was nowhere to be found.
The dogs and I walked the smallholding and the roads, looking for him until 3am. It was market weekend and I had to make stock, but in between, we went looking. We never found him and I do not know what happened, but I knew he was dead and my heart was broken.
He was just a cat, but he represented hope, joy and family. I was mourning his loss, but I was also mourning the things he represented.
The music his life created around me was quiet and at first, the silence threatened to drown me. But slowly the backup notes started surfacing again.
He was one instrument in my life’s symphony, and his song was the one I heard most because of where I was sitting, but by moving position I started to hear the other instruments. There were some pieces were his instrument was vital, and for a while, I would not play those, but in others, he was just a backup, and those were the ones I focus on.
I know there are some of you who have lost pets or people lately and I hope this post will encourage you.