life of m

Sustaining the Self and Beyond


The cat came back!

I wrote a few days ago about my husband and my rescue attempt of a cat we found in the woods near our house in Boitsfort. The cat appeared to be young because it was so small. When we saw it, was walking along a back road next to an international school in our neighborhood. We called to it, as we like to greet all the cats we meet on our walks, and it immediately crawled underneath a fence and ran ahead along a trail that paralleled the road.


As we came closer, my husband noticed that it had its collar wrapped around it neck and front leg. He called it from the road, but it didn’t respond. I climbed/crawled over the fence and walked slowly toward the cat, crouching down intermittently to call it. I figured that perhaps we could coax it toward one of us if we both approached slowly from two sides. What wound up happening was that the cat came running toward me each time I knelt on the ground. He (I deemed it a he because it seemed to have male energy—don’t ask me how, I just sensed it. My husband calls it my “witchy sense”) would nuzzle his nose, head, and body against my legs and then dash off the second I moved even the slightest bit.


I convinced my husband to toss his t-shirt over the fence near me, waited for kitty to come back to my lap, and ever so slowly wended by body around to be able to scoop him up in it.


Kitty did not smell good. In fact, he smelled like rotting death. His energy and spirits were high, though, and he allowed me to carry him back to our house, where I cleaned him up while he purred nonstop over two bowls of dry food (croquettes en français). We spent some quality time in the small area between the front door and the rest of the house. My husband had closed the set of doors opposite the front door in order to create a small, safe place that would be separate from our two cats. When I opened the door to let the cat out to explore a little, he was not happy about meeting our larger male cat, Fin and lasted only a few minutes before bounding out the front window, which my husband had opened to try to air out the death smell from our small house.


I was beside myself, especially after we visited the owner, who had posted flyers all over the neighborhood nearly two months earlier when the cat first disappeared. We showed her the collar and explained what had happened. She was so thankful we had found him, but I felt heartbroken that we had lost him again.


My husband explained to me that each animal is on its own path, and I tried to convince myself each night as I lay in bed that he would be ok. My dad was a doctor and said that animals generally do a pretty good job of cleaning their wounds. I woke up each morning after nightmares about trying to catch the cat. He had a pretty serious, raw wound where his front right leg was supposed to be attached to his body but the collar had caused a separation from so much rubbing.


I spent Saturday, Sunday, and Monday returning to the place where we had found the cat (who turned to indeed be a male called Elio). I brought food with me and shook the container, calling out in English and French to Elio to come with me and that I wouldn’t force him to live indoors but that I thought he would benefit from medical attention, which I was happy to provide for him.


Monday night, we heard a knock on our door. I opened the door to find the owner, who immediately informed me that she had found the cat! I was so shocked I just there, instantly feeling an emotional meltdown coming on.


I invited the owner in, and she proceeded to tell us how she had gone back to the house she had recently moved from and found the cat there. She had been looking there when he first disappeared but then stopped because she gave up hope that he might still be alive. When we told her we had found and lost him, she went back, and there he was. The vet had told her that he weighed less than a kilo and would not have survived beyond a week with the infection and gangrene inside his wound.


He was so thin that there was no extra skin to pull toward the wound to stitch it back up, so he may have a limp for his life unless the skin stretches as he gets older.


But who cares! He was alive and he would survive. My husband and I stood teary-eyed as we listened to a tale we never thought would come to be. Hugs were exchanged, and we were gifted with a purple flowering plant.

IMG_1294When I walked the woman to the door, she turned around, cupper her hands around my chin, and whispered the words, “Petite Marieke” in such an endearing tone I nearly started weeping all over again.

The rest of the day and ever since, my husband and I have periodically broken into jubilant singing of the song, The cat came back. We have texted it to each other back and forth throughout the days. Every time I lament over a hardship in our life, I respond, but it’s all ok because… to which my husband cries out, the cat came back! Literally, the very next day!


And then we start singing all over again.


Of late, I have made many wishes between my recent birthday and the tossing of many coins into myriad fountains on our trip to Rome. So far, the only wish to come true was one I made on a tiny, perfect blue-black feather that I found in the forest. It was and continues to be the most important wish because it was, after all, a wish for life.


It seems so rare to have happy endings such as this. We see many animal missing posters around our little community and wonder if they are ever reunited with their human families. I was so happy to take down one of the missing Elio posters, leaving an empty canvas for graffiti on the side of the mailbox, and post the flyer proudly on my fridge as a happy reminder that this ending is not only happy; it is also a beginning.






Cat Lives

Of late, I have found myself musing over my mortality. Last night, I started calculating the years left in my life in terms of the number of cats I might possess (in truth, I am less certain that I possess my feline companions than the alternate option).

I am 33 (and almost a half).

I share a home with several felines. In order of age, eldest first and youngest last, they are:


Smokey (Grey Tabby of slight design)

Gender Ambiguous Age 9

IMG_2760Fingolfin (aka Bruiser, Siamese Himalayan of stout stature)

Born summer-ish 2008, adopted September 2008

Male Age 6


Arwen (aka Stella, Grey Russian Blue Tabby of rotund stature)

Born summer-ish 2008

Found at gas station in Skagit Valley

Adopted December 2008

Female Age 6


Puck (Maine Coon of fluffy design).

Born summerish 2009

Abandoned litter

Adopted fall 2009

Male Age 5

Let’s say that the Skagit cats all live another 10 years, give or take. That will put me at 43-44 years of age. If I adopt another two cats (because let’s face it, four is just too much), each creature will likely live another 16 years.

Now, I am 60. What does 60 look and feel like? Will I want a cat? Will I want the freedomt to travel?

I could potentially get two more rounds of cats, possibly three if I am very long-lived and able.

Anyway, as I sat in the passenger seat doing the math, I could see my entire future before me. Did I have time to get an orange cat? What about a black cat to replace my beloved Izzy, whom I had given up to a family in Alaska before fleeing the state?

I love Russian Blue and Calico, too. There were so many choices and so many beings in need of safe haven and love.

It was clear that I needed to live a long life and also that I should probably try to relax a little bit.

I can remember my dad telling me about his desire to read as many books as possible before time ran out. Periodically, I think about all of the time I am wasting by not spending several hours a day dedicated to reading.

Am I just frittering away my precious time on this earth?

I don’t think I am, but there are so many hours in each day. Sometimes, I feel that I should be accomplishing much more with each passing hour.

Additionally, I must admit that I am a bit terrified of growing old. All of my joints and muscles ache, and I am still in the early 30s realm of my current decade.

And so I sit musing over mortality on a Monday morning.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this one life we are given; or if you believe in another realm beyond, reincarnation, or something entirely different.