I was given two books last month: The Atheist Manifesto; The case against Christianity, Judaism and Islam by Michel Onfray and Cleo; The uppity cat who healed a family by Helen Brown.
Looking at the titles, you would not immediately think of a connection between the two. The three religions have inspired so much death and destruction over millennia and Catholicism, in my experience, gave me a terror of death and dying. All that talk of hell fire and brimstone, the devil, and the ramifications of committing a sin, no matter how small. I was too afraid to look upon my dead father as he lay in his coffin. Afraid of what?; I could not put it into words then.
Until a cat entered our lives. We also have a much loved cat called Cleo, the reason my daughter gave me the book. We too have learned much from our Cleo; infinite patience, playfulness, the healing virtue of time. But it was another cat called Sirius who taught me that death itself isn’t so scary. Sirius was fifteen years old when his kidneys failed. He had never spent a night away from our 3/4 acre lot in Marlborough; abundant trees, bamboo to hide and sleep in and plenty of field mice . If ever we went away on holiday or overnight, he had a live-in baby sitter, just as Helen Brown’s Cleo did. So when it was time for us to say goodbye to him, our children returned home and Paul and I stayed home from work. We arranged for the vet to come to the house. The vet gently inserted the needle into Sirius’ front paw and he instantly fell over on his side. It was all so peaceful and I was truly amazed. I don’t know what I expected but I was from that moment more accepting of death. The new revelation did not stop me from sobbing along with the rest of the family. Even the vet and his nurse had tears welling up in their eyes. As Helen Brown says in her book, we don’t choose a cat, they choose us.
All images and text on this page copyright to Anne Frandi-Coory All Rights Reserved 10 March 2010