With any emotional event, there are synchronicities and when that event involves death, they tend to be powerful and in your face.
Anyone who has pets knows that that animals have their own agendas. They can be teachers, creative inspiration, spiritual messengers, companions who love us unconditionally, or all of the above. They can be of any species, can drop into – or out of – our lives at any time. Their agenda usually isn’t something we can divine. That’s how it was with our daughter, Megan, and her cat, Piper.
One June afternoon two years ago, Megan’s friend Denise brought over the cutest gray puff of a kitten with these wise eyes and an energy you could feel in your heart. She was the runt of a litter Denise had rescued. Megan had been thinking she would love to have a cat and here she was. You might say it was love at first sight.
Piper’s first friend was Nika, Megan’s dog.
They preened each other, played, chased each other around the house. When Megan visited us on weekends, with both Piper and Nika, Piper won over Noah and Nigel, both of them large Golden Retrievers. The dogs preened her, loved on her, and she ate it up. When Megan began watching dogs in her home, Piper accommodated them. She stood up to the bullies and stared down the little yappers until they skulked away, probably ashamed of themselves. When she spent time here with us, she explored our backyard, chased lizards, climbed trees, did all those cat things but with a certain grace and finesse.
She enjoyed humans. She slept with Megan – and us when she visited – curled up under the covers, purring, content. She often sat on my desk at night watching the frogs that suddenly glommed to my office window to catch insects. She sometimes just sat on my desk watching me. She really wanted to be friends with our older male cat, Simba. He’s a cranky old guy who sometimes tolerated her and sometimes didn’t, but seemed to enjoy her visits nonetheless.
On October 28, Megan returned home from a movie with Denise and they found Piper dead on the living room floor. Megan, hysterical, thought one of the dogs she was watching had killed her. But a veterinarian who arrived shortly afterward to pick up her dog, saw that Megan was distraught and examined Piper. She said there were no bite marks, that it was likely Piper died of a heart attack, that her heart was congenitally weak in some way.
Now here’re the strange synchros. Denise, who had given Piper to Megan, was with her when she got back from the movie. Denise actually spotted Piper’s body first and stayed with Megan for a long time in the aftermath. The next day, October 29, National Cat Day, Megan buries Piper and Denise called her, hysterical because she’d found the cat she’d rescued dead on her porch. The cat had been hit by a driver who had left her a note of apology and placed her cat on the porch. Megan went over to Denise’s to comfort and console her and to bury her cat. While she was doing that, she found out that another friend had to put down his cat. On National Cat Day.
“She’s teaching me that death isn’t the end,” says Megan.
And sure enough, she saw Piper the night she passed, a fleeting movement in her peripheral vision.
After Megan buried Piper in her backyard, Nika came to say her good-byes.
Animals mourn, just as we do. But they have an advantage, I think, in that they sense their buddies are still with them.