Today’s post is dedicated to my human friend Dave and his cat Roger. Dave and Roger rescued each other on a windy winter day 16 years ago. Roger passed away this week-after a long happy life, in the care of a human who loved him deeply- and who I'm certain he loved back.
Roger and Dave...
Roger- a tiny orange kitten- scared and hungry- somehow found himself stuck high in a tree on a blustery winter day many years ago. The skies were growing darker and there was not a home for miles… other than Dave’s.
For Dave, the tumultuous weather on that day seemed calm in comparison to the storm inside his head and heart. He was in the midst of a painful divorce, working long hours and managing feelings of distrust and disillusionment.
There is little explanation for how the tiny meow, of a then nameless kitten, made its way to Dave's ears that day- but it did.
From that day forward, the little feline- soon to be known as Roger- took a place in Dave's home where he remained a calming force in an otherwise busy life.
Roger was an old soul of sorts. He was calm and wise- but certainly not meek or timid. He seemed to embody the kind of balance many of us seek in life.
For the years that followed, Roger and Dave provided a touchstone to one another. Roger called on Dave in gentle ways and enrolled Dave’s nurturing at times when Dave needed connection most. One might say they were very much in 'sync.'
Fortunately Roger had a long happy life. But as so many of us know first hand, the grief of a companion animal's passing is often complicated and hard to bare. There are few, if any, relationships as unique as those we have with our animal companions.
We love these little souls with a depth that is hard to quantify or explain. As a predominantly verbal species, we humans tend to connect with others through words. In fact, many find it uncomfortable to remain silent in the company of another human. But with our non-human animal friends, we connect in more intuitive ways. We depend on our other senses and nothing needs explanation or justification. We quietly connect, co-exist, and exchange bids for affection. We still communicate and seek to understand one another, but we do most of it non-verbally.
In many ways our animal companions access a part of us that is not limited by what words seek to define. And as such- our feelings upon their passing also cannot be contained by, or expressed in, words.
We FEEL their absence in the truest sense. Literally experiencing a void by our feet or where they used to nap. We take pause when reflex has us breaking off a piece of toast to share with our now absent furry friend. We still open that shade to let the sun shine on their favorite napping spot....
And we miss the similar offerings they made to us... rubbing up against our leg when we felt alone, curling up in the nook of our elbow when we felt under the weather- poking us on the head when we were meant to wake up... and often reminding us to be present and take stock of life’s simple pleasures.
Dave reflected on many such moments in which Roger would call his attention to a slower pace, a moment in time- a patch of sun. He recalled offering himself as a bridge for Roger- Dave would lower his shoulder for Roger to step up on and transport him from one high perch to another. Sometimes this was to help Roger avoid a rambunctious foster kitty who was visiting. Other times it was simply to help Roger take in another view. They were bonded and they conversed with one another- intuitively. Their connection was a strong and enduring one.
Dave and Roger were good to each other and I have to believe that nature has a way of preserving such a deep connection in ways we may not yet understand.
Here’s hoping all of our companions who have passed away are enjoying peace from their new perch.
Dr. Pia Salk
Today’s gallery includes photos of the regal Roger and those of some other wise and lovable pumpkin kitties in need of adoption. They too, long for a safe place in someone’s home and heart- the kind that Roger was fortunate enough to find 16 years ago.