A few weeks ago, my beloved cat Bailey died. I adopted her over seventeen years ago, when I was young and in need of a companion. If you haven’t read the story about how we found each other, you can read my blog on it here.
From the moment I saw her photo online, I was inexplicably drawn to this timid, beautiful cat. At the time, I couldn’t explain the intense magnetic energy that passed between us. It was the reason, that despite all logic, I adopted the most terrified and distant cat in the shelter. Now, I was not by any means a self assured teenager when I adopted Bailey, but despite the constant string of “Are you sure?” questioning that preceded her adoption; I was absolutely, without question, sure of this decision.
It wasn’t until a few days after her death that I would become fully aware of the reasons behind this undeniable connection that brought her into my life. The story I am about to tell, may lose some of you in what I like to call the “woo wooy-ness” ; but bear with me, because I’ve always been someone who enjoys a hearty mix of well defined science as well as inexplicable spirituality. And, even if you don’t buy into a word I say, I still think it is a beautiful story.
In the months leading up to Bailey’s death, I knew that her time was coming to an end. What we suspected was a rather aggressive nasal tumor, began to make breathing difficult for her I knew I didn’t want her to suffer needlessly. But being that she seemed relatively unphased by her predicament (aside from sneezing fits and nighttime wheezing), my heart struggled to know “when” the right time was. Every vet visit, she passed weight, eating, bodily functions, blood tests etc with flying colors and the staff always remarked how good she looked for a cat as old as she was. On one particular vet visit, a few days before she passed, I remember having a talk with her in the car, telling her that when she was ready to go, to just give me a sure sign and I would honor it. This is definitely one of those instances in which, you should be careful what you wish for.
A few short days later, I woke up to her bleeding copiously from her mouth and nose, and for the first time looking miserable. It was time. So, I made the phone call to the vet, who compassionately, came to our home that morning so that we didn’t have to transport her. Now, I have had my share of experiences with death; both natural and assisted. I have no squeamishness about the process, nor do I deny the grief that comes with it. I am comfortable enough with it that I accept it comfortably and allow myself the emotions as they arise. But, one thing that I can always rely on, is that moment when the heart fully stops and breathing ceases; the undeniable sensation that they have gone. The best I can describe it, is it’s an energetic shift of presence when a body goes from a “being” to merely being an “empty vessel”. As Bailey’s breath left her body and her heart ceased beating, I prepared myself for that shift…but, it never came. Bailey never left.
Her body was no longer living, but her energetic presence, her soul, her spirit, her essence (whatever you want to call it) stayed present, even amplified, around me. At the time, in shock, I assumed I was grieving so deeply that I was in denial; but something deep in my gut told me that I knew that wasn’t the right explanation. For days, I struggled to understand why I still felt her so close at hand. I grappled with the sheer bliss I experienced when remembering her face and her eyes. Her death didn’t feel like a loss at all…it felt like a blossoming. Her spirit, no longer encumbered by an aging physical body, had expanded and strengthened around me; and yet I felt utterly guilty at not grieving “correctly”, the way society stipulated I should.
I tried in desperation to untangle it in conversation and in writing. I remember my mom’s concern that I wasn’t acting in the way she had anticipated; given that I am normally such a deeply emotional person.
It was several “ah ha” moments later that led me to truly understand my experience. Firstly, I was listening to a podcast with Oprah and Byron Katie, in which Byron Katie speaks about her mother’s death. The way she explained the joy and serenity around her experience resonated with me so strongly and seemed to give me permission to see my experience as something natural rather than something wrong.
It was shortly after that, during a meditation that all the pieces fell into place. There was a reason all those years ago that I couldn’t just walk past Bailey. Despite all her flaws, I was meant to find her and we were meant to be together; because we already were. Bailey has been with me since the beginning. The years she spent with me as a pet, were merely a more tangible experience for us to get to know one another better. We spent those many years connecting more deeply and coming to understand one another more fully. We fine tuned our communication and our trust. The day that Bailey died, she didn’t leave, like the other souls of animals before, because her place was always meant to be with me. She simply took up her post in my legion of animal guides once again, this time, in the place of highest regard and honor.
And even now, around the house, I notice signs of her energy around. Our other cat Toby (whom she had little patience for) has started to explore my bedroom again (long terrified of her wrath, as this was “her” space); however, while he will sit in the window sill or sleep on the comforter, he actively avoids walking or sitting on my pillows, the one space Bailey always occupied. I have yet to discover anything that could coax him to invade this sacred place. He has also suddenly taken up the mantle of crawling onto my chest when I am lying on the couch; something Bailey did with such love and tenderness; but never something he had any interest in. It was the one physical connection I knew I was going to miss most when Bailey passed, and it is the one new behavior Toby started exhibiting.
In the time since her death, all of these things began to come to clarity and I felt it so deeply within me I couldn’t deny that something powerful and beautiful had transpired; but there was still this tiny nagging feeling that I was just telling myself comforting stories. Then I got the phone call that affirmed my intuition.
A few days ago, a family member had gone to a reading with a Medium and had called afterwards to share that Bailey was the first entity to come through into the conversation. She very clearly explained that she would always be with me and was leading my menagerie of animal guides (I haven’t written about them yet, but let’s just say I have a zoo full). She was known as a “nurse” cat, helping me in my healing journey and supporting me every step of the way. She confirmed everything that I had felt in my heart, down to why Toby honored her sacred space (because she was still bossing him around…)
Now, I have always had a very strong intuition. It is part of the reason I call myself an Intuitive Reiki Practitioner; because I am guided by the energy I feel and the deep knowing in my soul. However, I have always been afraid of really stepping into it and embracing my own power in this area. Little by little, over the years, I have had experiences that have confirmed the need to follow these whisperings; from near misses with car accidents, to sensations of when friends or family members are hiding pain, to dreams about my life’s path, and being able to pick out individual people’s emotions in a crowded room. But, it wasn’t until Bailey’s passing that I began to really get comfortable with this and step more fully into my intuition, accepting it as a part of who I am.
Bailey has given me one of the most precious gifts; the gift of faith. Faith in myself, faith in oneness and connection, and faith in living my truth, even when it is strange or unexplainable. So yes, A few weeks ago my beloved cat died; but in truth, it was merely a body that died. Bailey lives on and she is with me every moment and it is exquisitely beautiful.