a tribute to a visitor…

Good morning, it is February 29. Leap year is upon us.

An additional day has been given, if only for a moment of quietness and contemplation.

The storm all the weather people have been predicting hit us with a vengeance.    I looked out the window, sipped on a cup of hot chocolate and sat down on the sofa. Looking straight forward through the window you can see a large tree, the street, a small park and houses on the other side of the park.

As I sat sipping my cup of hot chocolate my mind fixed on my daughter. She had just lost her cat.

A few years ago we got a telephone call one day. On the other end of the phone connection was our daughter. With a sense of pride and excitement she informed us that she now has a cat. She chattered on about this cat including minute details. This cat was to become an honored guest in our daughter’s home. You see just a short while after my daughter, her friend, and this cat crossed the 35 W bridge, Minneapolis was to experience a massive catastrophe. The 35 W bridge collapsed. The newspapers, television, radio and Internet lit up with nonstop words of this tragedy.

Amidst all the noise there was a silence. Nalah was now taking up residence in our daughter’s home. She made herself known by the way she walked, by the way she investigated where she was and how she was going to take ownership of this space. She would be the new master. Over the next few years she would give permission to those she would choose as acceptable servants in her new dig. Over the next months she accepted who she would and rejected others. She defined how the space would become hers and the rest was up to whoever and however they wanted to occupy it. After all, one could almost hear her words;

“I am cat… Hear me roar!”

The day happened when this cat needed to visit with us in our home. Our daughter was going away for a couple days and could not leave Nalah  alone. She was to come to our home.

This type of visit happened a number of times. Each time Nalah found herself choosing to live in the closet, only coming out to take care of the necessities of life. Just as quickly as she appeared, she disappeared. On occasion, as time went by she would walk out into our presence, take one look at our dog as if to say, “the next time I see you, you will bow.” She walked with an air of confidence if not arrogance. She began to claim space.

In time, after many visits she discovered the window. She would sit in the window and look out.

On her last visit we knew she was not well. She had been losing weight. Her defenses seem to have mellowed. She allowed us to know that she was accepting us. Then without any notice, as I was sitting on the sofa looking out the window, she walked toward me and stopped. She sat looking up at me and then without warning she jumped up next to me, laid down and invited me to rub her tummy. Then, with as much intentionality she jumped down walked over to the window, jumped to the window ledge and stayed there looking out, taking in what ever it was she saw.

Nalah , was again back home. She was not well. Over the next weeks her health did not improve. The sense of commanding presence she once employed was now replaced with steps mimicking and perhaps hoping that she could regain her sense of confidence. Her jumps fell short, her navigation seemed a bit awkward. Her sense of independence was now replaced with a desire to be held. Her moments of aloneness were now replaced with a cry to ask, “why did you leave me alone so long?”

The day came when Nalah  was to be put to sleep. My daughter took her to the vet. This time Nalah did not fight or seemingly argue about her destination. This time Nalah  did not assert her independence. This time Nalah snuggled and said goodbye.

As I sit on the sofa looking out the window I see the storm has come. In time that which immobilizes us will release its claim. I will look out the window again and smile, sip a cup of hot chocolate and remember with fondness the visitor named Nalah .

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