As a young child, I was drawn to a world of spirituality and mysticism. I was fascinated when my best friend's mother claimed the ability to communicate with ghosts and read people's auras. At slumber parties, games such as Light as a Feather Stiff as a Board and the Ouija Board sent shivers of excitement up and down my spine. My friends and I shared ghost stories, conducted séances and read each other's Tarot cards. As the years went by my innocence, wonderment and youthful naiveté transformed into realism and logic.
I now consider myself a fairly practical and analytical person. As a Psychologist I tend to lean on the conservative side of the spectrum, arriving at logical conclusions through reasonable amounts of data. I disregard stories of the supernatural, ghosts and extraterrestrial sightings. I would not feel comfortable utilizing hypnotism as a clinical tool in my private practice, and I question theories about past life regression and reincarnation. Then last summer, I lost my cat Sam after nearly eleven years of his loving companionship. I was devastated when I was forced to have Sam euthanized, and the grief cracked me wide open.
Sensing my distress, a warmhearted and refreshingly eccentric veterinarian handed me the telephone number for a "pet communicator." I held onto the number for weeks, tempted but also ashamed to make the call. When the passage of time failed to ease my sadness, I finally succumbed to curiosity and dialed the number.
During a 45 minute telephone reading, a complete and total stranger conveyed intimate details about Sam, his endearing mannerisms, and the intricate details of our life together. She told me that Sam's spirit was anxious to return to me; he would find me again very soon through the body of a new healthy pet. While the rational part of my brain chastised such nonsense, I found justification through a primary law of physics suggesting that energy cannot be created or destroyed. If a living being is comprised of energy, I deliberated, what happens to the energy after the physical body deteriorates? This line of reasoning released me into a whole new world of strange coincidences and inexplicable occurrences; I was awakened from my jaded and weary perspective with a renewed faith in miracles.
The pet communicator reassured me that Sam's soul and mine would reunite soon. She suggested that I refrain from actively seeking a new pet for a "minimum of three lunar cycles", emphasizing that Sam would enter my life on his own, unexpectedly and effortlessly. Finally, she explained that a loving friend with a warm smile would bring Sam to me as a gift and place him in my arms; the result would be a divine spark of recognition causing my eyes to fill with tears of joy.
Six months later, I traveled to Highlands, North Carolina for a weekend trip with a very dear friend and soul mate. The excursion was sudden and unexpected- I was working at my computer on a Friday morning when I received a text message from my friend inviting me on a spontaneous weekend getaway. Several hours later we were headed for the mountains, munching on greasy fast food and listening to our favorite seventies band, Firefall. Highlands holds special meaning for both of us as a sacred and magical place that we love to share together. We were very excited about our impromptu journey.
On the morning following our arrival the air was cool and crisp. To our delight, we could sense the imminent snow and waited in anticipation for the first glorious flakes to begin falling, blanketing the cozy little mountain town like a Norman Rockwell painting. My friend is an early riser and relishes his solitary early morning walk from the Mountain High Lodge to the cozy Buck's Coffee on Main Street. Sporting a fleece pullover and his favorite fedora from Wyoming, he headed into the brisk mountain air as I enjoyed a leisurely morning of uninterrupted slumber.
With his coffee in hand, my friend decided to rest on a wooden bench outside Buck's and meditate for a while. Seemingly out of nowhere, a beautiful apricot colored cat wearing a blue collar with a bell attached, brushed against his leg. My friend does not prefer cats as pets; nonetheless, he tentatively reached down to gently stroke the soft apricot colored fur. The cat gazed knowingly into his eyes, and my friend felt strangely compelled to lift the cat onto the bench, where the two sat side by side in silence, sharing the tranquility of the early morning. Eventually the cat moved closer, settling onto my friend's lap like a long lost friend. He described the encounter as a deeply moving and spiritual experience.
Knowing my deep love for animals and my lingering grief over Sam's recent passing, my friend considered scooping the cat into his arms and carrying him back to the hotel room. If it were not for the blue and white color suggesting the cat was owned and cared for-perhaps by one of the shop employees on Main Street- he would most certainly have returned to the hotel with the cat in his arms.
Later that day, my friend shared the story of his brief encounter with the apricot colored cat. Envisioning the two sitting side by side on the wooden bench outside Buck's Coffee, I felt a stirring deep inside my heart. We walked up Main Street together that afternoon, stopping now and then to catch snowflakes on our tongue and hurl snow at each other. I was on a personal mission to locate the apricot colored cat with the blue collar. We sat on the wooden bench outside Buck's where we sipped coffee and waited for the cat to return. As daylight faded into dusk, there was no sign of the cat.
On the second day of our trip, we returned to Buck's for our morning coffee. As I approached the infamous wooden bench outside the coffee shop, I caught a glimpse of an apricot colored cat wearing a blue collar with a bell attached. He had white feet and a white belly; his tiny pink nose was sprinkled with brown freckles. My heart soared, and I reached down to stroke the beautiful apricot fur. He brushed against my leg several times before I scooped him into my arm and nuzzled him against my chest. His body relaxed against mine, and I felt my heart melt as my eyes overflowed with hot stinging tears.
For the remainder of our time in Highlands, I was consumed with locating the owner of the cat. I fantasized about rescuing the cat from his life on the Main Street and showering him with warmth, safety and eternal love. Through several local folks I learned that the cat's owner was a woman named Michelle, who worked part time in a lovely place called the Little Flower Shop, located directly across the street from Buck's Coffee. I discovered that the cat stood next to the wooden bench outside Buck's Coffee every day, faithfully greeting locals and tourists. My friend and I jokingly referred to the cat as" The Mayor of Main Street".
I immediately made my way towards the Little Flower Shop hoping to introduce myself to Michelle. However it was off season in Highlands and with the locals expecting snow many of the retail shops were closed for business, including the Little Flower Shop. The locals reassured me that the cat had easy access to the inside of the shop through a small makeshift opening, where food and warmth awaited him.
On the Monday morning of our scheduled departure I felt a mounting heaviness in my heart. All weekend I had been unsuccessful in locating the owner of the cat, and my fantasy of an adoption was slowly fading away. After breakfast I approached the Little Flower Shop one final time, eager to finally introduce myself to Michelle and inquire about the possibility of an adoption. My plan was to win her trust and ultimately her heart, by convincing her of my affection for the cat and genuine desire to nurture and protect him.
The car was packed and my friend was anxious to hit the road and begin our five hour journey home to Charleston. He attempted to play devil's advocate, explaining that the cat already had an owner, a home and an entire town that knew and loved him. He suggested that it might be unfair to tear the cat away from his familiar surroundings and subject him to a life of domestic captivity.
The doors to the Little Flower Shop had finally opened for business, and a middle aged man with a somber demeanor stood behind the front desk. He nonchalantly stated that Michelle was not around, and the cat was most definitely not available for adoption although many folks- both locals and tourists- routinely stopped into the Little Flower Shop to inquire about adopting the cat.
I resigned myself to the fact that the cat was exactly where he needed to be, and it was time to go home. As I headed back towards the car where my friend awaited me, I shifted my gaze back towards the wooden bench outside Buck's Coffee, hoping for one final glimpse of the apricot colored cat......
TO BE CONTINUED
Risa Mason is a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice in Charleston, S.C. She specializes in guiding people towards inner peace and fulfillment by teaching them how to live, dream and thrive. You may contact her for individual or group coaching, or public speaking engagements at 843-769-0444, http://www.risamason.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org