If you followed my blog early on, you’ll know that Lucy, my beloved cat of nearly seventeen years, died the summer before last. A few days after she crossed over, I heard from her, the story of which I documented in my blog entry, “The Passing of an Old Friend.”
Perhaps the most hopeful message I received from Lucy that night she contacted me in New York was this: “I’ll be back.” It was a message that was echoed by an intuitive woman I met by chance a week later: Lucy was planning on being reborn as a kitten and returning to us as a pet.
In the weeks and months after Lucy passed, I sensed her presence on a number of occasions. Usually, I’d noticed this at nighttime. As I’d drift off to sleep, I’d perceive her perched on the table near the bed, as if wanting to be near the nest where she’d spent so many nights. Sometimes, though, she’d come in during completely unexpected times.
The most surprising occasion was last February, while I was at the dentist getting a temporary crown. It was almost as if Lucy wanted to provide a comforting presence in what could have been a trying situation. Surprisingly, however, she didn’t seem to appear two weeks later, when my permanent crown was installed. That dentist office visit was the last occasion she seemed to be there.
Three months later, my wife and I visited a local breeder to pick out a new kitten. This turned out to be a lot more stressful than we’d anticipated. Unbeknownst to us, two families had also shown up to look at the kittens and, because of snarled traffic, we’d arrived last.
If you’ve read books about animals and the afterlife that include animal communicators, you’ll read story after story of animals who reincarnate to be with their humans again. It’s not uncommon for animals to announce their intentions to come back beforehand through an animal communicator, similar to how Lucy did. The inevitable question asked by owners eager to reunite with their pets is, “How will I find you?”
The answer from the animal is always the same: “I will find you.”
This is fine in theory, but practically speaking, it was a little nerve-wracking to show up late to the cattery, with seven other people picking over the litter.
We needn’t have worried. Within a minute of our arrival, a kitten walked directly up to my wife and let us pick her up. We’d found our cat. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say that she found us.
Nearly right away our new cat, Emily, began exhibiting behaviors and characteristics similar to Lucy. Anyone whose had a close relationship with a pet knows that all animals have a distinct personality and even if a breed shares general qualities, they all have different habits and a unique energy. Emily definitely shared Lucy’s spirit and the more time went by, the more examples we’d get of how similar the two cats were.
Yet there was one thing I was not prepared for. For some reason, when I’d thought of Lucy’s return, I’d expected the crusty old cat that I’d grown to know and love so well, the cat that was losing her hearing who would patter silently up behind me and meow loud enough for her to hear her own voice, scaring the crap out of me. But what I didn’t anticipate was Lucy-as-kitten.
Little Emily was so much like the little kitten that my wife and I had picked out at the animal shelter eighteen years before. Emily was the same yet not the same, an old soul in a new body. And as much as she is like Lu, this little furry being is a new story, having new experiences, making new memories, creating new relationships with her housemates, cats and humans alike.
I learned later that Emily had been born shortly after my first trip to the dentist, when I’d had that temporary crown put in. This might explain why Lucy didn’t seem to appear when I’d had my permanent crown installed a few weeks later, even though I’d half-expected her to be there.
Those we know and love now, we’ll know and love again. Yet every moment is unique. Every moment is meant to be cherished, because nothing will quite be the same ever again. The lesson here is that though physical bodies fail, the story goes on.
Brian Mercer is the author of the supernatural YA novel, Aftersight (Astraea Press, 2013). He is also co-author with Robert Bruce of Mastering Astral Projection: 90-Day Guide to Out-of-body (Llewellyn, 2004) and The Mastering Astral Projection CD Companion (Llewellyn, 2007). A board member of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association and senior editor at Author Magazine, he lives in Seattle with his wife, Sara, and their three cats.