As a writer of ghostly and horror fiction, the fascinating realm of phantoms and spectres has always held a special lure. Apparitions have served me well over the years as dramatic symbols of guilt, human frailties and earthly conscience. I had never, however, until a few months ago, experienced an encounter with a real ghost. Truth be told, I am not certain about what actually did unfold, but upon reflection there seems no other conclusion that I can draw upon. But let me start at the beginning, or should I say the end, for my tale begins with the death of my beloved sixteen-year-old cat, Atticus, in September 2002.
He was a white domestic short hair with a sensitive, gentle and loving disposition. I named him Atticus after Gregory Peck’s character, Atticus Finch, in the movie To Kill A Mockingbird. The mother of one of my oldest friends gave him to me. Ours was a special bond, especially after the woman died in a tragic fire some years later. The poor cat had been sick for more than two years with a heart murmur, thyroid condition, severe arthritis and shortly before his death, kidney problems. He was on three medications and often in pain. I did everything I could to make him feel loved and comfortable. But the day finally came when I had to muster all of my courage and say goodbye to my suffering companion. To this day, I feel guilty as I had hoped that he would die peacefully in his sleep and that I would not have to intervene. But it was not to be.
Even though I have six other cats, I felt his loss acutely and I cried for days. (Whenever I think about him, I recall an old Russian saying about having ten fingers, but this one hurts.) I took him that morning from his fluffy white bed and noted as I often did that when he lay curled up there, he was barely visible, as the bed was white and so was he. I woke him and resisted the impulse to kiss him before I brought him to the vet. In my heart I knew that if I did so, I would not be able to go through with putting him to sleep.
When I arrived at the vet, I was in a state of total despair and he asked me if I wanted some time alone to say goodbye. I said yes, but it was a most difficult time. The cat did not want to leave the carrier and I had to pull him out. I hugged him and said goodbye and kissed him quickly on his sweet white head. But I couldn’t stay. I could not bear it. The vet was kind and told me I had done everything humanely possible to make his life a happy one. Still, I felt terrible.
Some two days later, I had the most starling experience. I was standing in my dining room near one of the cat beds that rested near the door. (There were two other such beds throughout the house and all my cats slept in them periodically). While polishing my dining room table, I perceived a singular movement out of the corner of my right eye. It was a circling action, such as that a small animal might make in preparing to lie down. I turned to face the bed and gasped at the chalky white, transparent outline before me. I kept expecting to see one of the other cats strolling nearby, which might have explained the movement. But I was alone in the room. I told myself that I imagined it because I was not comfortable with any other explanation.
The next day it happened again. This time it was right outside my bedroom in the very cat bed that Atticus had been sleeping in before I took him to the vet on that terrible morning. I was changing the linen on my bed and once again saw something move via my peripheral vision. The whirling, whitish form disappeared the moment I found the courage to face it head on. Once again, there were no other cats nearby. I could no longer accept that this had been my imagination, no matter how active that part of my brain might be. A few days later, he appeared for the last time (so far) in that same bed outside my bedroom door. And this time I knew in a way I had never known anything before why he had returned. Tears welled in my eyes at the thought of my fumbling attempts to say goodbye in the vet’s office, but suddenly I realized that HE HADN’T BEEN ABLE TO SAY GOODBYE TO ME!
Was he really there? Well, who’s to say? I can only state that something was there for me and that’s for sure. I may never be able to name the phenomenon I experienced, but I will remember it always as the manifestation of love between a dearly departed pet and his sorrowful owner.
Marjorie Dorfman (USA)
Check out Marjorie's great websites here:
http://www.cultureschlockonline.com Pop Culture
http://www.overthehill.info Middle Age
http://www.housenotsobeautiful.com Home owning
http://www.whatsnewemu.com Animals, Pets
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