This is because I love a cat person. There are three of us: myself, my daughter and her friend. Friend is the cat lover. Just now I find myself holding a cat leash because the caretakers took pity on my allergies and placed me outside where I could do some good by the cats and my friend without sneezing too much. My daughter is outside too, holding the tissue box.
A lizard crosses our path and the pounce is on! Red desert dirt flies as paws flurry. I laugh. My daughter laughs. Our laughter tangles in the sun scorched scrub oak as do the kitties. And while they rest from the excitement, I tell my daughter about Nutmeg, who, ages ago helped me to meet my step-sister.
“The first time I met Aunt K she was eight years old and I was seven. Aunt K had this brand new fuzzy kitten just weeks old with a white and gray face. That kitten helped us become sisters.
“We played with him on this carpeted tower with peepholes. He could emerge and pop his head out, like he was playing hide and seek.”
“It must have been weird to meet your sister,” says my daughter. She’s thinking about the pressure to like each other I think. It’s an astute observation I hadn’t really thought about.
“I think we were sort of playing hide and seek too.” I say. “It’s pretty intense to have your parents dating while you watch. That’s when you want to hide. Nutmeg gave us the chance to do that. We played with a kitten and became sisters while our parents fell in love.”
I was a guest on my dad’s date. That tumbling kitten put me and the girl that would be my new sister at ease.
We slept together in a single bed for the next ten years. Nutmeg crawled under our sheets and sounded like a motorcycle in the distance with the mighty roar of his purr while his claws flexed and extended, first making us scream in pain, then squeal with laughter.
When you are seven years old and your parents are doing all the weird things that go along with dating like flirting and taking extra long picking out clothes and asking you (little tiny you) if they look alright as if you are a mirror, the welcome of a kitty who tumbles and plays and hides in a carpeted tower is bliss.
I didn’t know that night, but would soon learn, that the sister holding the kitten would be the reason I would play for the next ten years. Even now, I delight in giggling with her. She chases away the boogie men in the night.
At Best Friends Animal Sanctuary they have a monthly blessing. During this time they remember the animals that have died at the sanctuary and allow those present to talk about pets or people who have “crossed the rainbow bridge.”
Near the end of the ceremony, guests are invited to choose a stone and take it to visit one of the vast multitudes of graves present at Angel’s Rest.
I love rocks. I look into the vast array of hand painted stones. I choose one and begin to walk. It is a beautiful place, surrounded by red canyon walls and hung with wind chimes. The tomb stones are so neatly cared for. It is easily the most spiritual cemetery I’ve ever entered.
With thousands of stones spread out before me, I cross maybe six dozen when this one catches my eye.
A grave marker at the end of the row says someone’s Nutmeg was buried here. Frankly, this is a little weird.
I came to this place because my daughter and her friend needed a chaperone. They are not yet old enough to volunteer here alone. This is not my gig. Plus, I am not a cat person, I like dogs. If I’m going to have a meaningful moment at an Animal Sanctuary, shouldn’t it be about a dog?
But this is Life for ya. I think I’m extending myself on behalf of someone else and Gratitude for the sister I have and the kitten who helped us bond comes flooding into my veins.
I am stretched when I spend time with people who are different from me, doing things not quite up my alley. I re-remember myself. Thank you daughter’s friend for begging me to pet the kitties. Thank you Best Friends for the chance to walk a cat, chase a lizard, and find a stone. Thank you Nutmeg for playing hide and seek and helping me to find my sister.
Have you ever volunteered doing something and remembered something ancient and forgotten? Who are the people different from you that stretch you to pet cats when you are a dog person? Or wade through rivers when you are land locked? Or read books when you are a movie critic? Has an animal ever helped you to strengthen a human relationship?
This is Sissy playing hide and seek. She chases lizards in a minute. She looks a bit like my Nutmeg and this image might be what inspires the story to come falling out of my mouth.