The Unexpected Lessons of Love and Healing – A Caturday Guest Post From Crystal on her Experience With the Zee/Zoey Gang!
Editors Note: I shared a special guest post this past Wednesday from my youngest step-daughter, Jackie, and today I have one more special guest post to share from my other step-daughter, Crystal. Crystal is a 3rd grade teacher and like me, she often measures the moments in time by the lessons we learn along the way. While she is very much familiar with the Zee/Zoey feline gang, this particular visit last week brought with it the unexpected lessons of love, companionship, and understanding that only a cat can teach…
Lesson Number One: If you open it… they will come.
As a guest entering Deb and Dad’s home, other than the fact that there is more cat furniture than people furniture, and there are bins busting to the brim with more cat toys than any pet store would possibly carry, you might not even realize they have cats. The moment you enter, you might see a blur from the corner of your eye, but would probably shake it off as jet lag. You’d never suspect that eight felines were lurking… sniffing out the unsuspecting guest…
I say I was visiting Deb and Dad, but anyone who knows them, knows the truth: they are just the humans who are graciously allowed to live there, and we are the guests who they will tolerate – so long as we can aide in their bidding because it only takes but a momentary lapse in judgment in the Zee/Zoey household for the cats to take complete advantage. Those of us who would rather become a circus juggling act, foolishly overloaded with the remnants of a family game night, rather than make two trips, fall prey to the cats lying in wait for access to the coveted carpeted bedroom which happened when Chris, (Deb’s son), Jackie (my sister), and I were putting away some board games in the guest room where I was staying.
We left the door open for only just a brief moment… but that is all it takes. Suddenly all eight cats become living beings – zipping and zooming from every direction into the room. Even Zoey, with whom we fear eye-contact would leave us all as stone monuments in the garden, sneaks in past us with a guttural growl to acknowledge the opening of the door. Since I’d rather not risk a limb than try to pick up Zoey, the door will have to remain open.
In truth, I couldn’t bear to kick the cats out of the room since Mr. Jazz had taken up residence on the bed. Mr. Jazz is scarcely the cat I remember him to be, and my last trip was only in December. Sadly, he was very sick, and probably would not have made it, had it not been for Deb delicately nursing him back to health. If it meant seven cats were going to have the run of my room so that Jazz could snuggle next to me- so be it.
So I snuggled into bed, alongside Mr. Jazz and a good book for the wonderful peace and relaxation that I so cherish while visiting. It didn’t take long for many of the other cats to make their presence completely known. Especially Kizmet. It’s a good thing I have patience, for he is the essence of all things kitten! “Oh my goodness! Something is moving under the blanket! I have to pounce! And what’s that in the closet… must get it in! Wait! What’s that under the blanket again? POUNCE! What’s under the bed? What is that boxy-thing on the floor? I simply must explore inside! Oh- are these your clothes in this box with wheels? Wait- back to whatever is making movements under the blanket!” I could go on and on with Kizmet’s explorations.
Zee proved the ever-vigilant father/guard. He perched atop the dresser, admonishing Kizmet’s every move. Which, (as anyone who knows a vocal Maine Coon), does not make for the most restful background noise for a good night’s rest.
Though our summer visits are usually time for celebration and reunion, this visit was marked with a tinge of sadness, as our family had just lost a very close friend. Though we grieved together, and shared memories during the day, it was not until the quiet hours of the night that I often sat and processed the emotions of this particular visit.
During the third night of my visit, I found myself having a particularly difficult day. Dealing with a host of emotions, I went to sleep that night not feeling quite right. That was the day we were supposed to see our friend, “Uncle Dave,” though he passed before I could say goodbye. I went off to bed, keeping the door open since Jazz was already comfortably settled, and turned out the light. Later in the night, I was pretty sure Zee came in as well, since the cat that nestled in was particularly gentle and restful. There is something about snuggling with a pet that brings such comfort.
As I woke, I was shocked to realize that it was not Zee who came to my side that night, but Kizmet. The same cat that spent every second of the previous nights bouncing off of and onto every surface that might wake me was quietly cuddled in with Jazz and made little of his presence known, but for a few purrs. I might just shake it off as being a rare coincidence, had it not happened the following night as well. The next time, it was just Kizmet, cuddled right next to me.
Packing the suitcase back up – and making sure Zee was not in it after his encounter with Rick the dog – I thought about the most valuable lesson that Kizmet taught me during my visit. There is something special about the way that animals sense our emotions, and instinctively know exactly what we need. Though just a kitten, he curled up and knew it was not playtime, but a time for healing and calm.
Visiting the Zee/Zoey clan, this special gift that animals seem to have was shared even more so when I was graced with a gentle “meow” from Zoey, and an affectionate brush against my leg. Though ordinarily I might think twice about trying to pet the Queen, I reached down, and she lovingly accepted my affection.
I don’t feed these cats. I don’t provide their shelter, or clean their litter boxes. (Granted, I am that stranger that comes in leaving doors open to all of those previously unknown areas… but I digress.) When I needed comfort the most, even the most aloof of the clan came with an open heart, and a gentle purr. There was a bigger lesson to be learned this trip: Lesson #2: If you need it – they will come.
Thank you for that beautiful post, Crystal. I know firsthand how powerful the love of these cats can be and I am so glad they were able to be with you when you needed them most…