(re-post of Ghostwriters Society article)
A small menagerie resides in my house. There are nine cats, three dogs, two guinea pigs, and ten rats.
Seven cats, two dogs, one guinea pig and nine rats have heartbeats – the others are spirit animals.
Oh, I know what some of you might say. ‘Animals don’t have souls so they can’t leave a spirit behind.’ I’d challenge that with every living thing has a spirit, a soul – even the planet. I know what I’ve seen and felt. We have two spirit cats, a spirit dog, a spirit piggie and a spirit rat. Actually, there may be two spirit dogs, as one appears in the altar mirror once in a while, but as for walking around, tail wagging and doggie-breath, it’s one. I’ve told Bear’s story elsewhere, but suffice to say here that she had a few bad years in the ten or so of her life, most of which I could have prevented, and I will forever be saddened by. She forgave me my leaving her behind, and is one of the spirits in this house, one of many we brought with us when we moved in here.
I have awakened to a cold, wet nose on mine more than once, we hear her toenails on the floor in the kitchen, we’ve seen her shadow move through a room. I have, still half-asleep, reached out to pet her when I felt her get on the bed. While our Little Bear physically shares the same build as her grandma, they are different in coloring… Bear Sr. was almost all black, except for her legs, which were palest cream, almost white, while Little Bear’s coloring is that of a Norwegian Elkhound. There is no way I could mistake younger for the elder.
There is just no way around it, despite all the hardships she was put through, Bear Sr. stayed with her family, even in death. I’m also sure this is an intelligent haunt, because Bear Sr. never lived in this house. Much like the next spirit pet on the list.
My first cat, Maggie (the Cat – get it? Mom named her), has been with me since I was five years old. Almost overnight, in her thirteenth year of life, it seemed her age caught up with her; she became very ill. The vet informed us she had liver cancer, and even at nearly seventeen, I knew the best option for her was the Rainbow Bridge. The poor vet had never seen such an emotional pair as my mother and I, and we used not only the tissues, but the paper towels as well, to mop up our tears. I was heartbroken.
After it was done we took her home to bury her under the apple tree. My grandfather surprised us with a tiny coffin, lining it with silk and velvet stolen from the inside of my grandma’s good coat – I’m not sure she ever forgave him.
A week later, Maggie came to sleep on my bed, curling up by my pillow, purring. She has done this almost every night for the last twenty years. I know I’m not dreaming, and I know it’s not my imagination. I’ve been sitting up in bed, wide awake, with lights on and reading, and still I’ll feel the steps across my legs, and movement near the pillow. Within moments, I’ll hear her purr.
The most prominent animal spirit in the house is that of Pyewacket. Pye was originally meant to be my cat, as I’d always wanted a Siamese. Within no time, Pye became my youngest daughter’s constant companion. He was only two years old when he was killed in a most cruel and inhumane way by the bullies that tormented my oldest daughter. Care was of course heartbroken, as were we all. It was several months before we were able to accept that he was in fact gone for good, and only after the persons responsible told the girls how it had been done (also in a very cruel and inhumane way). Gotta love a town where bullies are protected and left to run wild. No? Oh, okay. ; )
Pye is a regular visitor in Care’s room, and occasionally stops in mine. Some nights, usually around the time of year that he was killed, we hear his voice, yowling as only a Siamese can. We have a picture of him looking out of the altar mirror; very obviously Pye, and it’s also very obvious that there is no cat in front of the mirror. Besides – of our seven currently breathing cats – not a one is Siamese.
It’s been nearly two years since we last held our old man guinea pig. Mochi fought such a hard fight in the final months of his life, struggling to stay with us. Even just before we had him put to sleep, he tried to play. Well over seven years old, his gingery-brown fur had dulled to a beige, his feet had twisted with arthritis, and he leaned to one side after a series of strokes – cruelly, for a while we’d nick-named him ‘Strokey’ – yes, we’re horrible people.
Be that as it may, before we modified his cage for the rats, it was stored away, out of sight, and the table where it’d been for years was empty. Even so, some evenings, in the hours of what had always been his most active periods, we could hear the distinctive sounds of shavings rustling, popcorning, twisting body and the short, chirring sound he made when he was completely happy. Though his cage eventually became home to five adult rats, we could still hear the chirr. I don’t think he was happy having had his home confiscated by the twitchy-whisker parade.
Despite that, he talks to the new pig – Mocha. Her wheeks and whistles are far more sharp and ear-drum destroying than Mochi’s were, and we’ve heard both coming from her cage. I’m sure she’s playing with him when she’s dashing around, popcorning and kicking up bedding. I think he’s happy to finally have a female to talk to.
Someday, I think I’d like the house to be just spirit-animals… they’re easier to take care of, and definitely shed less!
Have you had a similar experience? Perhaps someone you know has been visited by a deceased furry family member? Share your thoughts!
(Updated September 2011 – for Barry Napier)