SINBAD




My Cat For All Seasons



My cat for all seasons
left me in winter,
the day before Valentine's.
I thought she took my heart with her,
a wound that would never heal.

But spring came, as always,
to affirm fresh new life.
And memories of how she loved spring -
flowers, baby birds, and all things
proclaiming wakening after winter's sleep -
brought me out into the sunshine,
which she caught in a net of rainbows.

So I passed through spring into summer,
warmth and life in all its glory,
endless blue skies like her blue eyes,
which always drank in summer's beauty.

Then autumn slipped round, golden autumn,
burnishing the leaves she loved to watch
and chase,
leaves settling gently like the covers
she liked drawn over her on cool nights,
my blue-eyed comforter in soft fur.

Then snow laid a fresh white blanket
over land sleeping so peacefully,
snowflakes she always loved watching
especially falling through darkness.

And as I fell through the darkness
of the long year without her,
my cat for all seasons
reached out with paws soft as snowfall,
eyes blue as summer skies,
love and wisdom ripe as autumn,
and spirit always young as spring -
and caught me, again and again,
and brought me, again and again,
the peace I needed,
the strength I needed,
the love I needed,
to wait for her...

My cat for all seasons,
who will still be there for me
at the end of all seasons.

Cynthia Morgan (2005)





The Lighthouse pet loss grief support site exists because of Sinbad. It was the pain of losing her, and the wish to do something to honor her and to help others who were just as devastated by the loss of a pet, that led me first to spend a few years as a moderator at another pet loss site, and then to create the Lighthouse last year, the summer of 2006.
But twenty years earlier, in the summer of 1986, there was a kitten...

I first met her after hearing from my brother Jeff that coworkers of his had three kittens to give away, kittens born to their sealpoint Himalayan cat, who had been allowed to roam. The three kittens obviously had different fathers. There were two larger kittens, one solid gray with extra toes, the other solid black, both very fat and very fluffy. And there was the runt of the litter, the little white one. My brother and his wife adored the larger kittens. I watched the little white one stalk across the living room and tackle a leg of the couch, and I fell in love.

The kittens were too young to leave their mother, so I couldn't take the one I'd chosen home with me yet, but I was still asked to name the kitty so the couple's children could call the baby something besides the little white one. I was also told the white kitten was a male (moral: always check for yourself, especially if you're supposed to name the kitten right away). I had no idea what to name "him" but suddenly the name Sinbad came to mind, and I'm not sure why. I'd never been that much of a fan of the Sinbad films and stories. But the name popped into my head, and I went home, to return to pick up Sinbad the following week.

I realized very quickly that my little kitty was a female, but for some reason the name Sinbad still seemed right for her. So did giving her toy boats to play with in a basin of water set on the floor. She loved to push the toy boats around, especially the little sailboat.

She didn't like how much time I spent at the computer even in those days, but she did like to curl up on the computer, or in a desk drawer while she still fit.

She loved to perch on my shoulders, and on top of her scratching post.

She'd looked so small next to her larger siblings, but she grew very fast on a diet of KMR and Fancy Feast. At six months she was as large as most grown cats. She kept growing and weighed close to fifteen pounds much of her adult life, and was nearly a yard long from nose to tip of tail. She looked even larger with her very long, fluffy coat. She scared one of my nieces, visiting when she was only two. My niece was used to her own family's cat, but she thought Sinbad was too big to be a cat and had to be a dog, and that niece was afraid of dogs. Sinbad forgave her. Sinbad liked children.
I'd often see her quietly watching my nieces and nephew when they were little.

She rarely meowed. She would most often make little brrr or mrrr sounds. Most cats make those sounds occasionally, but it was Sinbad's main vocalization. I'd never been around a cat who did that before, but I was told her momcat communicated the same way.

Sinbad enjoyed being an only cat the first five years of her life. She loved to play hide and seek, and she'd get so excited to find someone that she'd sometimes jump straight up and down as if there were springs in her legs, boing boing boing, before tearing off to find another hiding place.

She loved being in the kitchen, too,
whether perched on top of the fridge - which she would sometimes jump straight down from - or curled up in the microwave.
She loved being silly. Some cats are very dignified, and Sinbad could look dignified when she wanted to. But she seemed to prefer being comical. I was thinking of that contrast between her beauty and her sense of fun a few years ago when, after a friend referred to her Bridgekid Hazel as a "dustmop kitty" in a sweet poem, I wrote "Ode to Dustmop Kitties Everywhere" for Sinbad and Hazel and all dustmop kitties.






Shall I an ode to dustmop kitties write?
To kitties with such pretty, shaggy fur.
Their fur doth ev'ry dustbunny invite.
They don't need Pledge, the static cling's a lure.
They sweep around the house, all majesty,
Pure feline grace and noble gaze on top,
While underneath they sweep all the floors free
Of lint and leaves and dust, just like a mop.

But ne'er do mops offer such sweet reward
As licks and headbutts and, best of all, purrs.
Forget drab housework! Give cats room and board,
For nothing beats these dustmops wearing furs.
And when the floors are clean, their work all done,
Beauty incarnate, they nap in the sun.





She'd often sleep diagonally across a recliner seat, with her head propped up on the end of the arm rest, and her head would slip off while she slept and she'd often end up lying there, finally awake, her head hanging down off the edge of the seat, looking at me upside down. Going brrr when our eyes met then, clearly amused by how silly this was. She had a silly bunnylike run at times, partly due to her long hind legs, but due more to her sense of fun, because she never bounced as much when she ran unless she was trying to be silly. She'd often crouch, make that brrr sound, and hightail it off to start a game of hide and seek. She was so large she didn't quite fit in the empty grocery sacks she liked to hide in, but I'd pretend I didn't see her, and after a while there would be a brrr clue from the sack. If I ignored that, there'd be another, then another, getting louder and louder, until I finally "found" her. At which point she'd scamper off to find another hiding place. She loved to play her version of Catch, which involved leaping high in the air and batting a toy I'd toss to her in one direction, and hightailing it in the other. And besides playing with toy boats, she liked to play with toy cars, especially one little orange race car, which she'd roll back and forth and sometimes use as a pillow.

But most of all, she loved being with me. For 16 years, 8 months and 2 days, Sinbad was my furry shadow and soulmate. If I was at my desk and she wasn't on my lap (and she was such a big cat I had to sit well back from the desk if she was on my lap), then she'd usually be on the desk or under it, or under my desk chair. Or sitting in the window by my desk. She slept with her head on my pillow. She followed me from room to room like a puppy. If there was a closed door between us, there was often a white paw sliding under it to remind me she was there.

And that didn't change even when two other cats joined our household, when she was 5 years old, in the autumn of 1991.

The kittens, Tiger and Frosty, bonded instantly with each other after Tiger was rescued, a few weeks after Frosty was.
But Sinbad never really bonded with them. She watched them with interest and sometimes romped around with them, all three kitties tearing from room to room and managing to sound like a thundering herd despite their soft paws. But while the kittens groomed each other and cuddled, Sinbad usually kept at least some distance between herself and her feline sisters. I'm not entirely sure Sinbad thought of herself as a cat.
Around people, though, and especially with me, she was the most communicative cat I'd ever met.

Not by meowing - as I said, she rarely meowed. But I'd hear that mrrr or brrr sound at least dozens of times a day, sometimes just because I'd looked toward her and our eyes had met, and she was acknowledging me. I miss that vocalization so much.

She communicated a lot by purring, too, and though she could sometimes purr quietly, she was a big cat and her purr could often be heard a room away.

And she liked to put a paw on my hand if she was just lying nearby.

She was always there, and always reminding me she was there, for 16 years, 8 months, and 2 days.

She was such a constant presence in my life that somehow I never thought I'd lose her.
She made it to nearly 17, equivalent to mid-80s for a human, and though she never stopped looking so beautiful that everyone who saw her always commented on how beautiful she was, she grew old, and her kidneys failed...and I finally had to set her free to go play at the Bridge, on February 13, 2003.

I'd broken my wrist 8 months earlier and had needed two surgeries and had constant pain, but I didn't know what pain was until I lost Sinbad.

My sister happened to mention Rainbow Bridge, and I remembered reading the story years earlier on a mailing list where another member had lost a cat, so I went looking for the story online, found it on lots of pet loss sites, and at one site found messages posted by people who not only loved that story and clearly understood how much losing a pet could hurt, but also posted messages about signs and visits from their Bridgekids. Messages that often began with those people saying that maybe it was just a coincidence, or their imagination, or a dream...and sometimes even wondering if people would think they were crazy because they felt they'd had a sign or visit from their pets on the other side.

I stayed at that site, became a moderator a few months later, and spent a lot of time doing research online and offline to reassure the other people there that those signs and visits, which I learned were often called ADCs or after death communications (direct experiences, not communications through a medium), are both real and fairly common in grief support groups - something many people don't realize until they feel free to talk about them.

I did everything I could to make sure people there felt comfortable talking about them, and the same is true at the Lighthouse, which I set up last year after leaving Petloss. It helps people who are grieving to share their feelings and memories with others, and to create memorials, but what helps most is the belief that they will see their loved ones again. And ADCs often provide that assurance even for people who have no religious beliefs. I've seen people who were confirmed skeptics start to believe in an afterlife once they had their own experiences.

But it helps, as John Edward wrote in one of his books, to know the "language" of ADCs. And as I learned not to dismiss as mere coincidence a rainbow or a special song at just the perfect time, Sinbad seemed to be reminding me she was around, just as reliably as when I'd see her sliding a paw under a door that she didn't want closed between us.

I read about butterflies behaving in odd ways as ADCs, wishing I'd had similar experiences, and later that day I went outside and, though I'd seen few butterflies that summer, one landed on a chair just a couple of feet away and stayed there for the longest time. I read about "pennies from Heaven" on the message board at After-death.com and teased Sinbad about not sending pennies from Heaven, and a cat figurine resembling her, with the name Penny handwritten inside it, turned up. I was thinking I wouldn't see any rainbows on her 6-month Bridgeday, the 6-month anniversary of her crossing, a bright sunny day, and a radio that had been loudly blasting rap music from a neighbor's place was suddenly changed to a station playing Eva Cassidy's glorious recording of "Over the Rainbow" (so startling I had to ask someone else if I was actually hearing that) before the radio was switched back to rap.

And I'd smile, whenever there was a sign like that - and there were so many of them - as I remembered my cat who, even when hiding in a grocery sack, had to keep making sounds to remind me she was around. Or slide a paw under a door she didn't want closed between us.

My cat for all seasons, my cat who was always so communicative while she was here on Earth, has continued to communicate, sometimes even with my friends - as when she inspired Chris (Morrigansmom) to paint a picture of Sinbad in the beam of light from a lighthouse, early last year. (A few months later, just hours after I'd been looking at an antique phonograph that was for sale, Chris - who hadn't known that - told me she'd had an amusing vision of Sinbad putting a record on an old phonograph and dancing. It didn't make sense to her. It did to me.) A batch of lighthouse collectibles turned up unexpectedly just before I created the Lighthouse last year, and that happened once again this year, just before our second board, Lighthouse Beacon, was launched. Earlier model ships or images of ships turned up at important times, but lately there have been more lighthouses. Also perfect as a sign from a cat named for a sailor. And what could be a more perfect symbol for a grief support board than a lighthouse?

I'd felt as though all color had drained out of the world when I lost Sinbad.

But it came back...with rainbows.

I am so grateful for the rainbows, from the first double rainbow the St. Patrick's Day a few weeks after she left, a perfect double bow from horizon to horizon, to the double rainbow the evening of her 3-month Bridgeday on May 13, 2003, and all the rainbows since then, including the one on my birthday this past summer..
I am so grateful for all the ADCs.

I am so grateful, too, for all the time I had with her here.

And as much as I miss her, I know without any doubt that she's very much alive on the other side, playing happily at the Bridge...and still making sure I know she's around.









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