“Goodbye, My Sweet Baby Bodhi”

It’s been a year to the day since my husband and I said goodbye to our feline child Bodhi, and I couldn’t bring myself to write this any sooner. It’s heartbreaking when your beloved pet dies, even when you have other pets in the household. I work from home, so I’m fortunate to have my furry kids with me most of the time. I count my blessings every day. Still grieving takes its toll, and I start crying when I happen to look at Bodhi’s favorite places to curl up and take his naps. I do find comfort in having our other cats, Pierre and Isabella, who are 4 1/2 yrs. old, beautiful, strong and healthy. Bodhi in his prime was totally in charge of the household, with me as his Pet Mom, pampering him and indulging his every whim. I even sang a lullaby to him, as he sat on my lap. We’ve had many cats over the years, but I bonded with Bodhi the most, aside from Sabrina Faire, our very first mother cat. Like her, Bodhi chose to be with us, rather than being born into the family.

Our sweet baby Bodhi began life as a stray, just an abandoned kitten. That’s one of the things I liked best about his entrance into our lives. He came to us humbly and in need, left us and went feral again,  then Bodhi miraculously came back – just showed up in our backyard after being away for almost 3 months! Most feral cats once they leave, they’re gone. But not Bodhi! Our furry “prodigal son” returned of his own volition. It was his choice to come back and stay with us, even if it meant being neutered and domesticated.

My husband and I joked about how Bodhi – a handsome Russian Blue – had returned from “Tom Cat Boot Camp”. Why? Because he was bigger and had jowls, and looked every bit a dominant male. He was really “buffed” and strutting his stuff! That soon changed, once he returned on February 4, 2009.  Exactly two weeks later (happened to be my birthday), we took him to our vet and he got “fixed”, de-wormed and vaccinated.

I should really call this, “The Saga of Bodhi”. It all started when he showed up, starving and mewing outside our guest bedroom window. We had just moved to and were settling in to our first home in San Jose. It was July 26, 2005 (day before our anniversary)  I was typing away at my desk, when I heard “Mee-you!” and thought I’d imagined it, then again, “MEEE-YOU!!” more insistent and louder. So I looked outside the window, and there he was gazing up at me, with his little mouth wide open — non-stop mewing. Poor baby! I went outside right away, and saw this scrawny, grey kitten underneath a tree. I named him “Bodhi” for the famous Bodhi tree that the Buddha sat under, and from which He received enlightenment.

Despite my husband telling me not to take in any strays, I immediately put out cat food and a bowl of water.  We saw Bodhi every day in our front yard, but I wanted him to be safer in our backyard, so food and water bowls were moved there, and that became Bodhi’s territory. Aggressive male cats challenged him, and our backyard became a battleground. But Bodhi prevailed, so he was officially designated the Alpha Cat!

Bodhi may have conquered our backyard, but he was happiest in our home, as a member of the family, along with mama cat Sabrina Faire and her kittens Buddy and Midnight. It was a gradual transition, from the garage, which was Bodhi’s playroom for almost a year, to being part of our household. He had the freedom to come and go as he pleased through the side door, while our other kitties were kept strictly indoors. Bodhi had everything he needed in our “finished” garage:  kibble, water, his own litter box, toys to play with, and a comfy cozy kitty bed to take his naps. But his favorite place was curling up in my lap, as I sat in an old rocking chair. I sang to him a lullaby I wrote, to the tune of “Barney’s” song: “I love you, you love me, that is just as it should be. With a lick, lick, nuzzle nuzzle, give a little scratch.  Behind your ears which perfectly match.” Bodhi was our only cat who balanced freedom of the outdoors, with the safety of indoors. He truly had the best of both worlds!

There’s more to show with kitty photos, but today is difficult with no access to a computer to download and include them here. Also, I have to take time to pray at my altar. I am now placing our beloved’s urn there, which is inscribed: In Loving Memory – My Sweet Bodhi Boy, Who Gave Me So Much Joy, Rest In Peace My Love, In God’s Heaven Above.”

Goodbye, my furry child.  I shall never forget you. 

Banish Writer’s Block: What IS Absoulute Beauty?

What a wise and wonderful question! Every person will have an entirely different answer, based on their own unique POV. Mine is rather unorthodox, maybe even unsettling. That’s the “beauty” of it, and not limited to eye of the beholder as with museum art or an attractive body. I’m exploring the other senses, feelings, emotions, within a natural healing process than can turn our perception of “ugly” into something beautiful…

I begin my answer with another question: Why should we be afraid to show grief when we’ve suffered a loss? Maybe “afraid” is too strong a word. More like self-conscious and unwilling to look messy or ugly, as with a face scrunched up with tears. We women know that means mascara running down our cheeks — “Oh-my-gosh, can’t allow anyone to see me like this!” It’s embarrassing, and more so for men due to society’s double standard. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Having a “good cry” is therapeutic, shows our sensitivity and we feel so much better afterwards, don’t we? After a rainstorm, the air is so fresh and clean and everything looks beautiful. Whenever we have a drought (as now in California) the raindrops become our Heavenly Father’s merciful tears nourishing the parched earth below. Likewise, when we give free reign to our grief, there is a catharsis taking place which is very healing. Those who hear someone crying, have a natural urge to help that person out of sympathy and kindness. We have a causal relationship here that is “beauty” in action, not just a superficial perception of what we consider attractive, and THAT is the essence of compassion. The tear-stained face is beautiful and the offered shoulder to cry on provides blessed relief. Who knew that you could be at your most “attractive” when grieving the death of a loved one? This emotion is an inherent part of our human experience; an absoulute expression of the Soul. Think of it as the ultimate gift to yourself — the freedom to breathe in the grief and embrace tears you shed as a testament to the one you loved. One of my favorite quotes is from Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, “The quality of mercy is not strained. It droppeth as a gentle rain from Heaven above to the earth below. It is twice blessed; it blesseth him that gives and him that receives.”

A compassionate heart, humbly baring its soul. Ahh, I can’t think of anything more beautiful than that.