Our sweet girl “Magic” died on the last full moon of 2020. She was a feral cat with a thick coat of black fur that revealed hints of its sparkling white roots with every step she took, hence the name. We rescued her as a kitten 7 years ago. She was a purr-er. The sound she consistently made from the start intensified with every stroke, every feeding, every kindness, and indication that she was seen. She taught responsibility, compassion, and how to express care. Ultimately, we gave her what she always truly wanted: the opportunity to be free.
It started during her “feral” phase. She got a taste of outside while we were renovating one year, and that was it for her. No matter what amenities we provided, she was always looking for a way to get outside. I am more of a pets-outside kind of mom, so it didn’t bother me much. We relocated her feeding bowls and made provisions for her to warm up when it was cold. She began spending more time outside just basking in the sun or patrolling the fence around the house. Magic was our constant yard companion. She even walking us to the park, subway station or convenience store.
Magic became a kind of neighborhood cat. You could find her lounging on a neighbor’s porch, lap sitting or cuddling a visitor or greeting passers-by. In fact, it was a neighbor who alerted us to her passing. There was so much going on in the family that day, we nearly missed the call. Aside from a pet goldfish or two, we never had the misfortune of mourning a loss like this one. She had been through “it all” with us and cultivated distinct relationships with each member of the family. Some would call her our familiar or protector. We were all deeply affected by her sudden departure.
I wanted to protect the most vulnerable among us, but decided the truth, though bitter was likely the best course of action. As we processed the news, I could sense the energy shifting from bewilderment to guilt to shame to sadness. It wanted to blame and lash out and find a way to make sense of what happened. Then, it came to me – the best way to channel the energy. Bury her. So, I had my eldest dig a hole near the largest tree in the yard. We each gathered a few sentimental items to bury with her and placed the pieces from a ceramic bowl she had broken the week before on top.
After the ceremony, our collective energy began to change. We all gradually felt more grounded. Each member of the family in his own time remembered something that made them appreciate our Magic just little more. This is why ritual is so important. Taking an intentional moment (or several) to consider the importance of a significant occurrence brings the clarity that helps us process the grief associated with the change or loss. The comfort that comes once we are able to celebrate the beauty of our experience is where the Magic truly lies.