last photo of caterpillar
Yesterday at about this time, late afternoon, I realized my baby Caterpillar is gone and not coming back. She'd been gone two days and nights plus a third day. I had gone out earlier, walking to every place I've found to be her favorite places, and every place in between. I knew she would not leave sight of the house, but a 360 degree circle around the house has thousands of hiding places a cat could snuggle into and never be found. I had no confidence in the search, but as two days and nights went by, not dropping in for water or catfood, confidence grew that I'd never see her again. Last time I saw her go out the door she was healthy and alert in her wild mind. The last two nights I took her to bed, she was up within a half hour and out the door to stay the night outside, return at noon to refuel, then back out the door. This was when wild mind overtook her. She came into the house to fill her tank and went back out. She had a determination in those two days that became her focus. I've always allowed Caterpillar her own mind. I don't check on her to find her when she's gone several hours. She's at home here, this is her world, the only place she's ever known.
Around 4am of the second night that she left the bed to go outside, I saw her in a dream standing on the floor beside the bed where she stands to wake me when I'm sleeping. She said mao to me one time. I did not wake because I knew it was a dream. It fell into the pattern of my dreams the last few years of a place I know well with something missing or something there that is not there, only one thing. Like in a dream I walked into the house and catfood bowls were missing, everything else the same. In the dream of her speaking to me, I saw her and heard her, taking it for a dream because it fell into the pattern of my dreams lately. And she did not say mao a second and third time, which she always did. The evening of the first day she was gone all day and came back before dark, I recall a moment of holding her up, eye to eye. We looked into each other's eyes for a long time. I saw something in her eyes that told me she would not be with me much longer, and she knew it. I wrote it off as my sentimental imagination and fixed on the beauty in her eyes, that they did not look like old eyes, yet had a weariness behind them. I'm glad, now, for the moment. When I think of her, which is all the time, I see her eyes full of her love for me. She saw my love for her in my eyes.
Several times a day the last two days, I expect to see her walking in the door, then remember she will never walk through the door again. My feeling now is when she spoke to me in the dream, it was her last moment. I suspect a coyote found her, maybe a big owl, but the owl would have had to be eagle size to pick her up. If neighbor's dog had killed her, I would have found the remains. Strangely, I feel satisfied if a coyote caught her. Like burning the body, there was no grave left for her soul to cling to once it's left the body. It feels like the natural order for the four-leggeds. I understand that once an animal goes into shock, like when a coyote grabs one, immediately it goes unconscious like the soul left the body in that moment. I suspect this is the moment Caterpillar called to me. There is no pain and it's fast. Therein lies my comfort. She saved me the sorrow of taking her to the vet and holding her while she's given a shot and goes out instantly. I did not want to go through that, but would have been happy to, to keep her to the very last possibility of her natural life.
She seemed like she was on a mission the last two days. She walked into the house with purpose, refueling, and walked back out. When she stopped to appeal to me while I was writing, her plaintive mao tore me up. It sounded desperate, needing my attention, a depth of desperation that gave me concern, needing so much to be held. I'd hold her awhile, she'd snuggle in and purr while I sang her song to her and told her I love her. Her need was such that it made me suspicious something was up. Looking back, I can see several signals that pointed to Caterpillar knowing it was her time. She had taken to lying out in the open near the road. I wondered why she did not hide like usual to take a nap outdoors. Today, my feeling is that she was offering herself to be found by a predator. She knows the predators around here. She used to be one of them. I had feelings I called sentiment that she was ready to go on and had chosen her way. Her attitude, what I called her wild mind, appeared to have taken over her mind. She never came down out of it but for the moments I held her. I'd put her down and out the door she went. I miss my baby so much today, I'm in a constant state of sorrow. At the same time I feel so much love for Caterpillar in my heart it wells up and trickles tears down my face. I weep and sob a little bit and pull myself together. My love for Caterpillar keeps my heart billowing in love and sorrow as one. All that's left is gratitude for eighteen years with a beautiful soul I fell in love with the day she was born.
these are my last 5 photos of caterpillar, 8/31/15