Over the Christmas holiday we had quite a few visitors in our home. My daughter, Sarah, and her husband and son stayed for several days. My son, David, spent the night on Christmas Eve. And then we had people in and out of the house all weekend long. But, the most surprising visitor we had was a cat. A ghost cat.
I have to admit that I’d seen a cat out of the corner of my eye several times before and when I’d turn, none of the cats would be around. (We have two very alive cats in our house, along with our very alive dogs.) One night, I’d gone to bed early, and I’d felt something jump on the back of my bed and settle in. (We always close our bedroom door because we really don’t like sharing our bed.) (Okay, let me alter that – when my husband is home, we always close our bedroom door. 😉 ) Anyway, I was sure, and a little saddened, that our seventeen-year-old cat had finally crossed over and that I would find him the next morning curled up in his favorite spot, but gone. And, he’d just dropped by on his way over the Rainbow Bridge to say good-bye. I got out of bed to check, but our old cat, McDuff, was hale and hearty and sleeping on the couch near the wood-burning stove. He looked at me in annoyance when I touched him to see if he was still breathing.
So, I just figured someone else was visiting and I went back to bed.
But over the Christmas weekend, Sarah came downstairs with a perplexed look on her face. “Last night,” she explained. “I came downstairs to wash up and when I looked at the kitchen island, there was a cat sitting on the lower shelf. He looked right into my eyes for a moment, then I looked away for just a second and when I looked back, he was gone.”
“What did he look like?” I asked.
“I thought at first it was Hemingway (our younger cat), but it was a darker cat,” she said.
We don’t have any dark cats “living” in our house. But living on a farm with seven kids we have had a plethora of cats and kittens throughout the years. And some, of course, were dark cats.
The next morning, I came downstairs early, before anyone else was awake. I walked into the bathroom and, as is their habit, I was followed in by one of the cats. I was still a little bleary-eyed, so I didn’t really pay attention to who it was, I was only careful not to shut the door on anyone’s tail. But after I closed the door, I looked around and no one was in the bathroom with me. I distinctly remember seeing a cat’s tail coming alongside me in the corner of my eye. I know that I thought one of the cats was with me. And, I wasn’t thinking about anything supernatural. I don’t know if I was thinking about anything that early in the morning.
There is a tradition – a Christmas tradition – that animals are all given the gift of speech at midnight on Christmas Eve. (I always go to bed before that because I just don’t want to hear their complaints.) But, I wonder if Christmastime, which I always feel is a thin time anyway, is also a time for pets to visit their old stomping ground and their families they had to leave behind. I wonder if they get to wrap themselves around our legs for old times sake, or bark at the UPS man one more time, or just settle between legs and blankets on their master’s bed.
I have heard barks outside, when I know the dogs are all inside. I heard someone running across the wooden floors upstairs when I can see all the animals are sleeping at my feet. And there has been more than one time when I was outside in our acreage when I’ve seen one of our dogs (who is no longer with us) dash through the woods, spooking the pheasants.
I love knowing that they can visit. I love knowing that the Rainbow Bridge is a two-way street. And I love knowing that some of my best friends will be waiting for me when I have to make that journey someday.