Little Visits

portrait of black cat on floor
Are You Looking At Me? pastel, 17" x 22", 2005 © B.E. Kazmarski

This is the third and final article in the series of articles about my cats visiting me in a spiritual sense, a collective of individual instances through the years.

Working in my office/studio one evening, I heard the door of my refrigerator open—you know how you recognize these everyday noises—and I didn’t think too much of it. Until I remembered that I lived alone and I had not opened the door myself. I slowly turned my head to look into the next room where the refrigerator was plainly in view, and the door was indeed wide open, and…Kublai was standing right in front and looking over the contents.

Kublai, my first black kitty, was a real creative thinker, and between his strength and able mimicry of my movements—opening windows and doors, pulling lids off containers—and my tiny refrigerator, he just decided he’d open it one evening and help himself to the contents.

If I’d had a video camera he surely would have won a prize for the way he’d flip open the door, stand there with all the other cats ranging behind him and say, “Humph”, his message: “There’s nothing good in here to eat.” Well, I was a vegetarian, but he was also a feline garbage dispose-all and stopped at absolutely nothing. He’d eat cooked carrots as well as anything else. He’d eat the plastic they were wrapped in as well.

This was cute and funny, but also a great worry since it could be fatal if the door swung shut with him or one of the others inside. A new refrigerator was out of the question because of space, so I tilted it slightly forward so the door would not swing shut if opened, and added a bungee cord wrapped around from the side to hold the door shut for, oh, at least four years. Sometimes I would forget the bungee cord, and the door would always be open the next time I entered the room. I think he gave it a try several times a day just for the heck of it.

A few months after I’d lost Kublai I finally decided to rebalance the refrigerator, replace the seal and remove the bungee cord. None of the other cats was inventive enough to try to open it. One day soon after, I returned home to a wide-open refrigerator door and laughed, the first good laugh without a twinge of sadness, simply knowing Kublai had gotten one over on me. I’d been thinking about him all day, smiling at all the incredible things he’d done.

How did I know one of the other cats hadn’t opened it, or it hadn’t simply fallen open on its own? I didn’t. I didn’t have any proof, but I trusted my intuition, which Kublai had helped me to hone. I knew he’d been here for a visit.

Taking their places again

sketch of two tabby cats
They Miss You When You're Gone, pencil © B.E. Kazmarski

From the time I’d moved into this house I’d had a foster cat in the spare cat room, right on the landing between the bathroom and my bedroom. I’d visit the spare cat and dole out some more food right before I went to bed. When Moses, serious about her food, having been a few hours from death by starvation, caught on to this and for one of the very few times in her life looked right up at me, pleading, I gave in right away and gave her a few pieces of the spare kitty’s dry food.

When the rest of my household discovered Moses’s clever initiative they quickly convinced me they should all have a midnight snack, choosing places in a circle around me. Hmmm, a circle of eager, hungry cats and just me at the top of the steps…their expressions were all so dear that I quickly grew to look forward to the midnight snack. It turned out to be a great idea because they’d all come to bed and settle down for most of the night and was one of the things that brought this group of cats, and me, so close together. Initially there were six, but my household grew to nine, and often included fosters after their time of quarantine. I doled out the food on the wooden floor you see in Kublai’s portrait, above; the spare cat room doorway is to the left, Kublai’s spot was pretty much where you see him on the floor.

I actually lost Kublai and our orange boy Allegro two weeks apart. They were nearly my first losses, I had had no idea Allegro was ill, could barely mourn Kublai who’d been like my life partner, and was totally lost. I was still doling out the nightly snack though it was a constant reminder that two of the nine were missing, and the remaining seven had begun to fill in the open spots.

A few days after Allegro passed I was getting the container of food and visualizing all nine of them on the landing behind me, actually forgetting there were now only seven. I turned around to see they’d arranged themselves as they always had before any losses leaving Kublai’s and Allegro’s spaces open. I was surprised to see they weren’t there, then I remembered, then I smiled. “Thanks for stopping back, boys, I’m glad you’re still together,” I said.

Light as thistledown

pencil sketch of cat in bag
In the Bag, pencil © B.E. Kazmarski, inspired by Sally

Sally had pure white long hair, was genetically deaf and as free as the wind. She awoke every morning, gathered all her abundant energy and made every moment of the day the best it could possibly be, never spending time on what she didn’t have or couldn’t do. I lost her at 15 to cancer.

thistle seeds
"Let Go", photo © B.E. Kazmarski

As I got into my car after work a few days after I had had Sally put to sleep, a thistle seed borne on the wind by its long white down flew past my face, circled around in my car, then flew out the passenger window, and I had the strongest sense of Sally being near me. She was on her way to another life, still the beautiful free spirit she’d been with me, carried where life took her.

With all the time I spend on trails and outdoors I encounter more than my share of thistle seeds and usually they are just thistle seeds, but every once in a while I still enjoy a visit from Sally as she spins and whirls around my head, sometimes landing near me before again taking flight, borne on the wind.

And sometimes I see a white pouf drifting up to one of my windows, gently brushing against it or becoming lightly tangled in the screen, under my porch roof, on my second floor, places where it’s not easy for a thistle seed, borne on the wind, to get itself into.

The hummingbird

painting of cat in sun
Warm Winter Sun, oil pastel © B.E. Kazmarski

On the Wednesday afternoon one week to the approximate hour after Namir’s death, Cookie and I went out in the yard to remember him since we three had enjoyed much time together out there. I hadn’t sensed him around at all, not seen him out of the corner of my eye, not forgotten that he had died and went looking for him, all very strange for the cat with the big personality who had monopolized so much of my time with his hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

Cookie jumped up on the picnic table before I even got down the steps from the deck. At 17 Cookie was very dignified, but not known for her speed. She knew exactly what we were doing.

As we sat there, I heard behind me familiar buzzing and slight chirping sounds, though I couldn’t place them until I turned around and saw a female hummingbird visiting the bergamot, newly blooming right next to the picnic table. I normally have groups of hummingbirds visiting my feeders and all the geraniums and other attractive flowers in my yard, but this year it was July and I hadn’t seen a single one yet.

bergamot flowers
Bergamot flowers © B.E. Kazmarski

In most cultural and spiritual traditions, the hummingbird is known to be a messenger. While it is bound to the immense needs of its body to supply enough nourishment to support its high energy activity, it still transcends this burden to find joy in each day as they always spend some time in play and even seem to play practical jokes. It has adapted to reach far into a flower to find its nourishment, and so we must learn to reach far into ourselves to fulfill our needs. These tiny birds migrate a huge distance, and so tell us that we must persevere, no matter the conditions. Their wings beat in the symbol of infinity.

I was so happy to see the little bird, admiring her olive green against the deep red of the bergamot. But it took me a minute or two to realize it was Namir visiting us, as all my other cats had done in one way or another, to let me know he was free of his limitations, that I needn’t worry about him any more. No one but me knew all the health burdens Namir carried; like the hummingbird he had transcended the weight of his body in life, and now in death.

She soon left the bergamot to hover around the yard—in all the places Namir had loved so well for observing wildlife. As I pondered the deep significance of this visit I heard a scuffle in a tree and I saw her being chased by a sparrow in the air above the yard. The hummingbird had apparently annoyed the sparrow. I laughed. How like Namir. As she sped off, the sparrow in hot pursuit, I whispered to the sky, “Bye, guy.”

At Twilight

pastel painting of a cat on a bed
Afternoon Nap, pastel © B. E. Kazmarski

But my favorite visit is at the end of twilight, when the sun has gone down and the only natural light is that reflected from the sky back to earth, the twi-light being the mixing of day and night together. In this half-light the human eye, strong on color, can barely distinguish shapes from the dim background and the veil between day and night seems to thin as does the veil between this world and the next.

I carefully walked through my bedroom to turn on the lamp on the other side of the room, but just as I reached for the lamp I simply felt lots of cats in the room with me. This was no surprise, I’ve always had six or more, usually nine, and they often follow me as I do things and also hang out on the bed in my room.

But while I could actually see and hear the cats who’d followed me into the room, I glanced around the room to see what other cats were also there. They shifted around and I couldn’t focus clearly on a single one, though I could swear there’d been more than one on the bed…I stood there, not focusing my eyes on anything but simply sensing that I was sharing the room with a good number of my feline family, past and present, on the bed, on the windowsill, on the floor, even rubbing on my legs in the darkness near the floor.

This last light fades very quickly no matter where you are at this time of day. Full darkness came in just a minute or two, and with it all our visitors faded and left, leaving only my current family settling on the bed for a bath and acting as if nothing unusual had happened; for them it was likely a typical occurrence. I turned on the light and thought about the last few minutes, glad I’d been able to experience it.

And I have again a few other times through the years, always in the same conditions of deep twilight. While one might think I’d plan to be there at that magic time of day every day just to be with them again, it really doesn’t work that way; even when I’ve come a little early and realized the time was soon and I would wait, they don’t show up on a schedule.

But when I have no inkling of the desire, when I am emotionally ready, I sometimes find myself walking through the softened shadows of my room, and sense all around me my precious companions as if they’ve planned that I would appear at exactly that time, when the edges disappear, the veil thins, and in those few moments when day and night mingle, so does past and present and our loved ones can once again share an existence with us, however brief.

Also read:

The Balloon

Taking Sally Home


All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.

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Bernadette

From health and welfare to rescue and adoption stories, advocacy and art, The Creative Cat offers both visual and verbal education and entertainment about cats for people who love cats. From catchy and creative headlines to factual articles and fictional stories, The Creative Cat provides constant entertainment and important information to people who love cats, pets and animals of all species.

12 thoughts on “Little Visits

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  • June 5, 2013 at 12:53 am
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    Lovely stories, every one. My favorite has to be “Taking their places again.” —

    Our bedtime routine is the recitation, “One for Mayya, one for Jesse, one for Threegood,” while I dole out only two treats. We know Jesse visits us then.

    Reply
    • June 5, 2013 at 11:38 pm
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      Meg, how sweet! I thought about some of these stories for years before I realized I should write them down, like that one. I’ve always experienced things like that, and had no idea some people did not–or simply did not realize it.

      Reply
  • October 31, 2012 at 9:14 pm
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    I laughed when you said Kublai opened the refrigerator door, because that sounds like my fur-babies. None have figured out how to open the fridge, but most figured out the cupboards. My late Samantha used to open the bathroom cupboards and sleep in them, especially the ones closest to the heater. The other cats only opened the cupboards in the kitchen waiting for food and the youngest never did any of the above. That is, until after Samantha passed. Some how the littlest started in Samantha’s bathroom driving me nuts, by banging the doors (the bathroom is right next to where my computer sits in the office). She eventually goes in, but for weeks, would just open the doors and bang them. She never ever opened any doors before nor did she have the want, so I can only guess that she was helping Samantha one last time. 🙂

    Reply
    • November 1, 2012 at 11:42 pm
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      Linette, you’re exactly right! She may have been looking for Samantha too. It’s amazing to me when I find them sitting in the other cat’s spot or in some way imitating them, and I realize that two cats who barely spent any time together were nonetheless very close friends.

      Reply
  • October 31, 2012 at 12:34 pm
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    ‘Are You Looking at Me?’ is a beautiful piece of work – you never fail to amaze me.

    A few months after Sparky, my beloved ginger tom passed away, I was in Greece with my partner on the balcony, staring at the night sky above the sea. Occasionally there were shooting stars and the night sky was always vivid in that part of the world. Suddenly we both noticed a bright orange flash, like the sun catching a window as it opens. We both saw it, and had to agree that it was completely unexplainable. Something was up there and it was so fleeting that we wondered if we’d imagined it. I thought of Sparky and felt very contented.

    Not long after that, I was sleeping in my hotel room in London, and a huge orange flash lit the room for just a second. It was so bright I saw it through my eyelids. No lights were on and the curtains were drawn. My friend who was staying in the adjoining room came in and asked me if I’d seen the flash. We were both a bit scared at first but then I thought of Sparky again and felt very happy.

    Reply
    • November 1, 2012 at 11:39 pm
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      Mark, it had to be him! Even taken logically it’s too much of a coincidence, the orange flash, but the way you knew intuitively it was him. He knew how to get his point across! But I’d be darned scared at an orange flash in my room that bright…

      Reply
  • October 30, 2012 at 6:41 pm
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    Great stories Bernadette! They reminded of the summer that BJC died and I received lots of visitations from bunnies in my backyard. It hadn’t happened before she “crossed the bridge” and it only occasionally happens now, but there were many that summer! I remember you telling me that it was just her way of letting me know she was okay on the other side.

    Reply
    • November 1, 2012 at 11:36 pm
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      Vicki, you just never know how they’ll do it, but they always do. I’m so glad I had the chance to tell you it was likely her, but then she probably arranged that as well.

      Reply
    • October 30, 2012 at 5:48 pm
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      But did you laugh when Kublai opened the refrigerator door? I still do, even when I just look at it. Thanks for reading.

      Reply

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