Feral Lessons II

Squatting beneath the pines, I choked the words goodbye into a squeak of gibberish.

It was the last day I would see Dupee. Nothing was wrong with the feral that stole my heart. He was tame, purring, healthy, and fine—a far cry from how I’d found him over a year ago.

Rather, my uncontrollable tears came because I was moving—leaving Dupee. And for the past three months, I’ve known I would move. During which was a long arduous decision on what to do about Dupee.

UNCONDITIONAL LOVE
Dupee is a homeless cat I adopted when I moved into a home. Our relationship and how it came to be is a prior post, and an edited version of it landed in a published anthology book (you can find that here).

During our year together, Dupee was like no other cat I’ve known. He provided absolute unconditional love.

Those who are in my tribe of cat lovers, know that felines are odd creatures when it comes to affection. While they count on us for their care —they also rule the roost. They can be full of affection one moment and icy-cold the next. They are aloof and independent. But Dupee’s disposition was unlike any.

Maybe it was how we found each other. How he stole my heart. How we met twice a day, and chatted beneath the pines. How he tried to love my Bengal cats—who would have nothing to do with him except for a hiss and growl. Yet Dupee came back each day, courageously standing at the back glass door. Dupee had a courage I admired. And he loved me.

He loved me. Unconditionally.

Now and then, I’d crawl into bed long after dinner and the sun, suddenly realizing I had not fed Dupee. I’d sneak out of bed, and turn on the porch-light to find Dupee sitting, and I swear…smiling as I grabbed his food and stepped out into the night.

And he swirled my legs, and drooled happiness. Every. Single. Time.

And even if I wasn’t feeding him, because it was the middle of the afternoon—Dupee ran to me. To swirl. And drool. And smile.

Every. Single. Time.

In many ways he wasn’t completely homeless anymore. I had become his foster pet-mom. Caring for the cat without a real home.

TO LEAVE OR NOT TO LEAVE
As the move date drew closer, my anxiety about Dupee grew.

I had no idea what the best thing was for this foster-pet of mine. Move Dupee with me, and I wouldn’t suffer heartache. He would remain mine and continue to unconditionally love me and my bratty Bengals. BUT there was a good chance this feral would become confused and run away. And then I would be devastated—knowing that once again Dupee was out there alone and removed from everything he knew as “home.”

On the flip side was to leave Dupee behind. And who would take care of him? And what if he missed me? And how would I feel…

It surprised me how much I thought about these small insignificant matters. But in my heart, it felt…huge.

SALVATION
An answer came in a little boy. He was running about my house, deciding what room would be his. And he loved my Bengals. Most people do—I
must admit they are pretty amazing. But he REALLY loved them. And with the same silly courage Dupee showed, I asked, “Would you like a new cat that comes with this house?”

Realizing he might think I was speaking of the Bengal he was petting, I quickly added that it was Dupee and told the CliffsNote version of Dupee’s story.

The little boy was hasty with an enthusiastic yes, followed by a look to his mom, who was nodding and smiling with approval.

And that was it… salvation at a cost.

Heartache.

Mine.

FINAL GOODBYES
On my last day, I came to clean the old house. And there was Dupee, sitting at the back door.

His food dish was still full, which meant he’d recently dined the prior evening or that morning on furry or feathered foe—a favorite of his. So I knew he wasn’t hungry. He wasn’t there to eat. Rather he’d come to chat. And purr. And swirl. And drool. And smile.

We talked briefly and then I turned to the task at hand—cleaning.

Four hours later I gathered trash and headed to the garbage cans. Like always I left the back door open. But this time when I returned, there sat Dupee in the middle of the empty family room. He’s never entered the house before.

And my heart started to break as I stared at the sight. Did this mean he wanted to be moved with all my other belongings? Was he trying to tell me something?

He chatted for a moment, then darted past me—out the door and to sit under the pines.

MOVING ON
It was almost two years before, when I went out to inspect the maimed and injured feral under the pines. And once again, under different circumstances, I made my way to this cat.

Crouching under the pines, Dupee rolled with delight and exposed his belly to me. He pawed at the air and made his happy chimmer-chatter. And I started to break.

He used to drool all over my feet, and now, my crocodile tears splashed on his fur.

He still loved me, unconditionally. And somehow I understood that he was happy here. This was his home. Somehow in some crazy cosmic way that God reveals information— I knew in the depths of my soul Dupee belonged here.

Here under the pines.

I had provided him love. During a time when he needed it. But this was his home.

Moments before, when he had run into the house, and back out to the pines—I believed it was to let me know it was all okay. The home, my love, my care—was not his home—the pines were. Yet our lives crossed for this moment in time. Maybe so I could learn about unconditional love. Maybe so I could learn that not everything we love—we keep. And that in many ways departing is okay.

It was meant to be.

And like Dupee, I’ve healed in many ways.

And healing still continues.

And the lessons from life, still continue to unfold.

© 2009-2012 Sherry Meneley All Rights Reserved soiledwings.com sherrymeneley.com soiled wings createheart create heart create●he/ART life coach coaching art journal

11 thoughts on “Feral Lessons II

  1. So beautifully written and I can so relate.
    God has used pet, stray and feral cats to teach me so many things.
    I don’t like to leave too many links around but I feel so connected to this post that I feel God wants me to share. You know I am Aspie and dyslexic and learn differently, my cats through the years have been teachers, I would get overloaded by human interaction and go into meltdown or shutdown. But I believe God taught me more through animals and nature.
    At the moment I have a stray stopping in my conservatory with her kittens.
    She has adopted us and her kittens have made such a mess out there in my art supplies. I feel God is teaching me self discipline through them and to use my time more wisely.
    Love and hugs friend. Lisa. xxx 🙂
    http://alienhippy.wordpress.com/2010/09/05/i-guess-i-am-the-crazy-cat-lady/

    • Ohhh Lisa!!! Cin…errr..Sammy, Kitty, and Holly. I love them all. Glad we are in that tribe together – the one of having a tender spot for furry felines AND that God finds ways to stir our hearts and wake up lessons for life in these creatures. ~ Buckets of Blessings my friend

  2. Amazing Sherry… truly amazing. You have a real gift… both in Dupee and in your writing.
    It is true… one of the biggest, and hardest, lessons in life is how to live a life of love knowing that you can’t keep it all with you. Loving and knowing how to let go. That is hard. Some, perhaps many, would choose to not love… not get attached so as to not suffer the heartache. But what then do we lose? Only everything! And to try and take it all with you is to be so weighed down with stuff and making others unhappy for our own sakes… selfish.
    Thank you for the reminder to live a life of love… knowing that it will cost… but also that it is abundantly worth it.

    PS… may God bless you with a new ministering angel in your new location.

    • Thanks Jer. You summed it up so well. I honestly think I’m being upgraded from cats to people… I always get started (gracefully and mercifully) with baby steps.

  3. Love this story. From a “literary” standpoint it has such depth, layers, symbolism. Just as poignant – the story you lived. Your humanity, compassion, detachment, internal conflict. Those of us who try to live our lives in the present can relate. Those who have been wounded can understand. Those who try to do what is right can feel the angst. Dupee is obviously the teacher and still has work to do under the pines. And for you, what a blessing to have met such a swirly, drooly, strong and fuzzy teacher. Hugs!

    • Thanks Michelle – yeah, Dupee has taught me much. This morning my heart kinda aches for him… but tonight a new boy comes into his life and it is well with my soul.

  4. This was an answer to prayer I’ve been asking God: A cat or dog for my boys…We’ll be getting a cat–probably two.

    But I thought that was all this post was going to be for me until this line:

    “…not everything we love—we keep. And that in many ways departing is okay.”

    That broke me.

    As I write this I am surrounded my photos of my dad and making thank you cards for those who sent flowers, gifts, etc for his memorial service…

    I catch myself glancing at the photos of him and feel the ache of missing him…and then I read your words:

    “not everything we love–we keep.” And the ache goes even deeper.

    Someday, maybe, I will believe “that in many ways departing is okay.” But not today–just not there yet.

    Thank you Sherry.

    • Know that when I finished the post…and re-read it, honestly I thought of you, and how it’s not always pets. It’s homes, finances, relationships, cherished items, and yes–loved ones. I’m struck by how everything we get is borrowed–and how it’s our choice to love wholeheartedly, without abandon. And the wholehearted are brave and courageous. And I keep learning through my life and others, that to not have loved is a deeper hurt than the loss. Hugs Pixie, you’re doing right. Take all the time you need, there are no rules.

  5. {{{{Hugs}}}} my friend. Beautiful writing on your journey with Dupee and in life. And yes, the “…not everything we love—we keep” was the tear clencher for me. Your wriritng always moves me in one way or another and today was no exception! Thank you for providing a bright spot in my week every Friday!

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