Friday, May 4, 2018

Witch's Familiar by Christine DePetrillo

I've been known to do witchy things. I love nature. I grow stuff. The moon fascinates me. I like spells and incantations. I believe in the power of intention. I wear crystals and stones when I need protection or healing or just an extra boost.

Maybe I own a cauldron...

And up until last month, I spent 18 years with the best black cat witch's familiar in the world.

This is Shikari. She passed away in April and there's a hole inside me. I know she was paired with me for specific reasons. Our souls were destined to cross paths. We gave things to each other that we couldn't get from anyone or anything else. We told each other secrets.

I miss her terribly.

From the first day we got her, she had such personality and buzzed with energy. The word "shikari" means hunter and she did slink around like a miniature panther, making prey out of leaves blowing in the wind, mouse toys filled with catnip, and coils of ribbon. We grew catmint in our back yard so she could roll around in kitty bliss during the summertime.

She was a talker too. She had meows that sounded like "mama," "now," "hello," and "no." You can call me crazy (you wouldn't be the first), but I have people who can back me up on her vocabulary skills. She always seemed to use those meows in the right context too.

The house is so quiet without her.

I come home from work, and though I have my dog and another cat to greet me, it's not the same as hearing Shikari meow "hello." She made us smile and laugh. Though she wasn't a cuddler, she'd pop onto my lap for a few minutes and do a quick check in, headbutting me and purring loudly.

In her later years, her health really declined and it took a great deal to keep her going, but she continued to wake up each morning and demand our attention.

Until her fire finally burned out.

And even then, she was considerate in how she left us. I had scheduled a vet appointment because it was clear that she was nearing the end of any brand of comfortable existence, but the decision plagued me. I felt such extreme guilt. Like... who was I to decide her fate? She rescued me from that guilt though by dying two days before the appointment. She actually waited for both my husband and I to come home from work. She allowed us several blessed moments to be with her and we literally watched her take her last breath. It was both heartbreaking and consoling. She was the first pet I ever owned and I felt her loss immediately, powerfully, but I also felt such relief that her suffering was over and that we hadn't had to actually put her down. She chose to leave. She'd done what she'd come here to do and would be bathed in peace now.

So I'm a witch without a familiar, but it was an honor to have owned (or perhaps be owned by) such an enchanting feline. If you ever get the chance to adopt a black cat, go for it. You won't be sorry.

You'll be bewitched.



Margo Hoornstra said...

So sorry for your loss. I know first hand how heartbreaking it is to lose a special animal friend. Take heart in the fact Shikari did crossover the rainbow bridge on her own terms.

Diane Burton said...

Your touching tribute reminds me of losing my first pet. I cried, the kids cried, even Hubs teared up. We all missed him. We had two more dogs after him. Not the same. I know the three are in heaven where they can run free. Maybe they'll meet up with Shikari. Hugs on your loss.

Jannine Gallant said...

I'm so sorry, Chris. Been there with two dogs. You simply feel empty afterward. I'm glad you didn't have to take her in because that is so rough. Maybe in time, you'll be ready to get another familiar. Not the same, but special in her own way.

Alison Henderson said...

I'm so sorry, Chris. I was lucky enough to be allowed to serve a remarkable black cat for nineteen years. He did his best to make it to twenty--OG always said the cat was driven by the desire to dance on his grave. He's been gone for twenty-two years, and we still talk about him all the time.

Christine DePetrillo said...

Thanks, everyone. She was a one-of-a-kind kitty.

Rolynn Anderson said...

Chris, two black cats have owned me...both outdoor types. Long life for Tyrone, the name taken from a student who taught me a great deal; a shorter life for little Garp, who followed me around like a puppy all his life. When my husband got sick during one of our boat adventures, it was Garp who kept me company as I single-handed the boat south (from B.C.) for 10 hours, docking it alone and then racing to the Seattle hospital to be with my husband. Garp never questioned my ability. These cats have a spiritual presence, I do not doubt. I miss them both.

Andrea Downing said...

Sorry for your loss, Chris. I was never able to replace my cat--we tried and the next one had such a different personality, and then I had a baby (see how long ago!!) I gave up. I feel your pain.

Leah St. James said...

I'm so sorry, Chris. Anyone who has lost a treasured pet understands your pain. I am also glad that you didn't have to make that awful choice, and that Shikari passed in the loving presence of her family.

Brenda Whiteside said...

I've never heard the term familiar used that way. I like it. Maybe I'm a witch at heart. I feel for you. When my dog Rusty died, my canine soul-mate, it was so hurtful. I'm glad you were able to enjoy her as long as you did.

Christine DePetrillo said...

I did tell The Werewolf that he better live forever.

RE Mullins said...

Writing helps with the loss. I'm putting my late Sabu, best dog ever, into my current book and find myself smiling every time I mention him.