It’s been nearly two weeks since we put our cat Poupon to rest and I have a new appreciation for those who have lost beloved animals. The grief is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced and the depth is equal to the pure, unconditional love we experienced with our little guy.
As painful as this loss is, and it sucks, the life we shared with Poupon was well worth it. Michael and I agree that adopting him from a shelter more than ten years ago was the best thing we’ve ever done together.
This week, I’m sharing an entry from Waking Up in Winter: In Search of What Really Matters at Midlife, due to be released on December 19th, about how we found Poupon.
I’m passionate about animals and I’m a strong advocate for rescuing those in need of forever homes. Although, when you read this excerpt, you’ll discover something important rescuing an animal.
This entry was written after returning from a busy two-week speaking tour in Europe.
I’ve just awakened from a long night’s sleep to find the maple tree outside my bedroom window pulsating with light. From the horizon, a fiery sun ignites branches reaching toward my window. What a show! For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a love affair with light. I crave sunny days. As I work, I shuttle from room to room in search of sunbeams to sit in. Moonlight holds the same attraction.
Lying here with Poupon by my side, I stretch and smile at no one, feeling a wave of relief wash over me. It’s good to be home. While our trip was wonderful in so many ways, I’m ready for time to myself, and for the comfort of my own bed. I look forward to sitting out on the back deck wrapped in a soft blanket, staring off into space as my cells drink in the vivid colors of a New England fall. No wonder I feared not getting home in time to catch this autumn show. As I sit here in bed staring out at the luminous maple, I’m filled with such gratitude for the little piece of heaven Michael and I have created for ourselves here. The barren branches of winter will most certainly have their own beauty. I’m just not ready for that yet.
The trip home was a long one that began with a familiar drill. Pack up the hotel room. Separate dirty clothes from clean. Fold and roll items so everything fits neatly in the suitcases. Go through drawers and closets twice to be sure nothing gets left behind. Run through the last-minute checklist to ensure we have what we need. Passports. Money. Itinerary. Even though my mind was barely engaged, I felt a new level of fatigue land in my body.
Thanks to the time change, we arrived home in the early afternoon, and the ritual began in reverse. Unpack clothes. Throw in a load of wash. Visit the Natural Grocer to get healthy food. Make green juice. Go for a long walk. It’s interesting to note that as I engage in these tasks once home, I feel energized rather than fatigued. I actually get energy from cleaning up, creating order, and stocking the fridge. These rituals are like little anchors that fasten me to my life here; the comforting routines that welcome me back to the place my soul needs most right now.
By 9 p.m. I was spent, and fell into bed hoping for a good night’s sleep. No sooner did I curl up and begin to drift off than Poupon joined me. Unlike some cats who ignore their owners when they return home from a trip, this little guy attaches himself to my hip.
I still remember the day we found Poupon, a tiny, blue-eyed ball of gray fur, at a local no-kill shelter. Someone had dropped him off that morning, and he was only a few weeks old. We showed up at the shelter after months of my begging Michael to consider bringing a cat into our home. More familiar with dogs, Michael was also in the throes of depression at the time, which meant he had no interest in adding more responsibility to our already overburdened lives.
But I was desperate for some kind of brightness. I’d grown weary of the perpetually overcast days that accompany depression, and I pleaded with Michael to at least consider the idea of adopting a cat. He finally gave in and agreed to visit a local shelter. As we walked around the room filled with kittens, a young man handed me this tiny boy, and I held him like a fine piece of china. When he started to purr, I handed him to Michael and watched as this fuzzy wizard cast a spell that claimed Michael’s heart before his head had a chance to intervene.
We’d found our bright light.
We couldn’t wait to bring Poupon home, and once it was safe to do so, we set up his temporary residence in the downstairs bathroom. We placed a small litter box next to the toilet and put a mini scratching post on the other side of the room. We added a soft, furry bed to the bathtub and threw in balls that squeaked like mice and other cat toys. For a time the three of us practically lived in that room. Playtime and training sessions merged into one as we swung feather-tipped fishing rods left and right and laughed for hours as Poupon bounced up and down on the floor. We marveled at how quickly he learned to use his scratching post once we strategically spread treats along its top edge. Before we knew it, Poupon turned into a timeless two-year-old, a sleek little jaguar with a plush silver coat.
In retrospect, I see the perfection of a divine plan. We didn’t rescue Poupon from the shelter that day. He rescued us.
P.S.S. – This week’s Facebook Live Session will be held on Tuesday, November 28th at 6pm EST/3pm PST. If you’re not able to make it, you can find the replay on my Facebook Page and on my YouTube channel at CherylRichardsonTV here.