Willow’s story is short and sweet, just like her life. I acquired Willow in the same fashion I have adopted most of my cats; she was unwanted. Her first owners clearly singled her out as the most undesirable of the litters they were trying to get rid of. They spoke of her with contempt because she had long hair, and they were clearly neglecting her social and emotional welfare. Without hesitation, she came home with me and not only found a place in my home but in my heart as well.
Willow and I shared a bond so strong that words cannot begin to express the intensity of our connection. If humans and animals can be soul mates, we were most certainly that to each other. She knew how to read my emotions and I knew how to read hers. She was always there to greet me when I got home and the first to crawl into bed with me at night. Willow was a very vocal cat and she would follow me around meowing whenever she needed me for something. Funny, I always knew when she just needed cuddle time and I was happy to oblige. The look of love in her eyes when she looked at me made me melt every time.
Looking back over her lifetime, I realize she wasn’t always the healthiest of cats I owned. She had frequent bladder infections and required surgery to remove bladder stones at one point and time. She was on a special diet which she hated and I always felt like she was being deprived of something because of it. Days before her death, she was being treated for another bladder infection. While we were sitting in the vet’s office waiting to be seen, I remember feeling so grateful that her issues paled in comparison to the animals who were in crisis that evening. In the days that followed, she was not getting better. I knew something was wrong. Her breathing was labored and I didn’t like the look in her eyes. We made another trip to the vet, and I reluctantly accepted the idea that she just needed pain medication this time around.
The next day, I was talking to my sister about how concerned I was about Willow. I even cancelled plans to go visit her because I didn’t want to leave Willow alone. My sister suggested that I meditate with her and ask her what she needed and that, I thought, was a brilliant idea. Sadly, she went into acute respiratory distress before I could do that and I rushed her back to the vet. Willow had a heart disease that was never detected in routine exams. Everything was done to save her life, but Willow had other plans. It was her time to leave, and I had to let her go. Making the decision to euthanize her was like asking me to kill a part of myself, but I loved her and I needed her suffering to end. It was done.
A day or two after Willow’s death, I found an ad in the local newspaper advertising a Reiki class. I had wanted to take a class for several years, but I couldn’t afford it. This particular class was not only affordable but was being offered by a woman who loves animals. I knew in my heart that Willow was sending me a message from spirit and I honored her offering. And so my healing journey began.
On a brighter note, Willow still visits me in spirit. She was famous for turning my printer on in the middle of the night because she liked to sleep on it. Even now, my printer goes off in the middle of the night and when that isn’t enough to convince me it’s her, she purposely knocks over the dish I have kept with her fur in it. Willow still lives on. Maybe not in body but most definitely in spirit and in me.
This is how The Willow Connection came to be.