Magic, Mysteries & Pawprints On The Heart

As many of you know, our dear Gris Gris died last week and I’d planned a tribute today but fate had other plans. A wicked snowstorm buried all evidence of the burial last Friday and I felt  emotionally snowed under. Odin, whined to go out early yesterday morning and I thought nothing of it. He loves the snow and I snuggled back under the duvet. When I got up, something drew me to look out the window and this view greeted me.

Cat paws in snow

The butterfly marks the spot of Gris Gris’s grave and the footprints are Odin’s. I have no doubt he wanted to visit his friend.

It feels light-year’s ago but last Friday was sunny and warm enough to dig a grave wearing autumn clothing. When Coco, Merlin’s sister died three years ago I was determined not to repeat the same digging fiasco. We tried digging in half dozen spots only to meet stubborn roots and resorted to a less than ideal location by the barn. When a big tulip tree uprooted during a Nor’easter two years ago, the remaining root ball created a perfect burial mound. The tree stump sat on a lush mound of ivy, sprouted daffodils in the spring and day lilies in the summer. A small cave-like opening revealed enough space to bury ten cats but I only wanted a spot for Merlin. I silently cheered: a space fit for a cat god and no digging required.

God and Mother Nature had other plans. Gradually the designated “burial mound”  flattened and sunk. Last summer Odin loved nosing about the earthy hanging roots and I noticed the burial space had shrunk drastically. As long as there was enough space for one cat, I was happy. It never occurred to me the one cat would be anyone other than Merlin.

Odin cave

When Gris Gris died, digging the hard ground was out of the question. Hubby began clearing the earth by the burial mound but some large roots blocked the opening. Here we go again. If nothing else, if you ever plan to bury your pet, please prepare well in advance. The box we planned to bury him in wouldn’t fit through the opening. The only solution was scrapping the box and wrapping him in a cloth. But the cloth proved bulky and that meant more digging. I lost my temper and hubby stormed off. Great. So, I’m on my knees, the cold, damp earth seeping through my jeans, furiously digging with a garden trowel, tears stinging my eyes. One day I’ll find the humor in the scenario but not yet.

Thank Bast, the bundle fit. I’d brought a Tibetan singing bowl for an angelic sounding send-off and said prayers. Before hubby filled in the opening with earth, I decided to take a few last photos. The early shots, before placing the body inside looked normal but the last one had orbs surrounding him. I’d like to think they were angelic helpers assisting Gris Gris to the great beyond. Any earlier anger evaporated and a peaceful aura settled around us as the low winter sun set.

Angel orbs

While going through the Gris Gris photo files, I came across so many wonderful images I’ve never posted, I decided I couldn’t do him justice with simply a slapdash collage. I’ll put together something meaningful with other stories in time but most of my energy is going into writing my book on holistic pet loss. For those of us who actively document their cats’ lives with photos know how every image is precious once our subject is gone. Bloggers know how healing it is to write about their pets but

Every cat has a story and telling and re-telling their story is a healing balm during the grieving journey.

These aren’t the best shots of Gris Gris but they are last ones taken while he was alive and well. I studied them closely for any hint of death whispering in the wings but noticed no clues, at least not yet. His death, like his life remains steeped in mystery. We happily sat on the sofa watching The Sound of Music five days before his final exit. He liked to sit near me but kept his usual aloof distance. Domino loves watching TV and usually sits on the nearby chaise but not this time. Odin napped in his heated Sleepypod oblivious to The Hills Are Alive…while Merlin sat (out of frame) on the chaise. A cozy family scene days away from being shattered.

cats GG, Domino, Odin

The last shot outdoors. Does Domino look concerned?

GG Domino cats

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gris Gris, my magic cat. The last shot of him facing me, if not directly.

Gris Gris

To be continued, like life.

64 thoughts on “Magic, Mysteries & Pawprints On The Heart”

  1. Such beautiful pictures and a lovely tribute to Gris Gris…when they leave us so unexpectedly it hurts in a different way..our Simba was shot in broad daylight..unexpected as we never got to say goobye..the choice was taken from us .he died at home but before we said our farewells..our Merlin we had to say goobye to just three months later..it hurt in a different way again as he had been sick with Feline Aids ..and the fact we were still grieving Simba’s loss made it almost unbearable..we decided to sell and move after Simba’s brutal death…the day we decide on this house i dreamt of Simba..i saw him running here full tail (he lost half a tail when alive) and happy.. i knew we made the right choice..i believe your Gris Gris was indeed visited by Odin…they know far more than us..sending love ndhugs at this trying time Fozziemum xxx

  2. My heart goes out to you. Every loss is painful and heart wrenching, but the sudden ones are so much more difficult. No time for good-byes or to come to accept the inevitable. We lost both Thelma and Twinkle that way and Madison with only thirteen days notice. Gris Gris has such a lovely place to rest which you can visit often and his spirit will be with you always. We are all so blessed to have these very special creatures as part of our lives for as little or as much time as we are given. May your memories sustain you during this sad time. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers and look forward to you future posts about Gris Gris and your book. Hugs, Janet

  3. This is such a beautiful tribute to your Gris Gris. Before I read the first line, the photo gave me chills. And then I read the first line.

    Comforting purrs to you and your family. Furries and all.
    Fly free sweet Gris Gris.
    love,
    GG

  4. That was such a beautiful tribute to your beloved Gris Gris, Layla. We are all teary-eyed here. No joke.

    I think you’ve found a perfect resting spot for him. Surely you are right about the orbs being angels!

  5. Such a moving and beautiful post. I automatically thought Gris Gris when I saw the footprints.
    Silly me. His last picture is moving.
    Grieving is such a difficult process, many pursss to help.

  6. Telling about the stories does help in healing….the photos of Gris Gris are beautiful and I love the one of him facing you. I’m sure Odin wanted to visit Gris Gris at his grave.

  7. I truly understand how such a loss can feel. This time last year Mewdy Blue was recovering from his near-death collapse and I was taking a needed breath of relief. Little did I know that it would be Question who had to leave the next month, rather suddenly, instead. He was always healthy, never a problem. But that horrific disease FIP came into being within his system and took him way too quickly.

    Now Mewdy Blue and Lady Butterfly are both gone as well. And it is almost too much to handle. Sky Voice is the last of his colony remaining and I can tell he still mourns the others.

    That picture of snow in your yard is just beautiful, Layla. I think snow is the one redeeming quality of this season. It helps to costume the brown, dormancy of the land and make things much brighter.

  8. What a nice tribute Odin had for Gris Gris. Cats know these things and I think cats are very spiritual beings who have an innate sense of our sadness, sickness and the loss of their buddies. He probably could sense where Gris Gris was buried by smell and also by that innate spiritual ability. I hope you are doing okay. Hang in there and I hope the year gets better.

  9. No doubt in my mind that Odin wanted to pass the time of day with Gris Gris. My crew will spat everywhere in the house EXCEPT the table where I keep the ashes of our Angels, and I think there’s a reason for that.
    I hope Gris Gris’ spirit will visit you and give you comfort.

  10. I’m so sorry your Gris Gris made plans and told no one. He’ll be sorely missed. After Nicky & Autumn passed, TW looked through recent pics of them and could see how unhealthy they looked, even though it seemed sudden. She’d never noticed their decline. Comforting purrz.

    On a different note, one of my Twitter furrend’s huMum passed away after Christmas. Jessie will never tweet again and no one knows if a family member took her or if she was send to a certain death in a shelter. Life continues.

  11. This is a lovely tribute to Gris Gris, and the burial place looks perfect.
    When Flynn goes out into the garden, every morning without fail he walks over to Eric’s grave and pauses there for a few seconds before walking on. He has taken on a lot of Eric’s mannerisms that he never had before. I don’t know if he is making a conscious effort to do that or if it is Eric letting us know that he is with Flynn and so with us. I feel his presence often and also hear the floor creaking as he heads towards our bedroom. I know it is not Flynn because he is already on the bed.

  12. Such a beautiful tribute to Gris Gris. We’ll always ask if there was more that we could do, but the important thing to remember was that you loved him and provided the best care. Treasure your photos because they’ll bring back those happy memories.

  13. I’m sitting here crying, your words are so beautiful. That photo is so poignant. Tara will have been gone for six months this coming Tuesday and I stink have to write about her. She is still such a huge piece of my heart.

    1. Melissa, there are no rules about writing about the grieving process. It floors me how some pop out eloquence on day one. I know I couldn’t. Some takes weeks or months and blogging is another story. If you can jot down notes in a private journal, that may help your process. Sending you puurrrrs.

  14. At first they need us, and then we need them.
 Gris-Gris will always be with all of you.
    Wishing you comfort and peace during this difficult time.
    Kisses
    Nellie’s Mom

  15. I found your post very moving and so befitting of your beloved Gris Gris. One thing stood out for me personally, as to how I relate and how loss has affected me. It was this line which you bolding emphasized:

    Every cat has a story and telling and re-telling their story is a healing balm during the grieving journey.

    One thing I noticed repeatedly in trying to ease my pain of loss was that it was (IS) extremely important to the process of mourning to retell stories over and over and over. It’s not that you are being maudlin, you are actually celebrating their life and yes there are tears and yes there is sadness and yes it makes your heart break, but in this process it also heals your heart. You are sharing them as if they were (are) here. I see their death now as an extension of life, a different life, but a spiritual life, they are still with us Layla, and you with your special skills feel Gris Gris with you I know you do. Only his earthly body left, but his lifelong Spirit remains. He still has lots of stories to share.

    Hugs to you.

  16. There is no doubt that cats leave paw prints in our heart and I look forward to reading more about Gris Gris. Even though my Jazz has been gone for months, I feel the need to include him in my posts. It remains therapeutic for me and I know he has not quite left me. As you know, I see his presence about me – it has lessened to some degree, but yesterday he came back to me very strongly and stayed longer than usual. Not sure what he is trying to tell me, but I am certain there is a message for me…

  17. When the time is right we will all be here to hear and see Gris Gris’ story told. There is a reason why you cannot do it yet and we will wait.
    We think that hubby may be hurting more than he may admit to and that could have contributed to the loss of temper. The burial spot is purrfect for a Muse like Gris Gris. You might think that Coco’s resting place is not ideal but we believe that there is a reason why she and the forces around us chose that spot for her.
    We hold you all and everyone else that has lost a little soul close in our hearts and prayers. We send purrs,love and soft kitty kisses to you.
    Love Skeeter and Izzy and the Feral Gang + Twig and Peanut and Romeo >^..^<
    I am so thankful to have them all.

  18. we’re sure you didn’t see Tipp’s “Touched by an angel” post with everything going on, but you’ll see that we KNOW that those orbs are very, very special things. Sending you love and purrs…

  19. Lovely and loving post Layla….That’s a rather magical burial spot for Gris Gris and I would imagine that one day – hopefully far away – Merlin will be able to join him there with no great amount of digging as it looks like a “cave for two”. I think that photo of the snow and Odin’s footprints out to visit his friend is so dear. The boys were quite close while still being so very different from each other in every way. They feel the empty space like we do. This incredible cold spell makes us want to hold them closer though doesn’t it…..Will look forward to more photos of Gris Gris – your magic boy.

    Hugs, Pam (and Sam)

  20. Just finding out about Gris Gris passing… My thoughts and purr prayers are with you.

    Our feline companions are so amazing – how they know things. When my grandparents passed away (1999), our family cat, a Russian Blue, wanted to head west toward the cemetery miles and miles away. At least that’s what she tried to tell Dad and me. When I told her that it was too far away, she looked up at us and then trotted back to the house.

  21. I’m sitting here in our kitchen at quarter of two in the morning heating up snuggle discs in our microwave because it’s so cold outside and my outdoor cats need a little extra warmth in addition to their electric heating pads. I just read your blog about Gris Gris’s internment and suddenly I’m grateful for my small inconvenience. It’s in the middle of the night and I’m tired and it’s chilly in the kitchen….but I’m very content. I have suffered pet loss too, many times, and there is no pain like it. I am sending you and your household healing energy and love. This was a beautiful piece Layla.

  22. What a lovely site to buried, and I’m sure Gris Gris had something very important to say to Odin. I look forward to regularly seeing photos of Gris Gris, and he will always be a part of this family of felines. It’s so strange when death comes that quickly and unexpectedly, I think of you in your journey.

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