After seeming to drive in circles, I arrive at a local Animal Shelter, have a Noon Animal Deeksha in the parking lot and go inside to volunteer with either walking some Dogs or gathering some info for a program (Homeless and Animals) in development… or so I thought. I have 30 minutes before the car is to be returned.
As I start to ask a few questions, a Homeless Lady walks in the door. She asks, “May I go get my Cat, Patches?” The Shelter worker states, “We do not have Patches here.” And so I begin witnessing a conversation of where and what happened to her Patches. Then, it is realized…Patches was in the care of a friend while the Lady went to the hospital. It seems Patches herself was also extremely ill, found to be contagious, and once she began sneezing blood was brought to the Animal Shelter having to be euthanized.
This Homeless Lady has just gotten out of a week long stay in the hospital, walked numerous miles to get to the Shelter to see Her beloved Patches and has just learned that She is gone. She is in shock, then in denial asking clarifying questions, and it briefly shifts to anger.
It was admirable how calm and ‘gently firm’ the Shelter workers were at doing their best to explain what happened and the grace that was bestowed upon Patches because of Her condition; however, Patches was all this Lady’s Animal Companion. She was what got her back from the hospital, and what motivated Her to come all the way to Shelter.
She is not here. There is no body. There is no burial site, no closure. it was becoming evident, no will to move forward. She is grieving and lost.
The words begin muttering out of my mouth, ‘What is your name, please?’ She responds and I share, “I am an Animal Chaplain and it would be an honor to pray with you, for Patches. We can have a little Ceremony for Patches, if you would like.” I will not forget those sorrowful eyes looking up at me from that chair, as seeming spark of glitter as She sputtered through Her tears, “Yes, please.” So, I ask if we can go to the pet cemetery.
We walk together past Her grocery cart, which only had 2 small empty yogurt containers, a cup of coffee and a bouquet of flowers. I ask if She would like to offer the flowers to Patches.
Honestly, I was not sure what I was gonna say or do; but I knew that if this was me, my Animal Companion, I would be in need of a compassionate hand to help me move forward. So, I took Her hand. She had Flowers in the other hand and as we walked, I asked Her to tell me about Patches.
She shares with me the last time She saw Patches before entering the hospital. How faithful Patches was all these years. How She promised She would be back for Her. And even how sorry She was for many things.
We entered the cemetery, and stood before an Altar of Cat statues, took turns speaking our prayers and found a safe place for the Flowers to be honored in Patches name. I fell in Love with Patches. I fell in Love with this Lady. And even more so, I fell in Love with the Love they shared.
As we walked back out, She stated, ‘I don’t know what I would have done if you were not here and I surely don’t feel like going to this 4 o’clock appt I have to be given a little permanent place. It is supposed to be a little apt for Patches and me to stay. I have no reason to go now. What am I going to do now.”
It was as if Patches was speaking through me next. It went something like: “You did come back for Patches. Patches loves you so much that She made sure you found Her so you would not be worrying about what happened. You are such a strong and brave woman to make it out here where this Shelter is. Don’t you believe that Patches would want you to go to that appt? Get that place? She wants you to get that apartment so you have a good place for Her to come back to you through another body. Patches will bring you another heart to love, and to love you as much as She loves you.”
I recall sharing with Her that it is by no accident that our Higher Power orchestrated us meeting to honor Patches and what our Animal Companions do for us in our lives.
As we make it back to our ‘vehicles,’ She asks for a ride, willing to leave the cart behind and states, “I’ll be right back. I must go inside and apologize to the Ladies.” I waited in admiration, once again for her kind thoughtfulness and willingness to ‘keep things right’ even in a moment like this. This is definitely one who has worked a 12-step program.
As we reach the parking lot in town where we go our separate ways, we share our gratitude with each other. And while holding hands we make a few promises…promises of hope for the days ahead, promises to the ‘Patches’ we carry in our hearts, and promises of another Animal blessing our lives as we keep our hearts open to accepting the Love that Animals know we are all worthy of….Thank you Great Spirit for our Natural Guidance and synchronizing together so eloquently for exactly what all of our hearts need, when we need it, and how we need it.