“what we have enjoyed, we can never lose…all that we love deeply becomes a part of us.”
—helen keller

one of the classes that i signed up for during the summer of 1998 was speech.

while preparing to try to convince my classmates to adopt animals from our local shelter for the persuasive speech requirement, i found myself spending a lot of time there—at first, just to gather information and to take photos. during one visit, a sweet, blonde-haired, blue-eyed feline demanded the majority of my attention and essentially invited herself to live with us. (smiling.) her presence was a fun and happy addition to our home. we were surprised when it became obvious, a short while after her arrival, that she was going to be a mama cat.

it was my first time being present during a birthing experience and, for the entirety of it, i was in awe. she delivered five perfect babies—all of which we had plans to find good homes for—none of which we had plans to invite to stay with us.

***

before the others could even walk, we heard him at the foot of the bed. his barely perceptible squealing was angelic, his bright blue eyes; piercing. i recall being amazed that he had managed to waddle his way one room over and to know exactly where we were at. we gently picked him up, placing him between us. in that second, i knew—without any thoughts, any considerations, any second guessing my heart—that he and i would be lifelong friends.

for eighteen years following, cody (or “kodachrome,” as i often call him) and i traveled together through new towns, new homes, new fields, new forests, new jobs and new people. while there were steps along the way that felt uneasy, i have always felt at home in his presence. the effortless, knowing way that he and i have communicated throughout the years is beyond anything that i can, or would really want to, touch with words. just one comes to mind in this moment; sacred.

he’s been my best friend and my teacher—helping to bring out the healer within me and playing an integral role in the ways that i interact with and serve the world around me.

i cannot count the number of nights, after everyone else was in bed and the house was quiet, during these past many months, that i’ve sat or curled up on the floor next to him and quietly sobbed. some nights, i cried because of an awareness of our imminent, yet temporary physical separation, but more often because of an awareness of change itself, of time, of depth and of vast, at times, unfamiliar-feeling terrain.

feeling unable to help when we perceive a very dear friend/loved one to be in need is probably one of the most difficult feelings for many of us to navigate around during this life. the most recent lesson being refined from my wise, feline guide is that sometimes all another soul needs is for sacred space to be held, and for a journey to be honored through allowance.

the lives of our animal friends are short, but we know this going in. we know that we’re going to feel pain. there is beauty in the rigid honesty of this—in knowing that we are going to experience a jarring wave of loss, yet choosing to wholly love and live joyful years alongside them anyway.

after spending the day by his side and knowing that his transition was nearing, i walked down to the pond last night to pray for his peaceful return to nonphysical. when i arrived back home, only minutes later, it was so.

right now, i don’t know the ways that missing his physical presence will be felt and processed during the moments and days ahead. what i do know is that i am, in countless ways, better for having known cody. for him having chosen to share 18 years of life experience with me, i am forever blessed and grateful.

later in the night, we spread out a blanket beneath the stars, lit a bundle of herbs, held hands and filled the night air with memories, loving words, gratitude for our time together and prayers for his continued journey.

dear friend,
forever and always, you are a part of me—and i am a part of you.
thank you.
i love you.

sweet, little cody and his mama.

sweet, little cody and his mama.

best friends.:)

best friends.:)

from blue to green eyes.:)

from blue to green eyes.:)

♥.

♥.

evan and cody.

evan and cody.

emory and cody.

emory and cody.

whether in the field or on the deck; never camouflaged.:)

whether in the field or on the deck; never camouflaged.:)

♥.

♥.

morning light, sweet sleep.

morning light, sweet sleep.

he is loved.

he is loved.