A firece kitty died on Thursday...on September 25, 2008. He was 13 years old and his name was Oreo. In 1995, we chose Oreo on our way home from our vacation at Camp Tuolomne in the lower Sierra's near Yosemite. He was the son of feral cats in the country up north and needed a home. He was named by his young mommy, dear Maddy, for his white tufts on his chest and after her favorite cookie. I can still see Maddy holding both sides of that dark cookie while she licked off the creamy white surgary center.
This dear old cat had stature, presence, spunk...his nature was playful, loving, loyal, fierce! As a warrior, he energetically would head out every day to the pasture for hunting and often proudly brought back mice, lizards and even a snake to share with the family. One day I watched a coyote walk up the hill near my outdoor deck and knew Oreo had just headed that direction. I became concerned as he ran down the hill with the coyote on his heels. But he flew up a redwood tree, and I swear I heard him chuckling as he looked down at that coyote who couldn't follow. It was just another day in Oreo's life. He had his share of battle scars; a tattered left ear and periodically absesses on his neck. His spirit was loving and loyal. He would follow me around like a puppy dog when I got home from work, running up and down the stairs with me as I changed my clothes and got some dinner. He would play with me as I moved through different yoga postures. Those are some of the moments I shall savor and will notice when he is not here.
As a teacher, he taught me the importance to follow my nature, to be wild when necessary, to stay close to loved ones, to know when independence and alone time was vital to my spirit. He would curl up on top of my feet each night when he slept, that is, after he had kneaded my chest, got some good loving, and shared his purrs. He gave me his fierce strength and courage at times. He disappeared for five weeks after I moved to another home. I didn't want to give up on him and was fearful he was gone forever. Many people prayed for Oreo, and loved him. Having a strong renewed sense I would find him, I called throughout the neighborhood one more time and it worked. He was much skinnier but still full of his powerful will to survive. We returned to our old home where he needed to be to live out the last few years of his life.
Today as I lay in a yoga posture, I sensed a large black presence. Thinking it was the yoga teacher I opened my eyes but no one was nearby. And then I knew. Oreo had just walked around me in his usual manner.