Many years ago I saw a fancy shopping bag or gift bag featuring a painting of a beautiful cat. It was a medium- to large-size bag, so the cat was life size and the color was realistic on every level. It was one of the most beautiful cats I have ever seen.
I remember the painting was so captivating that I felt like the cat’s presence and soul radiated from this image on this bag. I also thought it was strange that I connected with this image in such a powerful way. It was as if this painting came to life — and I was in awe over this beautiful cat printed on this bag.
I used that bag as long as I could until it disintegrated and was torn and tattered. Eventually I had to throw it out. When I used it, though, I looked at that cat on the bag and thought, “Wow, I have to have this cat.” I had a cat at the time. I pretty much have always had a cat — but not a cat on a bag in a painting that I wanted to come to life. I wished I was Jeannie in “I Dream of Jeannie” or Samantha in “Bewitched.” I wanted to blink or twitch my nose and have that cat appear!
Time went on and eventually I got over that cat painting on the bag. Life went on for many, many years. I never bothered to check or research the unknown artist.
And then one day, she came to life! It was so many years later and under sad and tragic circumstances that this ghost cat entered my life for real.
I met this really good looking guy who had bright blue eyes that were hard to look at because they were so bright and light, and he had a beautiful speaking voice. He talked like he had lived forever and knew everything. He had so many winning qualities and, yet, he was plagued and tormented. He suffered from mental illness and had been on and off drugs for years, both prescription and street drugs, and he used cannabis medicinally to calm panic and anxiety.
I met him when he was off street drugs and in the process of rehabilitating his life. His personal story was grand, and as our friendship grew I used to tell him I wanted to write his life story, but we never got around to doing that. I wanted him to dictate his story on tape so I could transcribe it. He spoke like a story teller, and his stories were long and detailed.
We lived in the same apartment building, I babysat his cat, my ghost cat, when he would go out of town.
When I first met Sidney she was so bright and light, like my friend’s eyes. She was mysterious and I could tell she was living in the light and the dark, just like my friend. We immediately bonded; it just took one look between us, and I was rescuing her as much as she was rescuing me.
My friend began slipping back into street drugs and was progressively getting worse. At this point, I also was concerned for Sidney the cat. My friend never neglected her — food and water was always provided — but at this point he could not take care of himself and was going downhill fast. He flirted with death for about a year.
I had no friendship with him at this time, because of his drug use and personality change, however, I hung in there with his cat, taking care of her when he left town. He always said, “If I die, I want you to have Sidney.” I used to tease him and say, “I love your cat — I’m stealing her.” This was a funny joke that we said for a long time.
Whenever I went over to get his key to see how things were going, Sidney would greet me. He said Sidney always knew when I was coming, because she would go over to the door. When I picked her up, she always buried her head in my arm. I have had a lot of cats, and she was special.
This cat smoked a lot of cigarettes and a lot of marijuana and probably a bit of crack — and who knows what else. She lived with an addict and all of his friends who used drugs, and this cat inhaled all these drugs.
At the end of my friend’s life, he was skin and bones and was a full-blown addict. He was a different than the man I had met. It was painful to watch him go. And he did. He died in the apartment building where he was a part of this community — and I still miss him. I can still see his eyes and hear his voice. His presence graces me quite often.
At some point, an eerie feeling swept over me, and Sidney’s beauty and spirit exactly matched that of the cat on the bag — the image that inspired both beauty and spirit. She had come to life. Sidney the cat became my ghost cat that, on a subconscious level, I must have summoned from the image on the bag. This was magic.
When a person who lives alone passes on, Animal Control takes the animals in the house — in this case, Sidney. Fortunately I was able to get my friend’s mom to sign over the rights to Sidney, via fax. I’ll never forget the difficult process of contacting this grieving mother the day after her son died.
Eventually, Sidney and I were home together. I never liked her name, but I honored my friend who named her — but since then I have called Sidney about 10 other names. Most of the time I just called her kitty. I force out the name Sidney a few times a day. Sid for short.
This cat has a list of gifts and magical abilities. I first noticed her ability to shapeshift. She would often appear to be sitting somewhere while she was somewhere else. This used to really play tricks on my mind, and then I realized she was slowly showing me her magic — and she did it gracefully; she did not want to shock me, so she revealed a little at a time.
I realized I had a real witch’s cat — the kind you read about in folklore and fairy tails. Sidney’s a bag of tricks. Her biggest gift to me was in helping me to quit smoking cigarettes. I had been a hard-core smoker for years, but I have been smoke free since September 2011.
Sidney is so sensitive, and because she lived with an addict who died, she seemed depressed when I smoked. Although I always smoked by a fan that blew air out the window, it still bothered her. Whenever I smoked, she stared at me and looked as if she were sad and crying. She made it almost impossible for me to want a cigarette. Wow!
Since them she has helped me become more and more aware of things about my personality and other habits. I feel as if we communicate clearly with each other.
There is no doubt in my mind that this cat was meant to come into my life. It’s like I dreamed her to me, ever since I saw the image on that shopping bag. I know it sounds a bit strange, but it’s true. I love her dearly.