For years, it seemed that Merlyn was on the side. Although she was picked first, I connected deeply and immediately with her brother, Yoda.
Yoda transitioned when we lived in the haunted house, less than a month before their 11th birthday. Merlyn and I kept vigil in the neighbor’s backyard as he struggled, trying to remain in his body underneath the upturned row boat supported by sawhorses. At one point, Mer grabbed Yode by the scruff and tried to pull him out from under the boat. Unable to budge him, she sat sentry on the corner of the vessel’s bottom while Yoda writhed on the ground below. After he was buried, Merlyn sat on his gravestone, next to the catnip I’d planted.
She must have regretted tipping me off that her brother was earthbound. Every time I tried to send him to the light, she scolded me and he refused to go. When a friend finally came over to do the job, Mer hid under the bed, knowing that Caroline required all embodied beings to be out of the house while she worked.
We forced the cat out and closed the pet door. When it was all over and my husband and I returned home, our pet was nowhere to be found. Hurt, outraged and grief-stricken, she stayed out until the wee hours of the morning, even though the rule was that she must be inside before dusk.
A few months later, we moved to the mountains. Once, as I sunned myself in a lounge chair, Merlyn complained loudly at my side.
“Do you want some food?” I asked her. I rose to go inside, and she promptly jumped onto the chair to lie down.
When I divorced, I rented another haunted house. Merlyn assisted me as I performed the ghost-removal protocol. I couldn’t see the ghost, but my furry friend was acutely clairvoyant. When the spirit tried to escape my efforts by fleeing to a bedroom, Mer showed me where it went, so I could complete the job.
For the next few years, I was very isolated. I experienced pronounced spiritual expansion and I put a lot of effort into discovering who I was becoming. Ever loyal, Merlyn offered me companionship, guidance and, in the loneliest of times, a reason to keep going. As my psychic sensitivity increased, we became more deeply entwined. Once, as I prepared to go to work, I was struck by a wave of nausea. As soon as my cat vomited, I felt fine.
We were together for 17-and-a-half years. The last two years were difficult for us both. Out of necessity, we moved from Colorado to the Twin Cities to Amarillo and back again. Mer hated traveling, and the road trips were hard on her.
Two nights before she died, I took her skin and bones to an animal emergency clinic and demanded that my companion be given subcutaneous fluid. The doctor recommended she be put down then and there, but I couldn’t let her go so suddenly. The following night, she purred as I sat on the floor, gently stroking her underside. Overtaken by sleepiness, I got into bed. Mer climbed up the cardboard box stairway I’d made for her, intending to lie beside me. She’d never liked snuggling too closely, and when I rolled over to touch her, she jumped off the bed, fell on her face and broke a fang.
I buried Merlyn in the woods behind my sister’s house, along with a furry toy mouse, some raw hamburger, and her catnip carrot. The funeral was quick and I was unable to mark her grave with catnip. I felt unsettled about her burial for several months.
Sometimes, big, powerful spirits come in small packages. Since she left a year-and-a-half ago, I’ve felt Merlyn’s presence and communicated with her many times. This spring, I visited her gravesite and noticed a familiar member of the mint family growing there. In collaboration with God, my sweet and magical cat planted catnip on her own grave, to send me a sign that she loves me, and all is well.