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Inspirational Essays

Sniffles

Sniffles was a wise and wonderful lady whose wisdom was apparent in her large yellow-speckled eyes. She had an amazing healing talent and always knew when she was needed to tend to our ailments. From her humble beginnings in a barn in Oregon, she became an integral part of the family. She preferred vegetables to cat food, attempted to open closed doors by turning the door knob, and, in the last year of her life, even taught herself to "go" in the bathroom toilet. That final feat was quite amazing since we made no attempt to teach her to go anywhere but in the litter box, and were astonished to discover her new habit. Even at age 16, she was healthy and alert until the last. That painful day when I held her in my arms for the final injection, I didn't plan to see her again, but I was mistaken.

Sniffles came back to visit me three times after her death. The first visit was the night she died. It was one of those experiences that occurs when you're not quite awake and not quite asleep. She appeared and urgently insisted that I join her on her journey. Suddenly, I felt as though she was pulling me through the air, through the mist and clouds far above the earth. As we traveled, I looked down occasionally to see water or land, a view not unlike that from a jet flying through the clouds. At first it was dark and frightening, but I soon became more relaxed. I could sense her strength, but I knew that she was still unsure and anxious. She needed, or at least wanted, me to help her through her transition. I became aware of five or six cats floating through the mist with us. We both knew they were there to assist her as well. Sniffles and the other cats slowly disappeared and I fell into a deep sleep.

The second night after her death, she appeared again, but this time the visit was a bit more vague, a bit more distant. But, she was clearly there, and accompanied by even more cats. I felt much less apprehension on her part, and I knew she was adjusting to her change in consciousness already. This brief visit possessed a gentle mystical quality.

Her third and final visit was on Christmas Eve, two weeks after her death. It began in the early morning hours of that bright and sunny day. I was still in bed, but more alert than during my previous encounters with her. I began to envision the dining room on the level below the bedroom in the house. There sat our 15-year-old cat, Buffy, staring out the window as she had done daily since Sniffles' death. On the deck outside I saw a cat, a fat healthy calico, walking toward the window. I was amazed how much this cat looked like Sniffles. Then, she looked up at me, and I recognized those beautiful yellow-speckled eyes. It was Sniffles. She had completed her transition, and returned to reassure me, and Buffy, that she was well and happy. How fortunate I was to share her spiritual journey. This was a profound experience, one that still brings tears to my eyes. She has given me a beautiful gift. I love her, I miss her, and I thank her.

--Lee Channing


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