Lady Molly’s history is a secret to us. I often wonder where she came from, who her mother was, and if she had a chance to love her as I did. She arrived with her beautiful coat matted and knotted; she had a very sore eye, and she was exhausted and sick. I cringe to think of how she managed to survive, so young and timid and all alone in this world.
She lay so still on the kitchen chair beside me, recovering from her ordeal as I worked on the psychology course I was teaching at the time. I didn’t know then that I was in the presence of the love of my life.
I named her Molly but when we saw how dainty and lady-like she was she gained her title and became Lady Molly. I got to know the person beneath the cat.
She was full of life and energy, her head constantly darting this way and that looking at the exciting world. She was always engaged in something, playing football with a piece of coal or hopping a piece of straw or an apple core around the floor. She could climb up and down trees with more agility than any cat I’ve ever known. She could run so fast, galloping excitedly towards me with trust and love when I called her, scampering quickly in the back door when I would say ‘come fast Lady Molly, come fast’ or running ahead of me with her back legs bounding and bouncing off the ground like springs. I used to say that she was the fastest girl in the universe… the fastest, the best, the most gentle, the most intelligent, the most beautiful, and the most precious to me.
We had a language all of our own. I knew what she wanted to eat and where she wanted to go just by her tone of voice or how she looked at me. I would walk alongside her but when I opened the door to let her out she would look up at me, kind of beseechingly, maybe saying goodbye or maybe checking with me that it was all right to go out. She always had time for one last caress and hug before she left. We lived our lives harmoniously, our routines perfectly synchronised. The species barrier completely melted away and we were not cat and human, but just two people who cared deeply for each other.
We all loved her delicate ways, how she would sit at the table with us, dipping her paw into whatever morsel we gave her, or lifting it to her mouth with such grace.
She was always welcome… everywhere.
I loved the games she initiated. She would wait at the bottom of the stairs with me, almost as if she was waiting for someone to shout ‘go’ and then race up the stairs ahead of me.
She loved hide and seek and chase. I will never again hear the thud of her getting off the bed, her little feet tipping across the floor, her plaintive cry to come play with her, or her increasingly excited and loud flittering across the floor boards and down the corridor, begging me to get up and play, sometimes at 4 or 5am. I’ll never see her yawning face as she followed me into the bathroom at night, not wanting to let me out of her sight for a second. I’ll never see her outside the kitchen window as enthusiastic to get in to see us as we were to welcome her home. We’ll never hear her mannerly little squeak of outside the kitchen door. All the delight at finding her there is gone.
I miss the sounds of her, the smell of her, her voice, her touch, the weight of her cuddled beside me, the movement of her washing methodically before falling asleep. I miss holding her in my arms and having her tuck her tiny legs tightly into my hand (she weighed only 2.7 kilos). I miss the sight of her; I miss her face. I miss all of her.
I called her ‘the light of my life’ because she was the brightest, most loving, best person I ever met. No matter how tough life was, there was always the absolute delight of finding her outside a door, or standing beside me with her arms outstretched to me as I worked on the computer, or coming back into my room at night from a journey around the house. I often worked late at night and she would call me to come to bed until she slept when I would get up and creep quietly back to work. No matter how busy I was, I always had time for her and her needs. There was nothing I would not do for her. I planned my life around her. I think of all those mornings, some of them so recent, when it was time for me to get up and open the sanctuary but she would reach out for one more cuddle, holding my hand in her own as I tried to leave. I wouldn’t have left so soon if I had known how little time we had left.
She touched everyone she met and we are all distraught at her passing.
How many times have I heard her little voice calling a greeting to me outside, long before my eyes found her? The joy of meeting her never faded.
Delightful moments, thousands of them, day after day after day for almost 8 years. The memory of them will sustain me forever.
I couldn’t pass her without kissing her and burying my head in her soft little body to tell her how much I loved her. She often woke with me lying right beside her, watching her, and she would yawn and stretch, as if delighted to wake up beside me. She felt absolutely comfortable and safe with me. How many animals are so afraid of us that they cannot get a moment’s peace in our vicinity?
I think about the huge passion for life that she had and about all the things she loved, some of which I placed with her in her coffin: a full moon, going out at dawn, playing at dusk, the scent or feel of the grasses and flowers that she passed in the fields that she would run her nose along, sniffing delicately, nature programmes, Alpro soy yoghurt, a windy day, rolling in the snow, catching autumn leaves, and bright, frosty mornings.
Molly taught me that species does not matter. She didn’t have to be human for me to adore her. What matters is the nature of the person. I treasured every second of every day and night that she was with me. I also spent our seven and a half years together in gratitude for her, hardly believing my good fortune to have her in my life. That mindful treasuring, savouring and gratitude is one of the precious lessons she taught me.
I could never bear to think that Molly would suffer. I would not have harmed a hair on her body. I adored every single cell of her being. I loved her, exactly as she was, unconditionally. I wouldn’t have changed a single thing about her. As a psychologist, I spent hours looking at her contemplating how anyone can harm their own child or anyone vulnerable, innocent, and dependent. Molly taught me that harm happens in the absence of unconditional love: when our respect and care and love are conditional on the other being a reflection of our own wants and needs, rather than who they are in essence. The world needs more unconditional love.
The depth and ferocity of my love for Molly grew to encompass the animals I used to eat. She laid the foundation stone of Eden.
She taught me how to do sanctuary work; to help the most fragile and hurt, to stay focussed on their wellbeing and to remain able to leave my heart open knowing that it will be broken time and time again as I do what is right.
This world is a lesser place without her precious being that filled all our lives to overflowing.