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Autism: Where Do They Go?

13 Feb

The sound of an animal jumping on the bed. The weight as they pressed down beside me. I turned, and saw the shadow of a cat. Reaching out, I whispered, “Hello Ditch.” The other cats don’t come in the bedroom. My dog was asleep at the end of the bed, on my husband’s side. Trying to pet my cat, I found air instead.

Strange.

I could still feel the pressure. I could still see the shadow. But my cat was not there.

Four years ago, she died in my arms. My beautiful Chiku, who had been part of my family for nearly sixteen years – from a week before my son was born. She deteriorated quickly, but didn’t seem to be in pain. I knew she was going to die, and I had to go to work.

Chiku

Coming home, I was sure she would be gone, but she had waited for me. So I picked her up, and held her while I cried. My husband didn’t know how to help. He tried, but he didn’t understand. She was there my entire adult life, and it was gone so fast. I wasn’t ready. I never could have been. Likely I never will be.

I wasn’t going to get another. It hurt too much. We still had China, who was about to turn fourteen at the time. We also had our dog, Gryffindor. We had several rabbits and guinea pigs left. We didn’t need more animals, and what was more, I couldn’t deal with the loss.

For weeks I saw her… sitting in the closet, on the bed, walking in the hallway, lining up her little stuffed animals, as she always did. I saw her. Not directly, but out of the corner of my eye. And I missed her. And it hurt so much.

So to ease the pain, I asked my husband for another. She was advertised free on Craigslist. A six or seven year old Siamese cat, who was loving, but shy. (I would have known how old she was, but they weren’t sure.) We brought her home, and she ran into one of the bedrooms. Up on the bed, and planted herself there for six months. Pretty, but unpredictable Finn. It took her years to settle in, but she seems happy now.

Finn

Still I miss my “Doodle-girl,” and still I see her sometimes.

But usually I only see her out of the corner of my eye. “Where did you go?” I whisper into the air. Like all the others, I saw the moment she was no longer in the body that had failed her, but where did she go?

Even faith doesn’t help me here, as the Bible is quite silent on what happens with the animals. True they were there in Eden, and saved on the ark – but not all of them. There is mention of them in the new Earth – but which ones? I desire so much an answer that will bring me peace, but all I am met with is silence.

And the cat on my bed, who I could feel standing beside me, but was not really there. On the path to sleep, our minds play tricks. In the beginning, I wished her away, fearing I was losing my mind over the grief.

Now, however, I pray that she will stay – that all of them will stay – and that although their bodies are gone, I would know they were with me still.

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