DYING CATS and ANGELS
by MARY DE LA PENA [aka M.J. HATCH]
As a mystery writer and criminal defense attorney I deal with death on an almost weekly, if not daily basis. However death is always in the abstract, not real, only something on paper. Today, I witnessed death up close and personal.
I was on my way to court in the city of Riverside, California when I saw something in the roadway that did not make sense. It was moving, and was not a color that I associated with a blowing plastic bag or paper. As I slowed down I realized it was a cat that had more likely than not been hit by a car, but was not yet deceased.
Horrified, I drove for another block before realizing I could not let that poor animal remain on that busy street and be hit again, or worse yet, cause an accident as other drivers hopefully swerved to avoid it much as I had. I did a quick U-turn and drove back to the scene. Another quick U-turn and I pulled my car to the side of the road where the cat struggled. With no cars coming I immediately jumped from my car and ran to the cat, picked it up and took it to the grass on the parkway by the side of the road.
As soon as I picked up the cat I knew it was probably a feral cat and was definitely in its death throws. The cat’s fur was dirty and his body was thin, with the trauma to its head most likely mortal. One of his eyes was dislodged from its socket, and his skull was partially crushed. But yet, he struggled to survive, his instinct was to run, but the signals to his legs only strong enough to cause them to stretch and contract. It broke my heart, yet I could not leave him alone to die.
I whispered quietly to the cat, and stroked his fur, imagining that I was the first human hand that had given him this sign of affection and security. To my amazement he began to purr, his last breaths coming with his brave attempt to prove he was still strong. Seeing that his death was near I found myself crying, and then praying that God would take this blessed animal and bring him into His loving arms. With the prayer sent to Heaven, the cat’s breath came slower, the contractions in his legs stopping, with one last breath expelled as a purr, he transitioned to God.
Seeing his blood on my hands, and knowing that the cat was now beyond pain or hunger or fear, I felt my tears stream down my face, my strong impersonal persona of criminal defense attorney crumbling. Yet, even with my tears I heard the voice without a voice tell me that I had acted in his stead this morning. I was this animal’s angel in death to help him transition with at least one loving hand on him as he passed.
We never know when we will be called to be that angel. Just know that every living thing needs love and a loving hand when it passes. Just remember it is truly blessed when you are the one called upon and know you have the strength.