Aliza and Matisse – photo courtesy of Laura Kuhlmann

Guest Post by Laura Kuhlmann

Last night, I finished reading Buckley’s Story, Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher by Ingrid King. Although I had purchased this book last fall, it was too difficult for me to read, having said goodbye in November to our beloved boy cat Matisse, aka Mr. Boober, after his brave battle with lymphoma.

Ingrid’s book is more than just a story about a special cat named Buckley, for Ingrid touches upon many aspects of the human-animal bond, as well as the animal-animal bond, including intuition and communication, that really make one stop and think. This is a book that sticks with you after you finish it, and no doubt I will be reading sections over again.

Ingrid talks about her cat Amber “holding the space” which really intrigued me. Here’s a short excerpt, from page 86:

“…..I made sure that I paid enough attention to Amber during this time … She quietly held the space for both Buckley and me. Some people, as well as some animals, are masters at holding the space. It means creating a quiet, safe, and peaceful environment. By being completely centered and secure in herself, Amber focused her gentle energy on allowing Buckley and me to relax into whatever was happening and to find our own way through it with as little worry and fear as possible.”

This concept – holding the space – is what our cat Mr. Boober did in our home, especially with our two girl kitties Lulu (his little sister) and Aliza (for better or for worse, his constant companion.) But we didn’t realize this until he had passed away. The attitudes of the girls, and the dynamics between them, were suddenly all messed up. The girls didn’t know quite how to cope, because the one who had held the space for them was Boober, and now he was gone. My husband and I described Boober as the glue that kept the three cats together and content. Holding the space.

I am fortunate to have met Ingrid via Twitter (gotta love social media!) and we’ve become friends. Ingrid thinks that perhaps Aliza or Lulu might eventually step up to fill the void (and hold the space) but of course it won’t be exactly the same.

It immediately made me think of a series of pictures that I took last fall. Both girls were extremely attentive to Boober toward the end of his life when he went blind. Aliza and Lulu would stick close by him…taking turns cleaning him…just being with him. Aliza especially, who was literally hopelessly in love with Boober, rarely left his side. I wanted to take some pictures of the two of them together, although our digital camera wasn’t cooperating. When I came around the bed, I saw Aliza’s paw and arm on top of Boober’s. My heart melted, and I’m so glad I captured this moment. I think Aliza’s only concern was to provide comfort and serenity in the midst of some scary changes. I think during those moments, she was holding the space.

Laura Kuhlmann is the owner and designer of Petscribbles, a unique line of hand-crafted greeting cards for, from, and about pets.   Laura designs and makes the  artistic and upscale, yet fun, personal, and whimsical cards herself.   The cards are made to order in Little Egg Harbor, New Jersey, USA, and only the best cardstocks, decorative papers and embellishments are used.  Laura and her Chief Feline Officer Lulu pride themselves on using recycled materials whenever possible. Laura and her husband are owned by two cats: a 9-year old Ragdoll girl named Lulu (the CFO mentioned above); and a 15-ish years young formerly feral kitty named Aliza-Loo Doolittle. Aliza enjoys a fulfilling retirement doing very little work (aka Doolittle).

15 Comments on Holding the Space

  1. Thank you so much for this story. I lost my long-time companion, Cecil, in March of last year. That loud, incorrigible, loving, irreplaceable furball held the space for me as I moved on from a divorce, out on my own in more than 15 years, and briefly, through my transition to a new future. It’s amazing the impact one creature can have; I still feel his loss deeply. He was 15, and recently diagnosed with adenocarcinoma, when he passed. I finally had the courage to be a mom again and I adopted a new kitten recently but there will never be another like my Cecil.

    • I’m sorry about Cecil, Holly. It’s always hard to lose a cat, but when it’s a cat like Cecil, who has been with you through so much, it’s especially difficult. I’m glad you opened your heart to a new kitten, and I hope you’ll form a wonderful new relationship. I think Cecil is probably smiling, wherever he is now.

  2. Thank you Pat – I like that you call them “wonderful beings” for that is definitely what they are!

    Thank you Daniela for your sympathy. And thank you for sharing this link written by your friend. It did help, and I like the concept of “good grief” that she spoke about. I so appreciate you sharing it here.

  3. And that would be “thank” you, not “thanks” which means I need to take a short break…or I could blame one of the cats for typing this! 🙂

  4. Penny, you are so right that our lives are enriched with our furbundles. It is something so amazing to experience, yet impossible to explain to someone who has never shared their life with a pet. Their unconditional love and trust can teach us so much.

  5. Laura, it’s my pleasure to have you guest post here today, and clearly, your post is resonating with lots of people.

    Mason, I’m glad you enjoyed Laura’s post.

    Rena, it sure sounds to me like Omer is holding the space, and will continue to do for a long, long time!

    Penny, there is a lot to think about, isn’t there. And Amber would like to report that she’s alive and well 🙂 She held the space while Buckley was ill. Buckley passed away a little over a year ago.

  6. So much to think about. Thank you for your story, Laura and Ingrid.
    Amber and Mattiise are being honored by those that cared most for them. Our lives will be forever enriched while sharing space with a furbundle.

  7. Thank you Rena. Maybe having this idea that your Omer might be the one holding the space will help knowing this ahead of time. I wished we would have clearly recognized this before his passing.

    Thx also for your sympathy. Being owned by pets yourself, I’m sure you were a comfort to your mother when she lost her dog.

    (Love the name Twitch, by the way!)

  8. What an amazing story. I think that Omer, my Siamese, keeps the space between our rascal, Snoopy, and the old girl, Twitch. I can’t imagine what it would be like if something happened to him.

    I’m so sorry to hear about Matisse. You have my deepest sympathy. My mother recently lost her dog to cancer. It is really upsetting how hard this disease is hitting the animal community. It seems like I hear more and more stories every day.

    Keep blogging. I really enjoyed reading your post!

  9. Thank you Ingrid, for having me guest post today on your blog.

    And thank you, Mason, for your sympathy. I’m glad you liked my post.

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