Five years ago today, a small tortoiseshell cat came into my home, and my heart, and changed my life in ways I never could have imagined.
Those of you who read Buckley’s Story: Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher already know that bringing her home was not smooth sailing for us. For those of you who haven’t, I’d like to share this excerpt about the day she finally became a full time member of our family:
It finally came down to one phone call from the animal hospital about a week later. A client had inquired about adopting Buckley. That was all I had needed to hear to make up my mind. On October 9, 2006, Buckley came home for good.
In retrospect, I realized how much my own misgivings and stress surrounding the introduction process were impacting the two cats. This time, failure was not an option. I got out of the way with my own worries about the situation and let Amber and Buckley work it out.
I picked Buckley up at the animal hospital in the morning. After saying goodbye to her friends, who were all excited for her, she quickly settled into her carrier, and she was quiet on the ride home. I kept reassuring her that this was really it—she was coming home to live with me and Amber for good.
When we arrived home, I let her out of the carrier, with Amber looking on. Both cats quietly checked each other out; then Buckley went off exploring the house under Amber’s watchful eye. By that afternoon, they shared space in the living room and took their naps with Buckley stretched out on the loveseat and Amber curled up on the adjacent sofa. That evening, after some hissing and posturing while I got their dinners ready, they peacefully shared a meal in the kitchen. They were in opposite corners, but once their food dishes were in front of them, there was no more fussing, just the happy sound of two cats eating their meals. It took only a couple of days before they both slept on my bed with me at night, and while they never got to a point where they would curl up next to each other, they enjoyed being in the same room together. Even though Amber might not have admitted it openly, I think she really liked having Buckley with us.
Little did I know five years ago just how much this little cat would change my life, but I had an inkling, even then:
…the process of bringing Buckley home, with all the emotional ups and downs it brought for me, is ultimately a testament to how much this little cat opened my heart. While there was no doubt that I was in love with her from the moment I met her, integrating her into my life at home was not as easy as it should have been, given how much I already loved her. I was set in my ways. I was used to having a quiet, peaceful home, and Amber was a crucial element of that peace.
Buckley’s exuberant energy and big heart required me to open myself to change. Initially, opening my heart in this way turned out to be an unsettling experience, which confronted me with some issues about change that I needed to face. While I was craving change in my professional life, I was too rigid and set in my ways and had always looked at change as something to be afraid of. Even though I loved both cats, I could not figure out how to let myself love both of them in the same space without shortchanging one or the other.
I had to sort out some of my conflicting emotions before I could welcome Buckley into my home without reservations. I needed to let go of the fear of change and the worry over how this was going to play itself out, and believe that my love for both cats would make this work in the end. This became a major lesson for me about adopting a different view about change. In the past, I had always resisted change. I had never believed that change is good and that things always get better. What a futile way of living, since change is such an inevitable part of life! I have come to understand that our lives always expand, we never go backward, and now I can embrace change because I know that it’s always for the better.
Thankfully, Buckley understood, and had patiently waited for me to be ready. She never gave up and never doubted that we would be together. Ultimately, love won out.
Thank you, Buckley, for being patient with my human limitations. Thank you for the love and joy you brought into my life. Thank you for the lessons that continue to enrich my life.