It's taken me nearly a year to compose myself sufficiently to tell my brief tale, but it's one that begs to be told if you have ever loved and lost a pet.
The beach is a place I go to walk alone, to think, to contemplate, to generate ideas. and to seek peace. The morning after we lost our beloved cat Taj, who had blessed our lives with joy and companionship for nearly 16 years, I again sought the solace of the beach so I could be alone, think about her as I had during the many long months we nursed her through her illness, and experience my grief in the place I find most comforting.
As I was walking along the shore, my vision blurred by tears, a solitary seashell caught my eye. Fittingly, it was a cat's paw shell. Unlike the others, it sat alone in the sand separated from all the others, and it blazed with an intensity I couldn't ignore ... an almost fiery orange glow that was impossible to miss. I veered from my path to inspect it more closely, and as I touched it, I could hear Taj speak as clearly and surely as if she were human and still at my feet:
"Please don't be sad. I left this shell for you so you would know that I've reached heaven safely. Thank you for always being my friend and for taking such good care of me when I was sick. I'm well again, and I'm very happy. Please be happy too. You will always have my love and gratitude, and I know you'll always love and remember me."
I knelt in the sand, clutching the shell to my chest, and rocked and cried until I could cry no longer. Then I put the shell safely in my pocket and carried it home.
The shell no longer glows, but the memory of that moment on the beach will stay with me always.
April, 1994 - January, 2010