On my birthday in 1971, I received a gorgeous little black and white kitten, whom I named Sheba. She loved everyone. She knew that people came to the house for the sole purpose of adoring her. She always ran to greet them, and she was never disappointed in their reaction. She was a beautiful kitten who grew into a beautiful cat. She was easy to talk to and seemed, even as a kitten, to understand what I said. When I told her I had something for her in the kitchen, she would head immediately for the kitchen to find what surprise I put in her dish. Her idea of a kiss was to touch noses. At night, she slept at my feet.
As she grew older, it seemed that I could understand what she was trying to tell me. I received mental pictures from her in answer to the things I said to her. They were always relevant to the subject being discussed, but I was never sure it wasn’t just my imagination creating an interesting conversation.
After she had been outside one day I held her on my lap, but she cried when I touched a spot on her flank. I said, “Sheba, what’s the matter?” I got back a very clear mental picture of a pointed cowboy boot catching her in the side and kicking her away. It was the first time she got the idea that not everyone loved her as she thought they did, and she sought sanctuary in my arms for her disappointment and pain.
One day, as an experiment, I walked outside calling Sheba in my mind, not verbally. Sure enough, in a minute she arrived at the door, looking as if she had just awakened from sleep. Her expression said, “I’m here, what do you want?”
Another time, a few years later, she came in the house and settled on the rug in the bathroom. She didn’t come out for three days, not even to eat. I knelt down to pet her, but she meowed piteously when my hand came near where her tail met her rump. I knew she was dreadfully ill, but she didn’t respond to my question, “What happened?” I prayed for her, and gave her all the healing I could with my hands, and visited her freuently where she huddled in the cool dark room.
Finally, on the third day, when she allowed my hands to touch the swollen tail joint, I got the distinct picture of a gang of boys. One of them had picked her up by the tail, swung her around his head, and let her fly. I was horrified. Never would I have thought anyone could do such a thing. But the image was real and unmistakable, and she was definitely injured in the tail area.
Sheba traveled with me on visits to see my children in California. She didn’t really like traveling, but she tolerated it. She knew, however, that eight o’clock was quitting time. When we’d slow to turn into a motel, she’d jump on my shoulder from the back seat, eager to be released from the car into the relatively more expansive motel room, where she’d run and leap with freedom from confinement. If the motel didn’t show up before the appointed time, she’d jump on my shoulder. Looking out at the darkness, she’d say, “I can tell time. Can’t you? It’s time we stopped traveling.”
Eventually, I moved from Arkansas to California to live with my daughter, Lydia. I was visiting my daughter JJ when Sheba, then 12 years old, became very ill and couldn’t keep food down. I knew I had to make a decision for euthanasia. I stayed with her at the vet’s with my hand on her back until she went to sleep, then I cried inconsolably and mourned her for a year. A couple of weeks later, Lydia and I moved to Eugene, Oregon.
The next year I visited again with JJ. She brought out the cot I slept on and put it in the corner of the room where I slept. Her two black cats, Isis and Sebrina, always welcomed my return and loved to sleep with me at night. That night, after I crawled into bed and turned out the light, I felt one of the cats jump on the bed. It walked up within touching distance of my nose, then down to my feet to lay down-only to arise immediately, walk up and curl next to my solar plexus. Curious at the amount of walking up and down, I turned on the light to see if it was Isis or Sebrina. There was nothing there! Isis was sitting on a chair across the room, grooming herself and ignoring me entirely. I knew I’d had a visit from Sheba.
I turned out the light and said mentally, “Hello, Sheba.”
She answered, “I haven’t seen you for a long time.”
“I live in Oregon now.”
“I don’t know Oregon,” she said.
I tried to explain by giving her a mental picture of our traveling from Arkansas, but I said it was in a different direction.
She said, “Don’t you want me with you anymore?”
My heart broke. “Of course I do. But I don’t know how to get you there.” She seemed to say she was coming back soon, and I told her to let me know where she was, and I would do my best to find her again. Then we drifted off to sleep, surrounded by the love we felt for each other. I never heard from or felt Sheba with me again. Perhaps we both got to say good-bye. Strangely enough, Isis slept on the chair all night, instead of coming to my bed as she usually did.
That experience was too unorthodox for me to believe it wasn’t real. Sheba was an amazing entity, and I know that wherever she is, she is love incarnate. Maybe I’ll find her again some day, and I know I’ll recognize her no matter what skin she is wearing.
-Korra Deaver, Eugene, Ore.
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