Fraidy’s Death – An Unlikely Gift – Part II

Fraidy’s Death – An Unlikely Gift – Part II

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Dedicated to anyone who’s ever lost their pet.

While we were away I actually received a few calls, “Hey, I just saw your cat in my front yard” the lady five blocks over reported. I thanked her, explaining that he had returned home.

Damn, when I get back I’ve got to remember to take down any signs that are still up, I told myself; but I thought it was sweet that people were calling and I was thrilled that he was back to visiting his old haunts. So no red flags went up when we got a message mid-week, that someone had our cat.

“Please call me, it is very urgent that I talk to you. I think I have your Siamese cat.”

“Another Fraidy siting” I said out loud while Raphael dialed her back. Thirty seconds into the call I could tell by his face this one was different.

I remember we were sitting in the car, in a parking lot, but then I left my body as he gave me the news: this woman had found the upper half of a Siamese cat; an obvious coyote kill.

It had taken her days to reach us; for some reason his collar was missing, and as was his nature, that little shit was far from home. She had put “found cat” signs up in her neck of the woods, but it wasn’t until someone saw one of my signs and put two and two together that she had a number to call.

We went back, met her and her family, bringing pictures of Fraidy, just to make sure it was him. Of course, it was – but she really loved seeing photos of him alive and well.

This woman is an angel on earth, an animal LOVER and a mom.

Here is a beautiful letter she wrote to us after our initial meeting about my darling Fraidy and the gift he gave her family. This letter was Her gift to me.

July 15, 2006

“Dear Janet and Raphael,

It was very moving to meet you both. It’s strange to have shared something so personal with people I don’t know, and I’ve found myself wanting to tell you a little more about the day I found Fraidy. I need you to know – more than I was able to express when you were here – the gift your beautiful cat gave me.

Three days before we went on a family trip, my daughter’s dog Lulu, had been diagnosed with bone cancer. Our housekeeper, Angelica, stayed at our house taking care of her and all of our other animals. Lulu took a dramatic turn for the worse after we left town and died two days before we came home.

My daughter, Ivy, is 14, the same age as Lulu. She and Lulu were inseparable.
Everyone who knew the profound relationship between them believes that Lulu timed her death so Ivy wouldn’t be here to experience it. The trip home was one of the hardest of my life knowing that Ivy would walk in the front door and need to be told that her beloved soul mate had passed away while we were gone.

We got home Saturday night, June 24th. I was up most of the night consoling Ivy and woke up Sunday morning feeling completely helpless. I took our little dog for a walk in the neighborhood to try to find some peace with it all before the rest of the family woke up.

It was probably 7-7:30 in the morning. There are often lots of people walking at that hour, but on this morning the sidewalks were completely quiet. It was in this quiet, surreal state of exhaustion that I saw a beautiful Siamese cat in the yard of the home on the southeast corner of my street and Kraft.

The image that will always be with me was the peacefulness of his face. It was in such startling contrast to the attack that had been made on him. It was as though his life had been taken from him in the middle of a happy nap. When I petted his head, he was still warm, so I found him very close to when he died. Because he was laid so neatly in the yard, I can only assume he’d been carried there by a coyote who had been frightened off by something – maybe even by my dog and me walking down the street.

I ran home and came back with the car so I could wrap him in a towel, bring him home and keep him safe. (she put him in a large freezer in her garage) I came back later with Ivy to ask neighbors if they knew whose cat he might be, which is when we met Geralyn, the woman who later saw your sign which put me in touch with you.

I didn’t let Ivy see Fraidy, but she knew his death had been the opposite of how Lulu had died – inside, surrounded by our friend and other dogs. The experience of trying to help with someone else’s loss really helped her get through the first day.

When I hadn’t had any response to the signs we put up by Thursday of that week, I decided to bury him. I chose the back corner of our yard because it’s the most peaceful spot. It’s far from all the dogs, kids and gardeners, and is where I love to walk to get away from everyone. A couple of times a day there is a great shaft of sunlight that shines right where I buried him. I had a little service for him by myself when every one else was off at work and camp. (she is a famous illustrator, and she decorated a rock as a headstone with her art and his name).

I sat with him for a long time. The suddenness of his death put the suddenness of Lulu’s death in great perspective for me. The tranquility in his face reassured me of a greater plan, and gave me peace about our loss. It was as though he was saying to me that even this vicious attack couldn’t scratch his great spirit.

It is this message from Fraidy that has helped me help Ivy cope with losing Lulu in the weeks that followed. It has given me – and her – great strength. It’s made me believe more deeply that our next life is just on the other side of this one, and that animals travel between the worlds more easily and are certainly always around us to be our guides. The book I’m sending, http://www.amazon.com/Cat-Heaven-Cynthia-Rylant/dp/0590100548
was written for children, but is exactly how I imagine the next life to be.

I didn’t do anything heroic helping Fraidy find a resting place.
He gave me a gift I will never forget, and I am very thankful for him.
When I contrast his free life with the way our cats live – perfectly safe, but the closest they’ve ever gotten to a tree is to see one out the window – I think he was a very lucky guy.”

That he was.


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4 Comments
  • […] Fraidy’s Death – An Unlikely Gift – Part II […]

  • Diana says:

    What a powerfully moving letter; how smart of you to share it with your readers. It’s always interesting to me how a pet’s death can teach us so much about life and its value on a daily basis. Thank you for underlining how a tragic event in one corner can be viewed as an affirmation of life in another.

    • jbertolus says:

      Thanks Love! For some reason I’ve been reliving this the last few days, so I looked at the pictures in a scrapbook I made at the time, and found the letter. I knew I had to write about it. I’ve cried more for Fraidy in the last week, than I did when he died. I guess there was still a little pocket of pain left that needs to get released.
      Thanks for reading and the beautiful comment.
      xoxJanet

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