February 14, 1995 – January 27, 2012
June 21, 1997 – December 25, 2012
I had a dream of you dear Nikita. Isabella, your friend of many years, had been sick when you enter my night. They told me in November that she had cancer. After you passed in January of 2012, I wondered if Isabella felt sadness like I had. Grief that leaves you flat. I wondered if Isabella knew that you had departed. I contemplated when her time was coming. I feared it would be soon – Isabella was getting up there in her age. I feared she had a broken heart as I did when you left us Nikita. Since your passing, I hadn’t felt any signs of your presence around the house, though wished I would. I hadn’t dreamt of you though I have been looking.
In the beginning of December, at last you visited me. I had stopped looking.
In this dream world, I was sitting on the F train in New York City in the orange bucket seats. It had rolled out of the West 4th Street station heading toward the Broadway and Houston stop. I had no sense where we had come from or why we had gone out together. We were going home to Brooklyn. The F train struck all my senses as real and not the dusty clippings from memory. There was no sound. No screeching of the rails as it turned to the left or talk of the people around us or the doors clattering along the line. The train car felt real to me as the impression of riding this line for 10 years is stamped permanently within my vision. You sat in my lap. I did not have a carrier for you, and though I feared you would get away, it was not on your mind to leave.
The train was above ground instead of below. This is the reality of the dream world where the alteration from our experiences in our waking life momentarily confuses us. It is when we accept that that our dreams are a reflection of the other lives within us that we have no reason to be afraid. Lives we have lived or lives that are still yet to be. Through the window, I witnessed the melding cacophony of buildings, trees, sidewalk, and people. It blurred in so that I was unable to discern details. Images become elementary shapes and lines. I could not look at them. It was as if this world outside the window did not belong to me. You, though Nikita, were familiar with this place. The details were clear to you. Your focus was undeterred. Your interaction with this ‘other’ was within your domain, a life I have not yet come to know.
You meowed and sang on your own volition. You behaved not how I wanted you to or how I would imagine you to, but as you are. It was as though my subconscious was not conjuring or puppeteering this dream state. It was then I realized that this dream was yours. Not mine. I was a passenger momentarily within your sphere fortunate to now understand the significance of your coming.
I could feel your hair. Warm Grey. Smooth and full. You talked – your meows varying from shallow and soft like a kitten to long guttural ones. The intonation and lilts in your speak were expressive and they moved me. Your eyes widen, the jade green in them intensifying when you saw something or someone that you knew. The angelic white under your chin felt like cream when I rubbed my fingers there. You were plush, full and restored as I have hoped you would be.
Our closeness had not faded. It was as if we had not spent nearly a year apart. Like we never lost the pieces of each other. Love had not dissipated as I fear in my waking life. You never left. We were as close as we had been, and this deeply stung my heart. You were still my kitty. We still belonged to each other. Peace quenched the corners of my being in a way I have not felt before. It was sublime.
I wanted to press you in and to take you with me. Before we reached our last stop to go home together, we unexpectedly got off the train. You did not want to. I frantically searched for a carrier or a box, so that I would not lose you. It was in this panic that you disappeared. The dream world stopped and the waking life began. I sat up in bed. Heaviness was on my legs like you had just been sitting there. I got out of bed expecting to see you. What lingered were the edges of you, the euphoria of your visit. I know you had been there. It was real.
My every day is ordinary – I go to work, stop at the grocery store to buy dinner, pay the bills. Only, this day after you visited, I felt affected in an extraordinary way. I petted Isabella that morning while readying myself for work, made her breakfast, and told her I loved her as I do every day. I worried about her constantly. She was always quick to purr when I rubbed her neck, her ears, and the sides of her face. Isabella seemed content that morning. I put aside my sadness and my horror about the inevitable. I wanted to enjoy her and not remind her how sick she was. This was a promise we had both agreed upon. Isabella was always responsive to my voice – the assurance, the calm, and hope – it was my duty to instill in her an evenness of our last days together. It was my wish that Isabella knew that she was loved and would know this forever.
I told others that day about your visit. There is no money in the world that could buy the peace you gave. Yet, I had not understood yet why you had come. I could not understand why at this time, and I wondered if and when you would come again. I did not know, as you did, that Isabella was soon to pass on.
Miraculously, the next night, you and I visited again. Only this time it felt as though you were in my dream, rather than me being in yours. You intentfully kept your distance from me. I did not understand. You and I were on the F line. The train had just pulled away from the Bergen Street stop in Brooklyn, one stop before we reach home. You were in the front or the first car, sitting as you used to when you were in the in-between just before sleep. Your arms curled beneath you, your head tilted to the side, your eyes sliding sleepy, and the sly line of your mouth told me that you were at rest.
You did not respond to me though you were aware that I was near. You were perched atop a pile of layered embroidered cloths. Some of them had beads on them. I was 5 or 6 cars behind you. I was furiously trying to get to you by running through them. Only, the doors between them were locked. I had to wait for the train to stop at the next station when all the main entry doors would draw open. I would run out on to the platform knowing that I had only a few seconds to run to next train car before the entry doors closed and the train would speed out of the station.
Anxiously, I was waiting my chance to dart from car to car so that I could reach you. Anxiety. Fear. I was afraid of being left behind on the platform, and and that train would take off. I would lose you forever. I could not let this happen. I awoke. I never caught up to you, but I was still on the train. As I had done the morning before, I readied myself for work, petted and cuddled Isabella and made her breakfast. I went throughout my day worried about my Isabella. The dream left me disturbed and unsure.
On December 25th, 2 weeks after you visited me those two nights, Isabella passed away. She was straining to breathe and her heart could not take the weight of the cancer upon it. The only gift I could give her on Christmas was to hold her as she passed from one life to the next. Her pain had to come to an end. In that strangely intimate moment as she passed in to death, I recognized the instant she departed. I tried to be brave for her. I told her between the tears I loved her. Over and over, ‘I love you Isabella’. I assured her that in her last moment of this life though she would lose sight of me you would be once again her companion. The agony in losing her was no different than when I lost you Nikita. I still grieve for you, and now I endure the pain of losing the both of you.
On the 27th, I took Isabella to her cremation. I held her one more time. I pet her in those spots that she loved the most – the scruff of her neck and the insides of her ears. I felt the tickle of her whiskers on my skin. She lie there like a sleeping angel. Nothing in how she looked reminded me of suffering. I talked to her and cried heavy. Isabella’s hair was feather soft. Shiny. So soft. The stark white socks of her feet were clean and the pads were cotton like baby skin. The kiln had already been fired up. I witnessed the cleansing release of her. It was the finality of the fire that told me that her spirit was no longer trapped by the earthly torment of a body. She is with you indeed.
I drove from Isabella’s commemoration in silence. I arrived home – prepared a lunch to take to work with me. I wondered if it was a good idea to go. I slogged down the steps of my apartment, sloshed on some crusted snow, and started the car. I pulled out of the parking spot and drove down the road. Though you had visited me, time slowed down the days ahead of Isabella’s passing. I had not thought of those dreams in my waking life. On my drive, I suddenly understood them. I pulled the car over and remembered.
Like an angel of peace, you came to remind me of your gift. And that you had not stopped giving it. Love. You did not want me to forget it. Ever. You reminded me that I too can give this gift. In the advent of Isabella’s passing, you came to assuage the bleakness, to relieve, to heal, and to calm. Trust. You demanded this as there is good reason to do so. These things, the life breathe of our humanity, can not be contained to earthly confinements. We shall not ask this of one another. There is no price. It simply just is.
This is the first dream.
As much as I want to run to you, hold you, and never be apart from you, you warned me it is not yet my time. I still have life and lives to live. Crevices within the soul that are still yet undiscovered. I can not go where you are at. I am not ready to go home with you. It is not my time. Don’t be afraid or sad. When my time comes, it will be no hard search to find you. You will be there. You are already with me. As is Isabella. Don’t look too hard. Trust.
That is the 2nd dream.
We have not yet again shared our dreams. I do not know if we will again. You tell me to not look so hard. Love just is.