you & me

Saying Goodbye: The Healing Power of Love.

{Photo credit: Elle Newlands}

 

I understand now. You came to teach me this. A scrappy rescue kitten, who grew into a cat with deep empathy and the ability to make others feel seen.

A being who, despite her tiny form, filled up larger spaces with her good heart and her strength of mind.

I understand now.

I understand that asking for love from people who can’t offer it is a waste of energy. It depletes the soul. It fills up the heart with unnecessary pain and suffering. And that’s not how the heart wants to beat. It wants to beat with purpose. It wants to radiate inner love and let that find its mirror on the outside. It wants to be taught how to live without protections and hurts and to trust and grow.

It wants to beat with connection. It wants to beat with resonance. It wants to find peace and comfort in others and expand and contract with their love, their understanding, their simpatico. It doesn’t care what size or shape the other heart is, it just wants to find its familiar vibration, and when it does, it beats at the same frequency and it feels easy.

You don’t question your differences. You embrace them and you work together because it feels natural. And it always felt natural for me with her. She was equal parts gentle and fierce, but she was always fair.

I understand that the gift of love is in the lessons it teaches you. It’s in the spaces you find yourself and see yourself reflected back. And if that reflection makes you question if you’re good enough or ask that you change yourself to fit, you recognize yourself and you thank it for the reminder to love yourself more.

Love shows you that you are accepted, you are whole as you are and you are always welcome. It asks that you show up for yourself first and not ask it of others. Love from others creates a nook and it fits into you, without force or loss of self. Its compromise comes in the silent rearrangements you make to allow its form to fit yours. And the best part is, you don’t even notice. It happens because it’s right and it’s easy.

But often we struggle to allow this or see this. We are often only capable of accepting from others the same amount of love we hold for ourselves, so sometimes we miss a connection. Sometimes we push away what we can’t see or feel because we are convinced that love isn’t for us.

With animals, it’s different. They open hearts and encourage empathy and introspection, simply because they don’t have the ability to hurt us the way humans do. They mend the pain and the suffering we carry and allow a safe space to channel. They are sacred vessels.

Holding Maya as she went home, I finally understood my heart. It slowed down and it found hers, and we sat there, our hearts silently beating for one another, as we had done for almost 18 years. As she slipped into twilight, I suspended my grief for a while and I shared her energy one last time. I breathed with her and I felt her vibrancy and aliveness before it was gone forever.

And then I felt it. I felt the expansion of my own heart as she passed all of the love she held in her little body back to me. I felt the gift of love that we had shared being sent back to me and I allowed my body to store her.

Her final gift before crossing was for me to receive all that love she felt. She didn’t take it with her. She poured it into my body and she left me with immense gratitude that I was chosen to receive her life wisdom — the tiny little cat with the huge life force.

And then she was gone.

I held her body for as long as I could still feel her. The sterile vet’s office, filled with light. My heart still warm, from expansion. My body growing stiff and sore but unable to shift positions, in case I lost the connection. I stayed there, smiling through deep sobs. The contradiction of grief. Deep pain tempered with deep gratitude. Deep sorrow, sewn together with threads of joy. Love fighting off the inevitable pain.

I understand my heart now. I understand that it beats for those who can hold its love, including myself. Most importantly myself. To hold others delicately and give back, just like Maya did. Perhaps she had no need for all of that love, in whatever beautiful place she has journeyed to.

Perhaps she knew that my need for it was more pressing, so she downloaded it into my body, leaking all parts of herself into my emptier spaces.

She is gone, but at least for now we were bonded in this final moment of passing and she gave us forever.

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Elle Newlands is a hybrid, which makes her complicated, but she is okay with that. An actress, photographer and writer, she spends her days juggling characters, words and pictures. Originally from Scotland, she is currently enjoying the sunshine of California, where she hikes with her dog, rides her horse in the mountains and talks to nature. You could contact her via Facebook or Instagram.

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