On Friday, March 15, 2019, my heart was broken by the passing of my long-time feline companion – a beautiful, sensitive, happy and deeply loveable Birman cat named “Marcus”. He loved playing with feathers and beads and red laser lights and anything colorful! He closed his eyes if there was too much sunlight or a breeze brushed the fur on his face, and he meowed as loud as he could if you dared place his paws on the grass! His only desire was to be held like a baby, have his tummy rubbed, and be constantly kissed – in return for all that, be purred and purred and purred, and let you know how happy he was to be with you!
I had never heard of Birmans before 2001. And as such, I never knew what I was missing in life until I was blessed to have them as part of my family!
Birman cats are also referred to as “The Sacred Cat of Burma”. There is an intriguing legend which explains why. The legend refers to a time, centuries ago, in the Buddhist temple of Lao-Tsun in Burma – a temple built to worship a golden goddess (Tsun-Kyan-Kse) with sapphire blue eyes. The guardians of the temple, approximately 100 in number, were cats with yellow eyes and white hair, who were also believed to carry the souls of the temple’s departed priests. One day, while the head priest (Mun-ha) was praying, he and his temple were attacked, and at the moment of his passing, his beloved cat companion (Sinh) placed his feet on his master while gazing into the sapphire blue eyes of the goddess, at which point, the cat’s physical appearance was suddenly transformed: his yellow eyes changed to sapphire blue; his face, legs, and tail changed from white to earth tones; and only his paws remained white as a symbol of purity. Soon, thereafter, all 100 cats were also transformed into the same new physical appearance that Sinh had been transformed into. There are many websites that provide information on Birmans, and the following link is just one example of a place where you can find more information about these beautiful cats: http://birmancats.co.za
Two days before the attack on the Twin Towers in New York in September 2001, one of my cats had passed away, and a co-worker who raised Birman cats decided she wanted to ease my pain by giving me one of her Birman kittens. At the time, I still had another cat that was 13 years old, and I thought a kitten might be too much energy for her, and also, might need a companion of its own to play with, so I ended up taking home two Birman kittens! I named them “Isabella” and “Marcus”. Unfortunately, Isabella died two years later. ** Marcus, on the other hand, lived a good, long life of 18 years! In the time he was with me, I got married; lost both parents, a brother, and 4 more cats; experienced three US Presidencies; and retired from state service and the Naval Reserve! (**Note: After Isabella’s passing, we adopted a rescue Birman named Yum Yum, also born in 2001, who also lived a good, long life of 16 years and ultimately passed away in 2017).
In my almost 60 years on earth, I have lived with and loved many, many cats. I simply adore everything about cats, and I worship them for the gods and goddesses that they truly are! But in all these years, I have never experienced a cat quite like Marcus. It was as if he was born to be by my side and to remain my constant companion (perhaps, just like the temple cat, Sinh)! I think he understood that he was part of a long lineage of Sacred Birman cats, who express their love totally and completely to the humans they choose to support and care for! When I first brought him home as a six-month old kitten, he immediately hid under a raised recliner chair. So, for two days, I left the chair alone, and pushed food and water underneath it for him so that he could safely eat and drink, while I gently talked to him to let him know that all was well. On the third day, as I pushed food and water under there for him, he reached out a paw and placed it on my hand and began to lick my fingers, and after a few minutes, he slowly emerged from underneath the chair, meowing and rubbing against me with purrs and head-butts. From that moment on, he was always by my side! Everywhere I went, he followed me around – up and down stairs, back and forth between rooms, sat with me while I watched TV, slept with me at night (well, actually, for much of his life, he stayed up, it seemed, most of the night, just making sure to guard against any intruders!). He was a very sensitive cat who (until he got older and worried less) was too afraid to be around most people, and yet gradually revealed his love to any person willing to give him the time to warm up to them. He craved the attention my spouse provided to him, that involved lots of singing, cuddling and belly rubs. He brought my parents and my brother so much joy in the last years of their lives, and he was very caring and concerned for the well-being of all the other cats sharing our home who got ill and preceded him. And as he began to realize that his days, too, were getting shorter, he made very special efforts (despite his weakened state) to ensure that my spouse and I understood, intuitively, that he was leaving us and that he was ready to do so. But he also let us know that he was worried about how WE would be, and he made sure that he spent equal amounts of time with each of us in his final days so that there would be no regrets. On the day he was to cross “the rainbow bridge”, the weather had been cold and dreary much of the day, but about an hour before, the sun came out and he was able to lay in the brilliant sunlight and enjoy the fresh, crisp air one last time.
I noted in a previous post (“Animals and Unconditional Love”), that I believe that animals are messengers of the Divine, and I still believe that. They open our hearts by reflecting back to us the Light and Love that exists within every living thing, and they do this simply by being themselves without any pretense. They show us how important it is to remain happy and peaceful in the present moment, no matter what else is going on around us. They show us how to simply observe the world and contemplate its patterns without judgement; they show us how to be in the world, yet not be negatively impacted by it. And they show us that, at the end of the day, it is only their loving presence that has made the real difference in the lives of those they have touched. Marcus was a constant presence. He made a difference, and he changed the lives of every person he encountered (even people he had never met, but knew of him)! My little messenger of the Divine, is now with the Divine, where he and his ever flowing love can now have an even greater impact on all of us! I was blessed to have him in my life for eighteen beautiful years, and I am a better person now, because of him!