Catrina

Two weeks after Frisky’s death, our neighbors, who lived on Elms Rd. across several vacant meadowed acres, called us kids to come over and look at their newly born kittens. Those neighbors had heard through the grapevine that we had just lost our beloved Frisky. They had a white female cat that I had seen at our place several times, trying hard to entice Frisky into a stroll through the meadow.

Most of the kittens were white with splotches of brown tabby but there was one who was the spitting image of Frisky. She had his same long, fluffy coat and tail and his exact tabby markings. Her little face even looked like a miniature Frisky.

We ran home so excited and happy! Our neighbors had promised us that we could have the miniature Frisky kitten as soon as she was old enough to be weaned if our parents would only agree.

We pleaded and we begged please, please, please let us have the kitten! She was meant to be with us, she was Frisky’s kitten, so we HAD to adopt her!

My dad was not at all happy to find out that it was a little girl kitten because then she would have to be spayed. My dad “was not going to have oodles and oodles of kittens all over the place that we would then all beg to keep as well.”

But when I generously told him that he could keep my allowance for the next 10,000 years to help pay for the kitten to be spayed, he finally relented. I was so happy! It seemed to me like Frisky had sent his kitten from heaven because he knew how sad and grieved I was over his death.

After 8 weeks of constant visiting our little Frisky with her mommy, our neighbors told us we could finally take her home. I gingerly wrapped her up in a little towel and proudly and happily carried her to her new home.

But what would we name her? Frisky Jr. was not a good name. My brothers and I went over many names but nothing just seemed to fit her until my mom told us, “Why don’t you call her Catrina, spelled with a C.” We looked at each other as we said it out loud, Cat-trina, Catrina, and that seemed like the perfectly beautiful name for our beautiful little cat.

Catrina grew up looking more and more like Frisky all of the time. She had his sweet, gentle nature as well. And like Frisky, she slept with me on my pillow whenever she was in the house at bedtime.

My dad still persisted on Catrina being an indoor/outdoor cat though. She didn’t roam as much or as often as Frisky had done but I still panicked a bit whenever I couldn’t find her after I came home from school.

When Catrina was 6 months old, my dad took her to the vet to be spayed. She recovered quickly and didn’t have any problems, which relieved me to no end because I had never had a girl cat before or had a pet that had ever had surgery. I was way more protective of Catrina because of the traumatic loss of Frisky.

When Catrina was almost a year old, I woke up in the middle of the night, crying uncontrollably from the horrible nightmare I had just had. My wailing woke my mom up, and as she sat on my bed, she listened to the awful nightmare details.

I told her that I was outside searching for Catrina. Then I saw her on the shoulder of the road, looking as if she was sleeping. She was exactly between the edge of our property and our mailbox, with her head pointing towards the mailbox, and her fluffy tail stretched out behind her, pointing towards the property line.

I tearfully told my mom that as I walked across our lawn from our porch, and then walked closer to her up the ditch towards the shoulder of the road where she lay, I kept calling her name, trying to wake her up.

But she wouldn’t wake up, and as I finally reached her, I knelt down and touched her and she was cold and stiff, just like Frisky had been when I had found him.

She couldn’t be dead, but she must have been hit by a car, and so I was confused because there was no blood or anything. Catrina still looked like she was just sleeping. And as I scooped her up to take her back to the house, I started crying just as hard as I had done for Frisky. That’s when I had awakened to find that I was crying for real.

My mom soothingly told me, “It’s okay, it was just a bad dream. Catrina’s all curled up, safe and sound, right next to you. It was just a nightmare. You probably dreamed that because you love Catrina so much and of course, you don’t want to lose her and feel as sad as you were over Frisky. It’s okay, it’s okay, Catrina is here with you.”

I began to calm down and as I pet Catrina, I told my mom how real that nightmare had been, but she was right, it was just a dream and that I was sorry I woke her up.

My mom gave me a pat, turned out the light, and I went back to sleep, grateful that the seemingly real had been just a bad dream. Catrina lay cuddled next to my head on my pillow, all warm and purry.

The next day as us kids were getting ready to catch the school bus at the end of our driveway, the telephone rang.

My mom answered it, said uh-huh, uh-huh several times, then she said thank you for letting me know, good-bye. Then she astonished us as she told us to go ahead and take more time with our breakfast because she was going to drive us to school.

My brothers and I looked at each other in surprise but we took advantage of the little bit of extra time by leisurely eating our breakfast instead of wolfing it down like normal.

After we were done, we all got into the station wagon and my mom drove us to school, chatting away about anything she could think of. That was also unlike my mom, who was not a morning person. Keith even asked me as we walked into school if something was going on, but all I could do was shrug and say, “I dunno.”

When we walked into our house after being dropped off by the school bus, I immediately began to search for Catrina, like I always did. But my mom asked us all to sit around the dining room table because she had something to tell us.

My mom then said, “You know that phone call I took early this morning? It was Mr. Cogswell. He told me that Catrina had been hit by a car sometime during the night and that she was dead.”

My brothers gasped but I sat there in a daze, unable to really absorb what she had just said. My mom continued, “I went out while you were all eating breakfast, found her, and I wrapped her up in some rags we had in the garage and hid her body. That’s why I didn’t want you to take the bus, I didn’t want any of you, especially you, Jeneane, to see her lying dead next to the road.”

I still sat there, numb, as Eugene asked my mom, “Where’s Catrina now?” My mom told him that as soon as she got back from taking us to school she had buried Catrina back by the oak tree where we had buried Frisky only a year before. It just seemed right to bury Catrina near her father.

Keith asked her, “Why didn’t you wait until we got home so we could say good-bye to her?” My mom, now not taking her eyes off me, replied, “I thought it was best to do it myself, that with Frisky’s recent death, I thought it might have been easier for all of you to handle.”

She waited for any of us to say anything further, while giving especially me a very sympathetic look. I finally spoke up. “Mom, was Catrina on the shoulder of the road, just like I had dreamed she was?”

My mom shook her head as if still in disbelief as she replied, “Jeneane, that was the strangest thing. I walked down the lawn towards the road, exactly as you had described to me you had done. And Catrina was on the shoulder of the road, exactly like you had described: she was stretched out like she was only sleeping, her head pointing towards the mail box and her tail pointing towards the property line. There was no blood, no hint that she had been hit by a car. She looked exactly as you had said, like she was just sleeping. And I walked across the lawn, walked up the ditch and touched her to wake her up, just like you had done in your dream. But she was cold and stiff, just like you had felt. That spooked me so bad! So I thought it was best to take you all to school and then bury Catrina before you kids came home.”

My brothers then asked me, “What dream? What’s Mom talking about?” But I couldn’t answer them, I was too full of sorrow and a kind of fear that that awful nightmare, that had seemed so real the night before, had actually turned out to be for real. Like it had been an omen or something. Something other-worldly, something I could not wrap my head around.

Then I started crying so hard. If only I had left a note for my dad to not let Catrina out, she would still be alive! I had been given a very real, very scary warning and I had done nothing! So I started blubbering that it was my fault, that I should have done something to have prevented Catrina from being killed.

My brothers sat there, scared and confused, because they had no idea what my mom and I were talking about. My mom came over to me and hugged me and soothed me. She said she really did believe that I had had that nightmare to prepare me for Catrina’s death, that there was nothing I could have done to have prevented it, so please stop blaming myself. Maybe it was a good-bye dream from Catrina because she loved me as much as I loved her.

My brothers began clamoring for someone to tell them what was going on, and as I ran into my bedroom, crying, I heard my mom briefly tell them that I had had a nightmare the night before about finding Catrina dead on the road. That Catrina had been right next to my pillow at the time but she believed that I had had the nightmare to prepare for Catrina’s later death. And to not ask me about it, because I was already upset enough.

I stayed in my bedroom the rest of the day, trying to understand why I had had that nightmare, why did Catrina have to die too? It was bad enough that I had lost Frisky, so why did I also have to lose Catrina as well? I just kept wishing over and over that I had Catrina back, like she had been just a few short hours ago, all warm and drowsy and purry on my pillow again.

And it was weird the next few days with my family tip-toeing around, asking if I was okay. I knew that my mom was the more worried one and that she was deeply puzzled and perhaps, a little bit frightened like me, that I had dreamed something that had turned out to be such an exact predictment of what was to come just a little bit later that night.

I heard my dad tell my mom that yes, he had let Catrina out because she was begging to go outside just before he left for work at 5 am. She then told him what I had dreamed and that it had been at 3 in the morning, just a few hours before that. I heard him then tell her, “Maybe Jeneane has the sight.” And I had no idea then what he was talking about.

I eventually became very glad that my mom had been the one to have found Catrina, and had buried her before we came home from school. I think that I would have had an emotional breakdown or something if I had found her, and found her just like my dream had so frighteningly portrayed.

I still cannot explain why or how I had dreamed about Catrina’s death. Maybe it really was a good-bye from Catrina. Maybe it did happen to prepare me for her death because we only had her for such a short time after Frisky’s death. Maybe Frisky had wanted his daughter up in heaven with him but he wanted me to have a final good-bye and have the last few hours with her cuddled up next to me, purring happily in my ear.

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