Lessons from Holly

My heart is broken this week. Those of you who follow my work know that I am an animal lover. I have 10 pets of my own, and am fostering four small kittens right now. I volunteer at the local rescue group every Monday, cleaning cages. The animals are very, very special to me.

We adopted a beautiful kitten in February – the first kitten I have ever had. I always adopted grown cats. Holly came into our lives and was immediately the Princess of our home. Her personality was larger than life, and she made us laugh. This past weekend – while we were away and our pet sitter was here – there was a tragic accident at our home and Holly was killed.

My husband and I have had a difficult time recovering. We both cry quite a bit and have really struggled to get past her death. This morning over coffee – and tears – we decided to talk about the gifts that Holly brought us and what we learned from her. I decided to share these for my blog this week in hopes that we can all learn from spirited, beautiful Holly. What lessons did she offer as her gifts?

(1)    Kindness. With 9 other animals in the house, someone is always fighting with someone else. Holly embraced everyone: She loved the dogs. She loved the other cats. She was always sleeping next to someone, cleaning them or following them around. Instead of saying, “I don’t know about those other pets, let me stand apart from them,” she just threw herself into the relationships and found something she could enjoy with everyone. (2)    Don’t worry – be happy. Holly was always finding a cat tree to climb, a ball to play with, a bug to chase or a sunny spot to lie in. She thrived wherever she was. Life was filled with all kinds of things to explore and enjoy. She never cried or sulked – purring was her middle name! (3)    Show love. Holly had a special fondness for my husband. He was the only one who could hold her busy little body for any period of time. She sat on his sweater by his computer and tilted her little head to communicate with him during the workday. She followed him everywhere, climbed into his pants as he was putting them on in the morning, and purred contentedly as she slept near him each night. He said he could feel the unconditional love emanating from her all the time – and it felt good. (4)    Peace and contentment. Holly was so peaceful even in the midst of household strife. The kids could yell and scream, the dogs could bark and the other cats could get into cat fights, and little Holly would just lie in the middle of the floor looking like “life is grand!” She didn’t get ruffled by the things that happened around her; she had an aura of peace and contentment that helped the rest of us to get a grip when the commotion level increased. (5)    Have fun! Holly’s greatest gift might have been to remind us that life can be fun whenever we want it to be. Everything was a game to her: Getting ready for bed at night was fun. Having meals was exciting. Our coming into and leaving the house was reason to run around and rejoice. Her fun and upbeat spirit made us smile constantly. That spirit permeated everything we did and uplifted our hearts no matter what else was going on. During any difficult times, we would just turn and look at happy Holly to get our center back.

The hole Holly left is a wide open and very painful wound for us right now. Even with many other animals and beautiful children in my home, there is an emptiness left behind. But with the blessings that Holly bestowed upon us, we are hoping to take her lessons and apply them to every minute of our days.

This week, please think of Holly.

Be kind. Don’t worry. Show love. Seek peace and contentment. And have fun!