The Last Café
Gracie 1/20/05 ~ 6/30/20
Gracie was the kind of kitty who was scared of virtually everything- every noise, sudden movements, people, other cats- well except for Easy, but everybody loves Easy. Gracie was a true "Scaredy Cat".
I moved to Fairhope, Alabama from San Francisco, California in the summer of 2006. Aside from the humidity, I was ill prepared for living in the south, despite having grown up in southern Virginia. Virginia, below the Mason-Dixon line is considered to be very much part of the south; however, there is a BIG difference between Virginia and Alabama. Of course, like everything, I made the best of it. I believe we carry happiness within us and Life is always full of gifts and surprises. I took time off from a mostly corporate career and started to settle into Fairhope living.
That winter of 2006, I saw a gray and white skinny kitty hiding under the bushes nearby. Being a "cat whisperer" I tried to get her, not knowing it was a her at the time, to come to me. I tried for days and weeks even. One morning it was particularly cold out - cold for Fairhope for sure - I saw out of the window this gray and white kitty digging through my recycle bin. She was licking the cans of cat food I had placed out. Mind you, I always rinsed them so there was nothing she could get. She was rail thin, bones protruding everywhere. Needless to say I started leaving food for her in the garage. I noticed she was also sleeping on my convertible, the rag top, surely better than the cold ground. Needless to say I started leaving her blankets and a box and even a thermal pad for her to sleep on. Gradually she came to trust me. I would sit outside with her sometimes at 1 am and she would curl in my lap. Needless to say she started coming inside when the rest of the world was asleep. We would snuggle on the couch. She was so gentle and grateful and she had the most beautiful big green eyes.
She finally graduated to my bedroom and lived there for nearly 4 years without anyone but me and my cousin Becky seeing her. She since moved with me to 5 different homes over the years. Her last home was in Daphne. She was riding out her life between my office at home and the front porch where the sun would warm her little body. She never did get more than 6 pounds.
Time in Alabama was drawing to a close. The move to Atlanta being planned. Gracie was still eating and doing natural cat things so it was hard for me to think that she might not want to move again. Deep down though, something inside was telling me that she was nearing her time here in the physical.
Although I can communicate with animals, it is never easy, well, pretty impossible, for me to do with my own fur babies. Fortunately my sister, Kelly, does and my girlfriend, Chandra, does as well. I called both of them. Independently they BOTH told me the same thing. Gracie does NOT want to move. She does NOT want to go. She is ready to rest- she is so tired. It was difficult to hear, yet I knew it was truth; yet, at the same time I had no evidence, how human of me right? I had about 3 weeks to trust in the Universe in this unfolding. I was reluctant to make the call.
Sunday arrived, the day before our move. We were still packing boxes and we packed well into the night. On Monday morning we loaded up 7 cat carriers and stacked them in my Volkswagen Convertible. We had the top down to get them all in properly. We had one more cat to go, Gracie was easy. She never fussed. As a matter of fact she was the kind of kitty if you picked her up to carry her somewhere she would go immediately limp, like playing possum. She never put up a fight. As we brought the 7th carrier out we see a kitty scaling the car door. OMG! Nola, broke thru her new carrier and was gone in a flash. We couldn't catch her. So here I drive all of the rest of the cats to the vet for boarding, with Gracie to be in observation in the medical part to see if it really is indeed her time. I drive 30 mins each way. When I get home, Jeremy had coaxed Nola on to the deck with food, yet she was still reticent. Finally I get her with the food and load her up and hike 30 mins back to the vet. Fortunately the movers arrived right after I left; otherwise, we probably would have had to come back a week later to try and find Nola. Can you imagine the stress building at this point? Our whole move was a comedy of errors, almost too unbelievable to believe. I'll save that story for another time.
Monday arrives, Jeremy is already on the road with the U-haul. I head to vets office. Due to Covid, I call from outside to let them know I was there. The Doctor called me to let me know that I made the right decision on Gracie and that she had kidney failure and was struggling. They said that she probably would not even survive the stress of the drive. I of course knew this was coming, yet I felt relieved that it was confirmed. I was invited inside to hold her, love her, pet her until it was time. They administered a narcotic that put her into a deep sleep. I was able to let her fall asleep on my chest for the time it took to take effect. She was so sweet and peaceful. I felt so happy for her that she could finally be free of all of her fears. She could lay in the sun all she wanted and not be afraid of any sound, any other cat, any other person. My sweet baby Gracie. The Doctor returned with her assistant and they took her from my arms. They administered the final cocktail as I held her head in my hands. There was no response whatsoever. It was like she was already sound asleep. I cannot express how much joy I felt for her freedom and at the same time how much sorrow I felt to be losing her. They nodded it was time for them to take her away and for me to go back outside and wait for the other kitties to be released from boarding.
I sat in my car. I was the only one in the parking lot. It was quiet. I was crying. I continued to sit. Suddenly in front of me on the stucco building was a brown gecko. I wasn't sure how long it had been there yet it certainly had my attention at this point as it was bobbing up and down as if trying to get my attention. It was the only thing on the wall, no foliage, nothing- just this brown gecko. As I stared, it began to turn into a magnificent bright green. I was astonished as I have never seen one change right before my eyes. It was a brilliant green. I laughed and said, "Gracie is that you already?" The green gecko then began demonstrating its ruby red throat as if it was answering me. I started laughing. I was laughing and crying at the same time.
The Spiritual Message of the Gecko:
Geckos represent rebirth and life cycles, the circling of energy. They also symbolize there is always hope for rebuilding our own lives. Geckos symbolize energy and magic of the nature and the life in their purest form.
Here I was, completely blown away by the significance of this message, and not lost on me was my own rebirth, a rebuilding of my own life was underway. My Gracie was a divine being and immediately wanted to let me know she was free, happy, filled with magic. The gratitude and awe within me swelled as if I simply couldn't contain it.
The staff called. They were ready to bring me the kitties from boarding. All had been mildly sedated to endure the trip. Out they came, 6 carriers full and one empty one. I cried some more yet still had so much joy deep within me.
I was driving down the road, maybe about 15 minutes had passed. I was thinking about Gracie and the gecko. I was instantly reminded of a dream I had about a week earlier.
It was night time, dark, around 11 pm in the dream. I was driving through the new town my husband and 7 cats moved to. The town in the dream was unfamiliar to me yet it was lovely, charming and quaint. It felt like a mountain town. All of the roads were windy and hilly. We had been unpacking all day and were hungry. I was out driving to see what might be open and available. I was descending a hill, approaching a stop sign. Across the street form the stop sign was an old wooden bridge that had been restored. The bridge spanned over a fast flowing creek from recent rains. It was lit with old world, cast iron street lamps, giving off an almost golden glow reminding me of simpler times. I fell more in love with the town. Somehow or another Gracie was in the car with me, as was Manji, the youngest of the clan, still a kitten. Manji dashed out of the car and was running across the bridge to play when I was able to catch him. I brought him back to the car and Gracie got out. She ran halfway across the bridge. I went to catch her and she jumped down on an eave under the bridge. I backed up and she hopped back on the top just looking at me. I was beginning to panic that I couldn't catch her. The cat and mouse went on a few times. Suddenly there were chickens and one rooster on the bridge. They were trying to catch Gracie too! I was so afraid they would hurt her because she is defenseless and slight in her body. One chicken did grab her and as Gracie surrendered, the chicken just held her, spooning her, comforting her. I was able to grab her and take her back to my car. I continued driving and found this adorable tavern lit with Christmas lights - those nostalgic colored bulbs of red, yellow, blue and green. The place was busy with locals, everyone chilled and easy. There was lots of laughter and music, a very welcoming spot. It was called The Last Café. I was drawn to it completely as if it was very familiar. I was excited to tell Jeremy about the cool place I found and that we were sure to meet friends and have good times there.
The dream was profound and I realized that it was telling me that Gracie was ready to "cross the bridge". She didn't want me to keep her. She was ready to go! She was at her last café. I once again started laughing and crying.
The Spiritual Message of Chicken in Dreams
They are often a symbol of home and relationships between you and your closest ones. These birds represent family, family bonds, parenthood and especially relationship between a mother and a child...
I also think Gracie, or my Guides, was telling me to NOT BE A CHICKEN and let her go.
When we are truly open to the messages around us, life is nothing short of astounding.
And with that I hit the freeway. I was leaving Alabama after 14 full and rich years and headed to Georgia, eager for this new adventure. I felt complete knowing that Gracie was finally home, where we will all eventually meet - The Last Café, a cheerful and easy place with good friends and good times.
Gracie snuggled with Easy.
Her last day in the sun.