Remembering a very special friend
Many years ago I had a lovely grey cat named Rosemary. She was one of a kindle of three kittens we found (along with her two brothers whom we named Parsley and Sage)that someone had thrown out of a car, into the woods.
Of all the cats I have ever lived with, Rosemary was the quietest. She rarely ever made a sound. She was standoffish and shy around most people. But in the deliberate way that cats have, she chose me to be her best friend.
Whenever I walked through the woods that skirted the back of my house, Rosemary always walked with me. Sometimes she would step a bit before me or a bit back, like a companionable dog. Other times, in a very feline way, she would bound in front of me, then dash up a tree and silently watch me pass underneath.
Rosemary was a living example of how we sometimes don’t need words to understand each other’s moods and feelings. For example, if I got into bed at night feeling happy or content, Rosemary would sleep at the foot of my bed, feeling no need to come closer, often leaving the bed before dawn.
However, if I crawled into bed feeling sad and depressed, Rosemary would immediately come up close to me, rub her small face against mine, and then curl up against the small of my back, where she would remain until morning.
At the border where my backyard met the woods, there was a large flat rock that seemed to thirstily absorb the heat of the sun. I would often sit on this rock with Rosemary at my side.
This was a point in my life when my marriage had recently ended. I felt overwhelmed at times with the anxieties of single parenthood, the responsibilities of a new and challenging job, and the loneliness that follows the end of a long-term relationship, with no sign of a new love to follow.
The sun beat down on my head as I sat on the sturdy rock, stroking Rosemary’s soft, warm fur. Although she was a sweet cat, Rosemary was not a cat who had a penchant for being petted, by me or anyone. But again, as if she understood my somber mood, Rosemary would allow me to pet her without once stirring or jumping away.
Only when I would at last rise and walk slowly back to the house did Rosemary leap from the rock, give herself a dainty shake, and bound away in front of me with tireless energy and grace.
Lovely Rosemary died more than thirty years ago, but my memories of her sweet, silent companionship live on. She is a testament to the truth that our animals love us and may show their care and concern in many vital non-verbal ways.
There is a saying: “Rosemary is for remembrance”. When I remember Rosemary, as I seem to do more and more these days, I know that no dear companion ever more fully lived up to the promise of her name.