I swear every post I write from here on out won't be about my cat. But when spooky things happen, cat or not, who am I to keep them from you?
Honestly, I wasn't even sure if I wanted to write about "Ghost Brandy" yet. But then I got this lovely story from one of your fellow Creepy Corneristas, and felt inspired (and comforted).
So to ease us into this ghost cat post, here is a story from "Kerry" about her beloved cat Bonzai. Thank you Kerry, your story warmed my cold, cranky heart and gave me the courage to write about Ghost Brandy.
He was just sitting there, watching me.
"About 8 years ago, I lost my cat Bonzai. Although people would laugh, I know in my heart [we had] a spiritual connection. He slept in my bed every night, greeted me at the door, and snuggled and cuddled me when he knew I really needed it.
I nursed him through his last days (the ripe old age of 18 going on 19) — detached retinas so he couldn't make his way to the litterbox, bumping into walls, and cysts growing all over his body. He was in rough shape, and I knew he didn't have much longer. Once the vet confirmed his liver was failing and it was only a matter of time, I knew I had to help him go.
When it was time and he was slipping away, this cat reached out and put his paw on my hand while the other stroked his head. He was comforting me one last time. Yeah, that killed me but it also confirmed what a bond we had, it was indeed spiritual.
The third night after he was gone, I woke up out of a dead sleep. I don't know why. I sat up in bed and looked at the clock, then looked to the left of my bed a few feet from the door. He was just sitting there, watching me.
I was stunned because he was definitely there, but it was more a clear image of him. It wasn't solid. Then he turned around and walked out the bedroom door. Again, still stunned, I got up and looked out the door into my living room and kitchen. Nothing there, of course, quiet as a mouse. I got back into bed and eventually fell asleep again. I wasn't scared, I really felt comforted because I knew he or his cat spirit would never hurt me.
I saw him one more time, I think it was a few weeks later. It was when my place was feeling intensely lonely without him. This time, I woke up with the distinct feeling that there was a weight on the end of the bed near my feet, and it wasn't my husband, who was lying next to me. I woke up, just looked down to the foot of the bed and there he was, just keeping an eye on things. He was sitting just as he'd done before, then as soon as I knew he was there, he was gone. I didn't see him again."
I hope Bonzai and Brandy are hanging out at that Great Cheese and Tuna Buffet in the Sky.
But what about Ghost Brandy (or at least the incidences that Mr. Louise and I have fondly started attributing to "Ghost Brandy")?
As much as I've tried to rationalize away some of the odd things that have been happening in my home since Brandy died, I can't explain all of it. Maybe I don't want to. Maybe this is all part of healing and adjusting to life without a (visible) cat.
Truth be told, a big part of me just wonders if after 10 years of having Brandy in my life, my brain just can't compute that she's gone. I think this happens when we lose animals and humans alike. We still look for them, wait for them, listen for them, feel them.
Weeks after Brandy's death, my home still does not feel like it's missing a feline presence. Even Mr. Louise, who is far more skeptical and "scientific" about these things, has commented that, "It feels like she's still here. I just can't see her. Well... mostly."
Mostly? We keep seeing her out of the corners of our eyes — darting around the edge of the couch, strolling past the bed, walking into the bathroom. I can almost hear the tapping of little paws on my floor.
Is my brain trying to default back to what was my normal for so long? Substituting in an image that is always floating around my subconscious? Giving me what I want to see?
Or is there some sort of lingering energy? A cat spirit of sorts who is still hanging around her people?
I just don't know. I flip-flop between the two modes of thought.
But whether my brain is screwing around with me, or if Ghost Brandy is really making her presence known, I don't care. There is a comfort to this entire experience.
This is MY mourning process.
The first instance happened a few nights after Brandy passed. Lying in bed, all the lights off, feeling anxious and unsettled, I felt a thump at the foot of my bed.
For a second I didn't think anything of it. It was just Brandy coming to bed for the night.
Then I remembered.
I sat up and looked around — nothing. My mind split in two: did a part of me expect her to come to bed so I experienced that sensation? Or was she just "tucking in" my husband and I?
This had been her normal routine for so long, was she just going about business as usual?
A couple nights later, I was in bed again, watching a movie on my iPad. I admit I was getting sleepy, but at one point I noticed a weight against my left side — the side where Brandy used to sleep.
Not thinking, I curled into it, and the weight stayed put. I remember thinking, "Aww, she's letting me snuggle with her."
(I should note that I have kept her fuzzy "security blanket" in its spot on my side of the bed, just in case she wants to take a ghost nap or make Ghost Cat Biscuits.)
Then I remembered.
My eyes flew open, I didn't move. I SWEAR, the weight did not disappear, it just slowly dissipated. And like the last time, when I looked around there was nothing there.
Over the days and weeks I've actually gotten used to thumps on my bed and seeing tortoiseshell-colored blurs darting around my apartment. I'm not sure what to think, but I choose to take some comfort in the fact that I still get to experience a little bit of life with my girl.
Even Mr. Louise has had some Ghost Brandy experiences to report.
"I heard her scratching around in the bathroom," he told me late one afternoon after I'd come home from the market. "I was watching TV, when I heard what sounded like her softly scratching at her litter box [it took me over a week to finally throw out her box]. I liked it. It was kind of nice."
Another time he was making himself a burger when he felt her brush against his legs, begging for beef like she used to. "My first thought was to rip her off a chunk and put it in her bowl."
Hamburger was their thing. Mr. Louise could rarely resist giving Brandy a hamburger treat.
The one experience that actually kept me up for most of the night, alternating between warm fuzzies and chills down my spine, happened a few nights ago.
Mr. Louise and I had just gotten into bed, and were huddled together watching an episode of The Americans on my computer. When the episode ended, Mr. Louise rolled over to go to sleep and I stayed up a little longer to watch Colbert clips on YouTube.
A few minutes into my YouTubing, I felt the foot of my bed thump (not that unusual by now) and I thought I saw a shape move from my bed to the couch. (We live in a tiny Hong Kong apartment, the arm of our "living room" couch is almost flush to the side of my bed.)
Even though my first thought was, "You're just seeing things, Louise," I hit pause on my video and sat listening by the glow of my computer screen for a moment. I heard something.
Something scraping on the rough, textured fabric of my couch? A padding sound? All I know is that the sound made me put my computer aside and peek around the side of the couch.
My heart jumped into my throat. On my tan couch, quite visible in my computer-illuminated and moonlit apartment, there was a round, dark shape. I froze, staring at it.
I could make out soft edges and — it couldn't be — black patches? A stripe? Eyes? Very black, like a photograph negative, something appeared to be curled up on my couch. In Brandy's spot...
Whatever I saw, it felt like it was looking back at me. It felt like those familiar golden eyes that had looked back at me for all those years asking, "What do you want?"
After about 10 seconds, what I was looking at seemed to lose cohesion, and melted into the night. I was left staring at an empty couch.
"What are you doing Louise?"
Hearing my husband's voice I realized that I was covered in goosebumps. "I don't know. I—I think I saw Brandy."
My eyes darted around my dark apartment. "I don't know. But I saw something in her spot. It seemed like her. She was looking at me."
"You're lucky," my husband said and hugged me. We sat in the dark for a moment listening for Ghost Brandy. We heard nothing more.
I didn't fall asleep until near dawn. While I wasn't exactly spooked, I did feel like all my senses were turned up. I don't know what I saw, I don't know if I just wanted to see something, but I know how it made me feel.
Like my husband said, I felt lucky.
Whether or not Ghost Brandy is actually wandering around my home, or if this is just how my brain is coping, I feel so lucky that the part of my life that was tied up in a little tortoiseshell-colored cat gets to have something of a graceful exit. Her spirit — either the memory of her or her actual energy — is not all at once extinguished.
This is all still a part of experiencing Brandy's death, and I am grateful for it.
Have you ever had a beloved animal come back to visit you? Check on you? Say goodbye? Do you still see them out of the corner of your eye (I've heard this a very common occurrence)?
I'd truly LOVE to hear about your experiences.
And as always, if you have a story you'd like to have shared in the Creepy Corner, email me at CreepyCornerMail@gmail.com. Just tell me how you'd like to be named and clearly state whether or not it's OK for your story to be published. No problem at all if you just want it shared privately with me — Creepy Cornerista's honor!