Grieving the Passing of a Prince

Like welcomed and celebrated children, beloved pets have many names. My most recent furry, four-legged gift from the Universe arrived some twenty years ago singing his kitty song as he emerged from the long grasses of a nearby meadow. On a break from writing, I sat on the front stoop of this woodsy home eating lunch. I couldn’t quite believe my ears when I heard him. As he rounded the corner of the cabin, I felt he knew exactly where to find me.

No feral cat this. I knew the signs because I’d tried to tame several of his wild relatives before our meeting on this summer day. Ever since I discovered that living in a woodsy cabin meant sharing space with all manner of insects, mice, voles, and squirrels, I’d been longing for a cat companion.  In those days, I couldn’t remember a time when I’d lived without one. My longing was huge.

Despite my previous kitten and cat experience, Princey demonstrated revelation after revelation regarding feline abilities. Before meeting him, I’d never loved a hunter cat, a joy-filled killer, one with five toes on each paw, one who smiled while wolfing down whatever he caught that dared enter what from that day on became his domain. That first day, I shared my tofu lunch with him, unaware of what he could do with his delicate jaws, his sharp little teeth, his dainty pink tongue. He ate the tofu from my fingers, mindful of my tender flesh and careful not to bite me.

I asked him the usual questions about where he’d come from, what he was doing so far from home, who might be looking for him. His answers were definitive. He purred. He rubbed against my legs. Then he curled beside me, both of us feeling the rightness of our new friendship beneath the forest canope’s shifting shadows.

The Burlington Humane Society runs touching adoption ads in Seven Days, a weekly Vermont paper, always with pictures of the furry adoptee above descriptions of known histories. One day I was startled to read they had “Working Cats” available, cats who live in barns and catch mice and any other interlopers for food and companionship. I read about barn cats several years after I’d welcomed Prince to forest life. By then, my beloved kitty companion had been called Killer, Toes, Pretty Kitty, Honey Bun, Sweetie Boy, and Princey, as well as the name attached to his magician’s sudden appearance in my life. At one veterinarian appointment, when I replied with his full formal name, the young woman taking notes looked up at me, smiled, and said, “Prince Meadow Lark! That’s the best!” with such enthusiasm I had to laugh.

Over the years I am happy to say Prince learned to leave birds alone. At high risk were the pesky red squirrels who did their best to invade the cabin’s attic. These energetic creatures learned the hard way the machinations of Prince’s gullet. He ate them enthusiastically, tail and all. He quickly learned not to eat the voles that lazed by him when he was out sunning, retching after his moment of forgetfulness and looking around hoping no one had seen his lapse into carnivore foolishness. He continued to kill these slow moving, burrowing creatures, afterward bringing them to me as a love offering.

His favourite sport, tracking down the source of rustling inside the cabin, became a source of enormous pleasure to both of us. With the patience of a monk, he would meditate on the sound until his radar prompted him to crouch in a very specific spot. The end of the story involved his gleeful devouring of the entire mouse, head first, tail last. After such meals, he’d look at me with love, joy, and pride, his eyes half-closed in bliss.

He knew I’d miss him after so many years of play, cuddles, and work together, and so he began to show me, little by little, that he was getting ready to return to the mystery that first led him to me and our long-ago, tofu sharing day. Over the years of his slow decline, he would look at me as if to say, “You know I can’t stay forever, right?” Years before, my grandmother had to tell me she was “going”  because she too understood the deep grief of loss and how I was doing all I could to deny our approaching separation. Prince used his eyes to let me know, his less and less frequent head bumps, his waning enthusiasm for mousie play, my fingers the mouse teasing him from beneath the bathroom door.

A decade or so before this ache of Prince’s passing, a beautiful city cat, Jimi, joined our woodsy family  He’d been a rescue whose history with unkindness left him unpredictably violent with people and dogs he didn’t like. Our city letter carrier, a big burly man, confided once that our barking dog didn’t frighten him at all, but our prancing dancing little black cat did. Jimi loved our dog, Mike, and he loved us as long as we respected his need to live as he needed to live, close but not too close.When he arrived in these woods, Jimi decided he liked Prince, but he made sure Prince understood his right to eat out of both food bowls whenever he was moved to, and to kick Prince off my pillow when he chose to sleep there. Through all of Jimi’s tough-guy posturing, Prince remained the gracious host, knowing I suspect, that something dark and sinister brewed in Jimi’s lithe little body that would take him from our home when he was still in vital middle age.

A vet who made hospice house calls helped me to understand when to call him to end Jimi’s pain. The dark and sinister force in his body turned out to be bone cancer that announced its presence with a sudden limp after an ordinary jump from a bed. Kindly, the vet said, “You’ll know. His joy will be gone. As long as he’s happy to sit in the sun, to purr with you on the sofa, to offer the occasional head bump, he’s still experiencing the quality of life you want for him.” He was right. Jimi told me “It’s time,” as he withdrew from our mutual tendernesses.

Quality of life is such a subjective call to make, one that comes with the responsibility of pet companionship. I didn’t have to call anyone for Prince. Like the magical cat he’d always been, he went out to the driveway to sip from a puddle knowing I would follow him. I followed him everywhere in his final days. The day he died, we walked to a puddle, our pace set by his aching, arthritic hips. Once there, I stroked his head and scratched his chin, and talked to him a bit about the wonderful sunshine making its way to us through the trees after a long rain storm. He gave me a look of understanding and sat down to take in his shimmering green world.

After a few minutes of shared beauty and peace, I walked back to the cabin to check something on the stove. I watched him from the kitchen window for a moment or two, his head turning from the puddle to observe the long grasses leading to the woods he often explored.  Minutes later, when I returned to the spot I’d left him, he was gone.

During the waves of  terrible heat he often found a cool, damp, shadowed spot to doze. I turned from the drive to the woods, expecting to see him curled in a favourite spot, but he wasn’t in all his usual resting places. I still haven’t found his lovely frail body although I can’t help but look for him. Seeing him still and lifeless might provide closure, but I doubt it. Losing him will be an open wound for quite a while. And yet his passing feels so right. As he appeared out of the meadow, singing, he disappeared into it, but with a quieter song.

It’s been two weeks since his physical leave taking. Throughout this time I have grieved, lighted candles, walked out to look for him, done all the things I can think to do to love him and release him to his next adventure. My beautiful Prince Meadow Lark, my wonderful Sweetie Boy is gone from this place. So far, the mice are unaware of his absence. His Killer energy remains, will aways remain, in the tall grass where he spent so many happy hours hunting.

Now and again, he appears to me in shadows as I walk outside, looking for him, longing for him. I see his tail twitching next to a stump or stretched out on the meadow rock that became a favourite sunning place in cold weather.  I see him inside, curled before the fire, languid on the sofa, sitting in the kitchen watching me cook. When I receive these visual gifts, I know Prince Meadow Lark has found his forever home.

Of course he had to go. It was his time. His wisdom told him so, and I trust his wisdom as I trust my own. But knowing the rightness of his death and feeling the pain of losing him is a challenging landscape where comfort comes in wisps or not at all. I miss my Kitty, my Toes, my Beloved Prince Meadow Lark, my Sweetie Boy. He was so faithful, so loving, so kind and generous. And such a proud killer.

In The Stone Angel, Margaret Laurence writes of a child who killed chicks left to die in the burning sun on the sidewalk. She performed this violent act of mercy by stepping on them. Hagar, Laurence’s main character, says of this girl that she was the kind of person who could do what needed to be done. It was an ugly act, but in the long view, a kind one.

Prince, like that young girl, could do what needed to be done. And when nothing was needed, he knew how to play, to snuggle, to eat for pleasure, to clean and admire his big paws. He was a lovely Being who, against all odds, found me and my longing for him in these vast woods. Life here, in the meadow, on the puddled drive, among the trees, will always hold him tenderly, so tenderly, as will my grateful, broken heart.

Until next time,


To Lie Fallow

Farmers know the importance of letting fields rest. It is a restorative process in agriculture, one that allows soil to regenerate and so be ready to support the next crop. In our busy, twenty-first century lives, we often forget to permit ourselves to lie fallow, to die to the ego-driven energies that prevent wool gathering and dreaming into stories other than our own.

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Celebrating Eleanor Rosalynn Carter

On November 19, 2023, at the age of ninety-six, Rosalynn Carter, nee Eleanor Rosalynn Smith, died. As a Canadian, I first heard of Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalyn during his bid for the American presidency.  CTV’s then lead anchor, Harvey Kirk surprised viewers when he abandoned his usual Walter Cronkite seriousness to inform us that we would have to learn to “talk south” once Mr. Carter took office as America’s thirty-nineth president.  Kirk could barely hold it together as he tried out his southern accent, his rendering of “tahking sahth” an unforgettable moment for the usually straight-laced newsman.  Back then, lots of people in Canada and the US made fun the the Carters’ soft southern speech patterns, but no one is making fun of them now.  After more than forty years of service in their post-presidential lives, we are much better able to see the true stature of the Carters because they stand in such sharp contrast to the current power hungry people fighting to hold office while apparently forgetting the real purpose of such elected-official positions: to serve the highest good for people and our planet.

Embedded in an article posted about Mrs. Carter on CBC’s website is a photograph of Rosalynn Carter with one of Canada’s former first ladies, Margaret Trudeau, wife of former Prime Minister, Pierre Elliot Trudeau, and mother of Canada’s current Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau. The year that photo was taken, nineteen seventy-seven, would prove to be momentous for Ms Trudeau and for Canada when she left her husband to pursue life on her own terms.  No one understood at the time that the former wife of Pierre Trudeau suffered from Bipolar Disorder, an especially poignant circumstance given Rosalynn Carter’s adult-life commitment to end mental illness stigma and champion mental health services.

Throughout her long life, Mrs. Carter embodied the stability and effectiveness of mental strength and clarity and its balancing power, loving kindness. A woman devoted to public service, she advocated for the adoption of the ERA, demonstrated a hands-on approach to community support through Habitat for Humanity, and shone a light on the vital need for mental health services, perhaps because she’d seen the devastating effects of mental illness on more than one occasion. In an age preoccupied with women’s appearance over the substance of their contributions to humanitarian causes, community and restorative justice, and creative inspiriation in our culture, former First Lady Rosalynn Carter shines bright, a much needed beacon in increasingly dark times.

Thank you, Mrs. Carter, for your example of loving kindness, faithfulness, political astuteness, and authenticity.  You will be missed, and your legacy of tireless public service will never be forgotten.

Until next time,


Aging, Confidence, and Beliefs

Bette Davis said it best:  Old Age is not for sissies. As if Alzheimer’s , diabetes, and cancer were not three of the worst specters of elderhood, it turns out aging human beings lose confidence in their abilities to perform tasks they are actually good at.  This last aging challenge deserves time and attention, because a lack of confidence can limit our joy in life.  Once we’re aware of confidence erosion, however, we can reframe this issue as an invitation to explore how negative beliefs may be impacting our view of who we are and what we can do.

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Tina Turner is Dead. Long Live Tina Turner.

This morning after my usual writing meditations by the fire, I turned on my computer to resume reviewing a novel I’m preparing for publication.  Before I could click on my word doc, I caught the headline, “Tina Turner Dies.”  Reading that headline, I felt the familiar stirrings of grief and gratitude.


The woman who taught us how to heal and how to thrive against all odds.

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On the Importance of Storytelling in a STEM-Centric World

This blog is the public place where I explore relationships between my feelings and my thoughts and between others and myself/Self.  My last blog was about the relationship between my husband, and, by extension, many other enthusiasts, and the game of American football.  Why I feel the need to discover the relationships between my feelings and thoughts is directly related to one of this website’s purposes: Inviting visitors to learn about how including the body in our storytelling supports our healing desires and intentions.

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Sacred Time, Sacred Space, and Football

Recently, I’ve been researching what makes folks happy in the midst of life’s challenges.  Because my husband, Lynn, is in his eighties and still working as a maker of beautiful objects, he became my perfect case study.  His creative work makes him happy, but some days are tough because he must invent new ways of accomplishing what seems to be the impossible.  During football season, he finds a restorative source of happiness sitting on the sofa watching the skill, teamwork, and fan frenzy that is American football. This past season was no exception, and because of his interest in the games and final 2023 Super Bowl contest, I had an in-depth experience of the value of this sport to a person who never played the game but still appreciates its artfulness.

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Water, Walking, and Writing: Self Care for Life’s Active Participants

Recently, while meeting the requirements for my continued accreditation and certification with EFT International, I was struck by the stress levels I shared with the other participants.  Although we are committed to serving others through the best practices that have been evolving over decades in EFT communities, one crucial habit is less well established:  using these amazing techniques on our own challenges, including the stress overload that can result in poor boundaries, over booking clients and classes, and discounting our own needs for regular self-care.

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NO MORE! The Religiously Motivated Decisions of Patriarchy & the Infantilization of Girls & Women

In my seventies now, I remember the joy of celebrating the Roe v Wade decision that US girls and women had the legal right to choose what happened to their bodies.  It was no small thing then, to Canadian girls and women, because we all share the traumatizing fact of our past as chattel, that is, the possessions of white men and boys in charge.  Corporations had already determined to treat girls and women as bubble heads who wanted nothing more than to look good and be more popular than others.  It was very much a case of the water temperature being turned up over time – suddenly, we found ourselves boiling in the murky idea that our body image and looks, our hair and our rumps, were more important than our minds and our spirits, our hearts and our self-determination. That 1973 court decision lessened the impact of profit motivated businesses selling insecurity and self-hatred to girls and women. At least the courts found us intelligent, responsible, and wise enough to decide a fundamental life choice for ourselves.

Now,  even corporations are reacting to the court’s decision to reverse R v W; that’s how bad this current court’s decision is.  The white supremist view that the ever-creative power of the Universe is white, male, and murderous toward those who haven’t swallowed this vile white supremacy lie has revealed itself in the highest court in the land.  And we’re not having it.

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Inspiration for when Father’s Day Triggers Fear, Rage, and Grief

Stephanie Foo’s What My Bones Know is the third memoir I’ve read in the last couple of years that has prompted meditations on my own father losses.  Foo’s father was present during some of her childhood, but neglectful of her need for protection from her violent and unpredictable mother during her earliest years.  When she was a young teen, her father left her alone in the family home to complete high school and navigate the college application gauntlet, with money – evidence of the reductionist belief that fathers are providers of cash but little else – but without any parental support.  Because her mother had abandoned her earlier, throughout her pivotal teen years Foo was without emotional comfort, intellectual guidance, and consistent, loving parenting.

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