Samhain's Story (pronounced "Sow-in")
by Kazuko Tao
Soon after moving to California, Samhain, who is now a 16 year-old cat, came into my life as an abandoned kitten I found in a schoolyard. This feline is fiercely independent, likes to be alone, and clearly states her limits and boundaries at all times. She lives her life quietly and with focused intention. After living with her for some time, I began to feel that Samhain was familiar to me, as if we'd known each other before. I asked her if we had met in another life, and she said yes, she has been the orange cat I adopted during my elementary school days in Japan.
Growing up, I knew my mother did not like cats, yet having one was very important to me. The first animal I loved as a small child was a cat, and we used to play hide and seek for hours. So despite my mother's disapproval, I was determined to have a cat in my life and one day I brought home an orange kitten. Though it was tense between us, my mother allowed me to keep the kitten since both my sister and brother also loved her. A few months went by and suddenly, I couldn't find my little orange cat anywhere. I searched but never found her again. I was heartbroken and never had another cat until I was grown and on my own. When I asked Samhain why she disappeared in that life, her answer was that it was very tense in our house, so she thought it best for everyone if she were gone. She left and found another home.
In this life, Samhain continued her habit of leaving when the situation became too tense. She likes her alone time and never has gotten along comfortably with my other cats. When she was younger Samhain would often leave home for days at a time, and I'd trek to her hangout by the river to retrieve her, bring her home, and fatten her up again. Then she'd be off and the cycle would start over. One winter she disappeared for six months. I thought I lost her again! But just when I was packing up to move to a new home, Samhain peeked from behind a tree enough to let me see her. She'd survived all those months by hunting. Little by little I coaxed her closer with food and was able to take her with me to our new place.
Later, Samhain said the reason she stayed away that winter was to convey to me how important it was to take better care of myself. She knew the relationship I was in during that time was not working out.
Several years ago, my elderly mother came to live with me. She knew full well that as an adult I'd been sharing my life and home with many cats. Samhain lived in the granny unit because of her dislike of sharing her life with my other cats. So when my mother moved in, I gave her no choice but to live with Samhain in the granny unit. This time, I decided, Samhain would not leave because of my mother. If anything, my mother would have to leave if she couldn't handle my cat! This was my home and I was determined to keep my family together.
Surprisingly, my mother gradually began to appreciate and respect Samhain as a being. Slowly but surely, this feline made her way steadily into my mother's heart and even her bed. The first year, Samhain slept in a bed my mother prepared for her on the floor. The second year, she slept on the foot of my mother's bed. After that, Samhain slept right next to my mother's face. Because my mother was often alone, it was comforting to have a companion, a cat friend, and Samhain has been very patient with her in return. Now my 95 year-old mother and my frail 16 year-old cat can be found keeping each other company, watching TV side by side on the couch.
Samhain is one of the major forces helping me find a new level of relating to my mother. We have always had a difficult relationship, and it felt as though my mother and I didn't always know or trust each other. Sometimes, I gave up on even trying to like the woman! I couldn't let go of our long, emotionally painful history. However, Samhain, the same kitty who left to find a better home in our early years, is now teaching me lessons on forgiveness and letting go. In her own quiet, subtle yet unmistakable way, Samhain is helping me begin to forgive my mother and to see that she couldn't offer me what she never had to give. Only at this point in my life am I able to assimilate those lessons she has to offer.
The following advice Samhain gave me is written in her own words:
The conflict you are in with your mother is taking a lot of energy out of you. You need to let go. Let go of any hurts. Let go of the fact that she has not been a good mother. At this point, she is not going to change in any significant way. You still need to stand clearly on your ground and let her know how you feel, but beyond that, let her go. Would you take it personally if a child said something offensive to you? Your mother is becoming like a child. It is to your own benefit and well-being not to get too tangled up with her. It's a waste of your time and energy. What I am saying is that how she feels about you is deep down in her cellular level. You are not going to change her now, maybe to some extent, but not totally. So fighting with her is a lost cause.
Samhain, you clearly show her when she infringes on your personal space.
Yes, I do. I cannot change her beliefs, but that doesn't mean I let her walk all over me. Insist on living a life that is in accordance with your soul. But by insisting, you should separate what are past hurts from the task of clearly defining your current boundaries.
Think of what you have accomplished so far; you have done well. You know what you are capable of. So why do you let a 95 year-old woman agitate you? Be more spacious because your energy and soul are huge in comparison to the issue you have with your mother. You have proven to yourself what you are capable of and that is enough. All you need is to know and live your path you have chosen. That is all that matters. Remember you are like a huge stadium and the issue with your mother is ant-sized in comparison. So you should relax, enjoy what you have that enriches your life and speaks to your soul.
Why did you stay such a short time with me in your previous life?
Even for a short while, I wanted to be with you and have fun. I wanted to give you fun and simple, genuine love. It seemed to me you were lacking in simple loving, love that was safe for you. You lived with a lot of fear stemming from your father's drinking.
What is your life about now in coming back into my present life?
Well, it's clear, isn't it? It's about forgiveness, letting go of old hurts and standing your ground. I am a living example of all those things. I came back because the time and circumstances were right for you to learn these lessons, they're very important lessons for you.
Do we go back many lifetimes?
Yes, we do, all the way back to when you were a young boy studying in Tibet. I have known you since then.
What were you when I was in Tibet?
I was one of the temple mice, and I used to come by while you were in meditation and tickle you. Also, I used to come to you when you were reading ancient texts. I kept you company. We go back many thousands of years, and I am one of your main guides to assist you.
What is in it for you?
I want what everyone wants: a deep connection and love.