For two years Morris came and went. My daughter, Lauren, thought he was a stray cat gone wild who had probably been on his own for most of his life.
Lauren owned a house on an acre of land with hundreds of trees and berry bushes. We lived there in adjoining apartments. Lauren’s side of the house had three outside doors, while I had one front door and an inside door connecting our apartments.
Whenever stray cats came to one of my daughter’s doors, she took them in and kept them or found them homes. There were so many! But Morris dared only to come near Lauren’s door after she left food outside and went back in, closed the door, and remained out of sight.
Unbelievably, about six months after Morris first appeared at Lauren’s door, he started to appear at my door instead. You have to know that all my life I’d had a cat phobia. Cats terrified me so much that I had recurrent nightmares about a cat jumping from a tall staircase and landing on the back of my neck.
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Well, there he was, alone and hungry. I started putting food out for him. Each time, he would run away and return after I’d gone back inside. Morris, the cat who was so afraid of people, was coming to the door of the person who was so afraid of cats.
A friendship grew between us. After several months, I could bring myself to pet him, and he brought himself to let me. At some point, he learned to trust me enough that he would come into my front hall for a few seconds, then panic and run out. I started to leave the front door wide open so he could escape. We tamed each other.
Little by little, Morris began to stay inside for longer periods of time and allow me more physical contact through petting and stroking. Then one day he accepted my house as his home, but only when he wanted to come in. Morris was still a free agent, coming and going as he pleased, yet he was my cat. During the nights he always stayed out.
One evening I was standing on a chair to change a lightbulb in the bathroom. I fell onto the edge of the bathtub, broke seven ribs, and had to stay in the hospital for ten days. During this time my daughter never saw Morris, not even once.
The morning I came home from the hospital, there was Morris, sitting on the front path waiting for me. Still in pain, I couldn’t climb the stairs, so I slept on the couch.
Morris no longer went out at night. He slept in the house. Morris slept in the house! He curled up on the chair across from me and kept an eye on me all night, every night. He watched me in the day as well.
In about a month, I was able to go upstairs and sleep in my bed. Each night, Morris wanted to come in and sleep with me, but I wouldn’t let him. We’d have a race for the bedroom door, and each time I “won.” It was a great disappointment to him, and the resigned Morris slept outside my door.
I had always let dogs sleep with me, but never cats. I wouldn’t sleep with a cat. Somehow, I just couldn’t let the idea go.
On the night that turned out to be the last time Morris would try to get into my room, he almost made it into my bedroom before I closed the door on him. But this time, instead of sleeping outside my door, as he had every night before, Morris went downstairs and howled at the interior door to Lauren’s apartment.
Lauren let him in, and, for the first time, he slept with her. She was happy to have him. How I have wished since that I too had been happy to have him. I would be so happy now.
That was the last night Morris would be refused entry into my room. It was the last time we ever saw him. He was gone — simply gone. We never knew what happened to him.
The Blessing of Morris the Cat
I have wondered if Morris was an angel, his mission to be responsible for me. Maybe he’d been granted only a certain length of time to be with me, hence his need to sleep in the same room. And I wouldn’t let him. There are many times when I think of how hard he tried to enter my bedroom, and I want to apologize to my feline friend, saying, “Oh, how I want you, Morris, the blessing of you.”
Now I try to honor what only he could teach me. I pick up cats and hold them on my lap, giving them the love and comfort they need and deserve. Morris overcame his fear of human company and touch; he showed that when we accept each other with unconditional love, there is no room left for fear.
©2015 by Bernie S. Siegel. All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
New World Library, Novato, CA 94949. newworldlibrary.com.
Love, Animals & Miracles: Inspiring True Stories Celebrating the Healing Bond
by Dr. Bernie S. Siegel with Cynthia Hurn.
About the Article's Author
Gloria Wendroff, is the author of HEAVENLETTERS - Love Letters From God. Gloria, a teacher of English and business communication, grew up without religion or thoughts about God. Today Gloria receives and sends out Heavenletters every day, gives Godwriting workshops, works on her next book, How to Godwrite, and makes CD's -- all with an ear to the Still Small Voice and bringing earth closer to Heaven. Visit her website at www.heavenletters.org
About Bernie Siegel
Dr. Bernie S. Siegel, a sought-after speaker and media presence, is the author of many bestselling books, including Peace, Love and Healing: 365 Prescriptions for the Soul; and the blockbuster Love, Medicine & Miracles. For many, Dr. Bernard Siegel—or Bernie, as he prefers to be called—needs no introduction. He has touched many lives all over the Planet. In 1978, he reached a national and then international audience when he began talking about patient empowerment and the choice to live fully and die in peace. As a physician who has cared for and counseled innumerable people whose mortality has been threatened by illness, Bernie embraces a philosophy of living and dying that stands at the forefront of the medical ethics and spiritual issues our Society grapples with today. Visit his website at www.BernieSiegelMD.com