A week after a bad breakup, a co-worker told me how her daughter's boyfriend had found a tiny kitten paddling for his life in a river near Kent, Ohio. As a college student, she was unable to keep the kitten, so they thought of me. I had always considered myself to be a dog lover, but I thought that having another being to take care of might stop me from feeling so sorry for myself. The night before I picked him up, I dreamed of a strong gray cat with a triangle tuft of white at his neck and piercing green eyes climbed up my body and stood on top of my chest. He looked down at me and said, "You are going to name me Rumi, and you better quit smoking too." I woke up and thought, "Rumi's a great name since it's the name of my favorite poet." I would come to learn it was also just better to quit smoking than to mess with a determined cat who took every opportunity to hide lighters and destroy packs of cigarettes.
For seven years, he was my constant companion, seeing me through illness and health (and a few more bad boyfriends!). He died unexpectedly just before Christmas a few years ago while my mom was putting up the Christmas tree. We had a candelight ceremony, read a Rumi poem, and buried him in the garden beneath the snow. I know that he came into my life to show me how to love myself as well as to remind me that it's always better to let my light shine for the world to see...and to meow a little bit when the mood hits!
"I have come to drag you out of your self
and take you in my heart.
I have come to bring out the beauty
you never knew you had
and lift you like a prayer to the sky." —Rumi
— Marlene, programming producer