by Sr. Sheila Campbell MMM Ireland 29.08.2022
Today I have a lump in my throat as I was thinking about my favourite animal, my cat called Torah. Why the lump in the throat – is she dead? No, I don’t think so, but she must be quite elderly at this stage. Torah was my cat when I lived in Salvador, Brazil.
Before Torah I had another cat called Shekinah. Shekinah, a kitten, was found under our car in a vast supermarket car park. We thought she had been abandoned by her owner and took pity on her. I would never have considered myself an animal lover. We had no kittens or dogs when we were children. I think my parents felt they had quite enough in the house with six children. Shekinah died, after only a few months with us, killed by eating rat poison in a neighbour’s garden. I was so upset by this that the community noticed I was going into mourning. “You have to get another cat”, they told me. But I was reluctant, I was still in mourning.
Then one morning a neighbour called me – there was a man in the next street with a litter of kittens he was desperate to give away. Would I go and take one? So off I went and found Torah, a little ball of black fur. She was only about six weeks old, so I was responsible for her vaccinations, her castration, her food supply, and her house training. What I loved about Torah was her independence. She did not need me to be around all the time, but sometimes she would deign to grace me with her presence. She got to know the sound of the front door opening and would stand on guard to see if I was coming into the house. Then she would come and rub herself against my legs. In the early morning I used to have my prayer time in the garden and Torah would jump up on my lap and lie perfectly still. I like to think she was saying her own cat prayers at that time too. My bedroom was on ground floor level, and the window was into the back yard where Torah spent most of her time. At night she would often jump in through the window and stretch herself beside me on the bed and we would sleep together. Then at about 3am she had enough of that, jump back out again and go her own way.
Torah was my constant companion. Sisters came and went from the community, some to go for studies, other to return to their countries of origin, but Torah and I were a pair. The trouble came when a new Sister arrived with allergies. She couldn’t live with the cat. My heart was torn. But I felt I had no choice, and I gave her away to another loving family where I believe she is still happy to this day. Torah continues happy – but I do miss her so.
What has Torah taught me? That love is all around me, is freely given, has no reason or logic. But yes, today I have a lump in my throat and what comforts me is the certainty that we will be together again in the life to come.