They named her snowflake

This morning I had a message under my Pets Connection post on Facebook. A lady at the animal shelter had seen my cat. She was sure it was her and I could go identify it anytime. She said she had to “apologize in advance, but they named her Snowflake”. I wrote “haha” that’s not a bad name, in fact that’s implying she’s a Trump-hating liberal and that makes me proud. We would go right away to identify her.    

I knew it was her. On the drive to Stray Hearts Animal Shelter the radio played Foo Fighters. I felt like I was in high school again returning from track practice. We were in high spirits and ended up driving in a circle twice out of brainless excitement. At the shelter, no one wanted to help us. They were having a pizza party. It seemed pretty rude actually, not to jump for joy and congratulate us on getting our cat back. Finally, one girl took us to the back. We joked. She was pretty quiet. 

Back to a little room with cute puppies and a freezer. The girl Michelle is moving things around in the freezer. There are little bags with dates. Wait.

“Wait, she’s dead.” I said it and when I said it I felt like I was hitting myself in the head. I looked at Charley and realization spread over his face like a rash.

I didn’t understand. Snowflake. Who tells me they named a dead body Snowflake?

They said it was probably a car because blood came out of her nose. Probably quick and painless.  They’d cremate her body in Albuquerque and we could looking into keeping the ashes. 

I guess it finally hit me because I saw her body- 6.5 pounds- and cried all the way home.

She was one and a half. She was about ten in human years? She was always climbing everything, even the roof. And exploring the far corners of the property. I thought stupidly she was invincible- a little white ninja. What was she thinking this time? Was she trying to cross busy Salazar St to get to the Tibetan Buddhist center?

We talk to Charley’s mom on the phone. She’s better to talk to then my mom. More empathy, especially with animals. She reminds us to be grateful for what we have and to think of her spirit in a beautiful place now. She will ask her friend, an animal psychic, about Zia. She also found out today, through Facebook, that a friend biking in Ireland had died. 

Life is unpredictable. Fragile. You never know. You just have to keep loving. Never stop.

We get an email from the shelter. $58 for the private cremation and ashes. The lady who helped us felt terrible. She’d extended her arm halfway just in case I needed a hug. I’m so sorry for your loss,” she’d said. “If you need anything don’t hesitate to call.”

“I wanted her to grow to be like 20,” Charley says. “I wanted an old age cat friend into my forties.”

Yesterday I wrote about Zia as if she would return today. I could still feel her presence because I believed she was still alive. Now I can feel her presence because she is dead. Her spirit permeates everything. I feel her small, slender white body curling around my leg as I write. Her free, independent spirit, innate elegance, grace. The Grace Kelly of cats, gone too soon.


Some believe our pets continue to live with us in spirit after death. One dog owner says: “I have been visited by a few of my passed-over pets through the years, and have felt a sense of love and peace when they have been around. I still often catch a glimpse of my pure white cat ‘Mange’ around my garden and inside the house in her favourite spots. ‘Daisy’, a young Jack Russell terrier I had many years ago, occasionally pays a visit as well.” 

Jane Roberts talks about the eternal validity  of the soul in Seth Speaks. She says animals, like people, have varying degrees of self-consciousness. The consciousness that is within them is as valid and eternal as any available to humans. And when a human has shared a deep loving relationship with a pet on earth, and that pet has crossed over before the human, it is always there to greet them at their death. 

“I don’t know what I’d do if I lost you,” Charley says.

“Yeah I don’t know what I’d do if you died. I don’t think you’re allowed to.”

We decide to make it a good day- for Zia Snowflake Ham Sandwich Blueberry Pancake. I guess she’d gone down the Rabbit Hole for good. We say a prayer for her by the river in Pilar. 


My head is swarming with all of the animal spirits out there and how they’ve been cherished to the point of reaching out to animal psychics, or dismissed to the point of torture in factory farms and by the hands of careless, power-hungry men. I think about my dogs and the cat I’ve had since Portland, 2009.

I hope they all live to be 120. And meanwhile I’ll try to find solace in the Billy Joel song, “Only the Good Die Young“. 

Where will place the ashes? In a shrine? In the Rio Grande? “She’ll end up in a Chicano bean field in Albuquerque,” Charley says.

“Maybe she’ll reincarnate as a green chile.”

*this story really began yesterday- here.

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