- By Susan Welsh
If you’re lucky in this lifetime you get at least one special animal to navigate alongside you on your journey as a spiritual being having a human experience. My companion through this walk was Scout, a Siamese Tabby with an ash grey and white coat, seasonally tinged with orange around her paws and the tip of her tail. She resembled a lynx, had a soulful countenance, and was the love of my life.
Scout was born in 2001, the first year of the twenty-first century and the last year of a certain kind of innocence in the United States— the quiet summer before the shattering events of 9/11. Scout’s life began on a farm owned by Harriet Fisher, a former debutante who married a dairy farmer in 1950, and spent a lifetime nurturing a multitude of rare barn cats on her sprawling property in Rosemont, New Jersey.
I was in my late 30’s when Scout moved in. Our life together predates the introduction of e-readers and iPads and while some of our favorite musicians were still alive— Johnny Cash, Rosemary Clooney, David Bowie, Prince, and George Michael. In the span of Scout’s 18 years on earth, she would comfort me through life-altering heartbreak, the gradual, but certain burn-out of my teaching career, the birth of my 4 nieces, the legalization of gay marriage, and the overwhelming joy of watching Barak Obama take the office of presidency. Most importantly, Scout was in my life when I met Stephanie—my wife, my best friend, and my great love. The triple oxytocin of the three of us together made our house a home, and we became a family of three. My deep and eternal gratitude to Stephanie for the tender loving care she provided for Scout, especially as we watched the painful process of aging and deterioration set in.
Here’s what I will always remember about Scout: She loved Jeopardy! and sat beside me each night to watch it with me. She was obsessed with my Birkenstock sandals, settling her head onto the footbed like it was a pillow and napping there. She loved to jump up on the kitchen table and watch me through the pass-through as I cooked and baked. She loved the music of Rosemary Clooney, particularly the song, Do You Miss New York, perhaps because it was the wake-up song programmed on my CD alarm clock when she moved in. Scout loved to be cradled like a baby, rocked in my arms and as I sang to her, “Since I took a left and moved out to the coast. . .”
Scout, like many pets, seemed to possess a telepathic sense of when I was feeling sad, lonely, or anxious, and she would appear, by my side, and looking up at me with pure love and affection. She would recline on the bed and reach out her paw to touch me as I passed by. Having Scout next to me purring, chattering, and chirping was one of the greatest sources of contentment and happiness I’ve known in this lifetime. There’s a kind of silence and emptiness to the house without her, a kind of ache that only time can diminish. I feel a bit untethered without her, but perhaps that is a call for a need to return to the source, go deeper, tap into all that love still reserved in my heart and soul in the space that Scout occupies.