Lilly, the barn cat, died. She was our warrior cat with a kinked tail and rough veneer. Her energy had a fierce presence to it, and when she appeared I could instantly tell she had stories she could tell—she had been through a lot. She was a survivor, resilient and independent.
Yet, when she died she looked tender and soft. Her body was curled up gently and her face had a yearning gesture to it. One of her teeth poked to the side of her lip in a innocent, child-like manner. Her paws were curled ever so slightly. It reminded me how we all want to be loved. We all have tender parts in us, even, perhaps especially, the most weathered among us.
When my friend, Danielle, shared that she had found Lilly’s lifeless body on the land, we decided a proper burial was needed—it felt important. So, we picked out some different items we thought she would like near her: a feather, a heart painted rock, some sticks, and small shark teeth.
Then we found a spot by the creek and dug a deep hole. We dug together, sometimes in silence, sometimes with words. We dug until the earth seemed to stop us from going further. When the ground said we had dug deep enough, we placed her body down in the earth and placed the items with her. We sat and looked at her body, the vessel she once resided in.
As it felt right, we used our hands to cover her body, each intentional handful of dirt a way for us to show she mattered, she was here, she had existed. Then we picked out a big rock and carried it over, putting it on top, with some smaller, sacred rocks. The space felt right, her space felt right, it felt like what she wanted.
We wanted to do this for her, we thought we were doing this to honor her. But this spot, her burial site, has now become a gathering space for us. A special place on the land where we slow down, sit, and go deep with our conversations. It’s provided us with so much more than we knew it would. For this, we are so grateful to Lilly the Warrior Cat—a fierce and beautiful blessing.