On 12/26/16 I had to make the hardest decision of my life, and allow my 21 year old baby Anika to be released from her aching body.
It was a beautiful way for her to go: warm, safe at home with her buddy Amma, my friend Jaime and me holding her and giving her Reiki as she took her last breath.
Last picture of Anika and Amma an hour before Anika’s transition.
Anika was such a strong spirit…she literally was playing up to the last few minutes of her life…her powerful soul has been one of the greatest healers and teachers I have ever known in my life.
This is the last picture of them together, a couple hours before Anika was released. For the whole decade they have been living together, Amma would always walk over to Anika to groom her face for just long enough until Anika was over it and she would swat Amma away.
This day, Amma came over to Anika and groomed her face for at least 10 minutes straight, and Anika let her…this I knew, was their goodbye.
I spent most of December mourning the loss of my baby before she even passed.
I was just waiting for her to show me that she was ready to go. I held her and cried and gave her Reiki so much that towards the end, she started to lick my tears, and gently pat my face as if to say, “Stop this already, I’m not REALLY going away…just out of this body.”
I always knew how to speak to her…and how to hear her.
She was the first cat I can really say that about. I have always been close to my cats, but something happens when a cat is with you for just under 2 decades…they literally become more human than cat…or perhaps I just became more feline, and we alchemically balanced. Whatever it was our connection was soul deep. It went far beyond cat to human.
Anika always had a huge spirit, even when I first met her in 1998.
First Picture of Anika when she came to live with me in 1999
I was fresh from the fire, and just starting on my new life of working in the M-F 9-5pm world of the Media Industry.
This was very different from where I came from; a past of always working closing shifts in retail, living in a huge party house, drinking the nights away watching live bands and finally being literally thrown out of that life by the fire and spit out into adulthood.
Being a 23 year old ex night owl who was now into the 9-5 world was brutal, to say the least…especially adding in an hour and a half commute each way from Altadena to Santa Monica everyday.
A day for me looked like getting at at 7am to be on the road by 7:45 and sometimes not getting home until 9pm…soul sucking to say the least.
I decided that I needed to do something during my lunches that took me away from the grind and stress all around me, and I would walk over to a cat shelter that was a few blocks away from where I worked and pet kitties.
This was a no kill shelter, and they had rooms of cats free from cages, and they were able to run around the rooms, sit on furniture and play with people who visited.
I remember the moment I knew Anika had chosen me.
I had been coming weekly for a few months, and playing with all the kitties there, and she hung back a bit, checking me out, I am sure.
She was probably 2 or 3 years old, and she was put in the shelter a year earlier with a litter of kittens. All the kittens were taken, but Anika was not. She was waiting for me.
I had just recently lost my kitty Lydia who disappeared into the night, and I decided I was ready to actually choose one of the kitties I had been playing with.
I already had Vlad, a huge black panther, so I wanted to keep the streak of awesome Tabbies I have had since childhood, so into the room where a few Tabbies were laying about I went. This is when Anika knew it was time to come into my life.
Instead of hanging back as she usually did, she chose the day that I walked in there ready to adopt to literally walk up to me as I was playing with another cat and grab my skirt and meow at me. I literally remember the first time I really looked into her eyes, and I knew it was she who chose me, and I was defenseless to her soulful eyes.
Anika and Vlad in their drawer
Anika was there for me through the healing I was still doing from the fire. I was able to walk and work, but my emotions were still raw, and I was still going through some PTSD nightmares and depression.
Seeing her beautiful face and hearing her purrs at night really got me through that hard transition.
Vlad was a senior cat who I saved from living in a friend’s bathroom. His long time owner died, and my friend was trying to find a home for him. My time with Vlad was not very long. He was about 13 when I got him, but I got to love him and take care of him until he had Kidney Failure at age 19. For those 6 years, we were an amazing team and he was my little love panther.
As Vlad got skinnier and skinnier and started needing fluid shots more often, I told him to let me know when he was ready, and he did by going into convulsions, so I had to make that horrible decision to have him put to sleep on the very same day as my then band’s record release party.
I couldn’t stand watching my baby have another one of those horrible episodes.
I remember telling Anika that Vlad would be leaving us, and she went over to him during his convulsion and head butted him and laid with him until it stopped. She was always such a healer.
I had Vlad put to sleep that morning, cried with Anika in my bed for most of the day, and in the evening got up out of bed, put on my corset and makeup and played a record release show.
I had booked the show, and it was all my friends’ bands who had also met Vlad, so I had an altar for him with flowers, a picture of him, candles and incense going for the whole night. Every band rose a toast to him and played songs for him. Shots of booze were done for him. It was more than just a record release show, it became the cat release show too!
At this point, it was now just Anika and I…and she seemed fine with it, although I could tell she was a little less playful and I felt bad for her, because I was gone so much with my stupid commute to West LA.
Around this time I was really changing as a person.
Anika had seen the rockstar me, and late night visitors, parties until all hours after shows and loved everyone who walked in the house. She was always such a love bug and never afraid of commotion, and in my mid to late 20’s…there was lot’s of commotion in my little house!
I had many nicknames for Anika, and I remember distinctly when her name Ani-Bear came to be. It was during one of the huge courtyard parties we would have where a band was playing, and there were hundreds of people milling through the houses. A complete stranger was in my house, and she was playing with Anika who was sprawled out on my couch like the party of the century was not even happening all around her.
The girl kept calling her a kitty bear, because she was like a big teddy bear.
I don’t remember who that girl was or if I ever even knew her name, but the bear part stuck, and Anika then became Ani-Bear, and would remain that for 15 years to come.
I had many years of the parties, people, being on stage and “on” in the office doing pitches and proposals, and finally something happened at age 30, and my first hermit stage began.
I stopped drinking for a year, and took up meditation, met Amma the Hugging Saint and started going to healing retreats and sound baths instead of live shows and clubs.
I had some changes happen in my work life as well, and was unemployed shortly after meeting Amma the Hugging Saint, so I decided to go to Massage Therapy school and go further with my Reiki education instead of going right back to the soulless world of the Media Industry.
During this time, I was told about a litter of kittens who needed a home before they would be taken to the pound, so I went to see them, and in came Amma the cat to the household of Anika and I.
Amma the Cat…
I don’t have a lot of pictures of Amma as a kitten, because for one thing, it was before I had a smart phone and also, soon after I brought her home, I was put into the hospital for over a month with colon issues, which finally resulted in me getting a colon resection.
Anika was such a good mom and friend to Amma…I often wonder if perhaps it was because Anika at one point had been a mother, but her kittens were taken away from her so early.
Anika was also the most incredible healer for me during that time.
For 9 solid months leading up to my hospitalization I was in extreme pain in my gut, and even though I was trying to do Reiki on it and taking pills a doctor kept prescribing that were doing nothing to help me, nothing would stop the pain.
At night, or even in the day, the many times I had to call in sick because of the fire in my gut pain, Anika would lay RIGHT where it hurt and just purr. I would fall asleep to her purring and wake up to her asleep on that same spot. She would follow me everywhere I went, even the bathroom making sure I was ok, and the moment I got back into bed, she was right on that same spot again.
Once I got cut open to have part of my colon removed, and came back home…she was right back with me, but she knew I was in pain in a different way, and that she could not lay directly on my surgery wound, so she would lay right beside me.
Anika, Amma and I grew together as a family, and during this time in my life, I was able to land a job still in the Media Industry, but one that was not in West LA. It was only a 10 minute commute from me in Pasadena, and I relished having that extra 15 hours a week that before I wasted on the LA Freeway system going 5 miles an hour.
This was also around the time I knew that my soul needed to sing, write and heal for a living instead of doing the stressful sales bullshit I had been doing for almost 15 years at that point. Even though the commute was short…the time I spent there was horrible, people were toxic and my soul was screaming at me to spend that extra 15 hours a week building my healing business in order to one day get out of there.
So I did…and I would work 9-5pm at the grind and then take clients 6-9pm and on weekends.
I then decided that I needed to get out of the tiny house I was living in. I was serious about building The Healing Woods, and I didn’t want to have to drive to everyone to work on them…I wanted to have a home big enough to welcome them, and to have a separate healing room in the house.
The perfect 2 bedroom house came into my life, and Anika, Amma and I moved into it.
I remember being dead tired, bruised and aching after moving a U-haul worth of stuff with 2 friends, and going back to my old home to pick up Anika and Amma to bring them here the first day.
Amma was so scared, growling and hid behind boxes for the first week.
Not Anika…she walked right in, and plopped down in the middle of the living room and rolled around on the floor. Always a fearless soul…
Now that I had my healing room set up, I put myself on Yelp, and the game changed…I was getting not only friends coming in for sessions, but complete strangers who have now become amazing friends and clients.
Anika was there to greet each and every Healing Woods client.
Anika loved crystals and would always seek them out.
My clients who were very sensitive to guides and animal spirits told me that she was a huge healer, and that they always felt that their session at The Healing Woods began when Anika ran over to them to say hi.
Anika was part of every reading…she would sit right near me as I was doing the readings as if to supervise. She would even pick cards for people and bless them by walking on them, or even laying down right in the middle of it.
In the beginning, I was focused on mainly massage, because I had just gotten out of massage school, and more people knew about massage than Reiki, so I would do massages and then give people about 10 minutes Reiki at the end to introduce them to it.
Like clockwork…Anika knew when the massage ended and the Reiki would start, and the moment I turned the Reiki on, she was at the door of The Healing Woods talking to us and walking in, because at that point she learned how to open doors. More human than cat, I’m telling you!
On April Fools Day, 2010 I had the last huge accident that shook me up to my core and landed me in the ER.
A woman ran a red light right into my driver door, and I had to be cut out of my car with the Jaws of Life, and ended up with a cracked rib and bruised lung.
Again, nurse Anika was with me the whole time, and her warmth and purrs got me through some dark and painful nights.
After that happened, I really had ANOTHER new lease on life, and I knew that it was time for me to get super serious about building The Healing Woods, so I really started working it at events, healing fairs, etc. Life is short, and I had already almost lost it 3 times…it was time to get serious.
After about a year or so of intense focus on building up The Healing Woods, I was let go by the very last Media Industry soul trap I will ever allow myself to work at.
I knew how much money I was making monthly, since I started keeping track, and I did receive a severance package and I knew I would be getting a settlement from the accident, so I took the Leap of Faith, and said no to finding another job, and instead built my business.
I was living the dream…working from home. I remember the first week or so I was so excited to be able to cuddle with Anika and Amma as long as I wanted before getting out of bed. I didn’t have to jump into the shower the moment I heard the alarm buzz.
For the past 5 years I have been so blessed to be home a lot to be able to get to know Anika on even a deeper level. She has been part of my meditations, my visioning work, my magical work, and how much did I love having my breaks in-between clients where I could love her up and make her purr?
About 2 years ago, she started to show me signs of aging and losing quite a bit of weight. Before these past 2 years, people always remarked at how young she looked, no one ever believed how old she really was. She was diagnosed with Kidney disease…but the doctor said her levels were holding up and that looking at her, she wouldn’t ever believe she was the age she was.
About a year ago, I noticed her legs got more shaky and she lost even more weight, but she would still play, leap up to the table and run around with Amma in the house…all things she did until literally her last day on this earth as a cat.
Since October of 2016, I had been taking her to the Vet pretty regularly, and she had been poked and prodded, and diagnosed with Kidney failure, a heart murmur and possible thyroid issues. I was giving her injections of fluids and making her as comfortable as possible until she let me know she was ready.
Christmas day she showed me she was ready, and the next day I had the vet come after I cried many tears into her coat, and she licked just as many off my face.
Very last picture of Anika about 30 minutes before her release
I know her spirit is still in this house.
Just after her release, Jamie and I were talking about how strong her spirit was, and The Healing Woods door banged…that was exactly what Anika would do…it was her favorite door to open, she loved being a part of the healing to clients who were open to her being there. Amma was sitting with us, and there was no wind that day. That was Anika letting me know she is still here.
A few days later, my friend Bree came over and we were eating dinner, and again I heard The Healing Woods door bang about 5 times…I opened it up and walked in, and there was Amma stuck inside! I remember leaving the door open since Anika was no longer around, and Amma hardly ever goes in there.
I’m pretty sure Amma felt Anika in there, and wanted to hang out with her, and then “somehow” the door closed behind her, and Amma wasn’t sure how to get out, so she kept on banging on the door. Anika totally did that to her. =)
I have had a candle burning for Anika silently since the day she transitioned to my spirit guide, and a few days ago I was talking to her, and all of a sudden the candle started spitting and crackling LOUDLY. I was asking her to bring me a new kitty when it was time, and I wasn’t sure if it was too soon or not. Another crackle…I knew it was her saying, “DO IT!!”
Out of nowhere I am on the Humane Society website looking for male Tabbies, because I want to keep the Tabby vibe going for sure, and I think having a male energy in the house will balance things with Amma and I both being female.
That’s when I see him…the ONLY male Tabby they had…and I immediately printed out the application, and called them the next morning the minute they opened.
My newest Baby Tommy
Now this cat I later learned was not even supposed to be on the site, because he was in a foster home and too young to be adopted. Somehow I was able to see the link the EXACT day that he came back from the foster home to be available for adoption through the kennel. I saw it before it was supposed to be released, and Anika, I know had EVERYTHING to do with that.
With how cute Tommy is, he would have been snatched up quickly within a day or 2 of hitting the kennel. Perfect timing, indeed.
Anika was named by the place I rescued her from. I thought it was cute, and I was a huge Pippi Longstocking fan as a child, so I kept that name. Plus, she was already used to it.
I decided that my new baby boy Tabby is of course going to have to be named Tommy, since in Pippi Longstocking, Tommy and Anika are the brother and sister that go on adventures with Pippi.
Tonight a cleansing rain is washing over my spirit and my house, and it is the first night I have Tommy home. He is perfect. He plays with the same things Anika does, rolls around just like she did and his fur feels soft like a bunny, just like hers did.
Amma is not happy about the addition to the household, but I keep reminding her about how welcoming Anika was to her when she first come into my life many years ago.
I will forever love my beautiful Ani-Bear…and I feel as though I am now getting to know her on an even deeper spirit level, now that she is my spirit guide.
There was only so much she could do as a cat…now as Spirit, her power is infinite.
Last few hours with Ani-Bear on her favorite place to perch…my shoulder.