I had a few thoughts on how I could approach this week’s photo challenge, “Symbol.” I thought about taking pictures of my engagement and wedding rings, but I wanted to present a different interpretation. Plus, they’re grungy and need to be cleaned. I thought about taking pictures of the dinner I’m going to cook tonight. Because, to me, cooking is a symbol of love. Then, my gaze settled on the inside of my left wrist. And I smiled because my symbol was right in front of me.
The tattoo on the inside of my wrist is a recent acquisition. January 2015. It is a symbol of love, a symbol of heartache, a symbol of a sweet grey cat who was the center of my universe.
I’ve mentioned my cat Slater in previous posts. I lost her in December 2014 to cancer. The tattoo is in honor of her. In order to understand its symbolism I need to tell you the story of how Slater and I met.
I adopted Slater from a local cat rescue organization, Feline Friends. I was still single at the time and moving into an apartment that allowed cats (a deliberate choice on my part). I’ve always loved cats. With a passion. I was the kid who carried the family cat around by its neck, dressed it up, and lavished it with much more attention that it probably wanted. Too bad one of those childhood cats, Booboo, was mean, but that’s a story for another day.
When I approached Feline Friends I had a specific color/body type in mind: a large orange or cream colored male. I wanted a big, cuddly boy upon whom I could heap my love and affection. I was very clear about this when I communicated with Jo, the head…adopter? When I went to their facility to meet cats the first few were male, but not quite what I was looking for. Through email Jo and I had built a rapport, so she finally looked at me and said, “There’s a cat I want you to meet. Physically, she’s not what you’ve described. But, personality-wise she fits you to a T.” I heard “she” and inwardly cringed. I was not in the market for a female cat. I wanted a big male.
I reluctantly agreed.
They brought in this skinny little grey and white cat and put her down on the floor with me. She immediately began circling me, rubbing on me, purring noisily. That motor was an almost-constant throughout her life. She was obviously nervous, but so eager at the same time. I ran my hand down her back. Soft like a bunny. But, she was a skinny little female. They told me her name was Slater. I nodded, petted her some more, and then they took her out and brought other cats in.
After seeing a couple more cats I felt…dissatisfied. I just wasn’t finding what I was looking for, but I was intent upon adopting a cat that day. So, I said to Jo, “Why don’t you bring that little grey and white one back in.” They did. Teri, the woman who had fostered her came with her. And they told me her story: Slater was young, only 2-3 years old. She was running with a feral cat colony when she was humanely trapped and brought to Feline Friends. She had, at some time in her short life, likely been abused. When you lifted a hand to her in those early days she would flinch like she expected to be hit. She had a bb just under the hide just below her right shoulder. And, yet, she was a lover. Slater’s one goal was to love and to be loved. Jo said to me, “She’s our shining star.”
Ahhh…now you understand the tattoo.
After I lost Slater I reached out to both Jo and Teri. Both expressed their condolences and remembered her vividly, 10 years later. She had that kind of impact.
I started thinking about how I wanted to honor my sweet girl and decided that a tattoo would allow me to always carry a physical memory of her with me. I knew immediately what kind of tattoo would symbolize her: a shining star. Because she truly lived up to her reputation. I asked that it be designed to look like a shooting star because of the brilliance she brought to my life.
The largest of the three stars represents Slater, the middle star me, the third star (last, but certainly not least…because she loved him, too) my husband.
Slater…my shining star.