Graceling Cat

The beautiful cat we found in the Chili’s parking lot two days before Christmas has made herself quite comfortable in my bedroom and bathroom. She has no desire to explore the house. She simply greets me with a nod and a closed mouth meow when I enter her territory. It’s as if we have been roommates forever.

I call her the Graceling Cat after Kristin Cashore’s novels Graceling and Fire. She has one yellow eye and one blue eye. Recently I discovered her Grace. (A Grace is a special ability those with mismatched eyes possess. Read the books, they’re terrific.)

Graceling Cat has made her napping place on the ledge of my tub. It’s long and wide, perfect for displaying knick-knacks or supporting a lazy cat. Before she arrived, I had placed two tiles decorated by my children in their early elementary years, and a framed photo neatly on the ledge. This apparently was not acceptable to Graceling Cat. Every afternoon I would walk into my bathroom and find my framed picture knocked down. I’d set it back up and move it to give her more space. She’d knock it over again. I’d set it back up. This went on for at least two weeks.

Then one day I found the picture upside down facing the wall. I looked at her, shook my head, brushed it off and repositioned it even further down the ledge. The tiles, sitting on their tiny easel, remained untouched.

The very next day, I discovered my picture face down in the middle of my tub. I gave up. “Fine, you win.” She ignored me like cats do. I picked up the frame and gazed at the three smiling faces staring back at me. This was one of my favorite photos. Kai, Arielle and Eric standing on a small cement bridge over a stream on the side of a mountain surrounded by lush greenery. It was our first real family vacation. We rented a cabin in the Smoky Mountains and I took the picture during a day long hike. I flipped the picture over. In ink was written 7/03. It was taken four months before the accident that left Arielle paralyzed.

I asked myself why I had placed this picture in a spot where I would see it every day. The answer came quickly. It’s not to mourn what was lost but to remember to appreciate what is. Our family has been blessed with the knowledge that life can change at any moment.

During these same few weeks of back and forth with the picture and Graceling Cat, I had been working on a poem. I know nothing of poetry, I rarely read poetry, but sometimes phrases blink in my mind and I must write them down immediately or they will get lost in my mental “to do” lists. I was loading groceries into the car one day when two words flashed through my mind. Be Bold. I jumped in the front seat and scribbled them down on a piece of envelope. Several days later, the words flashed back and I sat down and listened to the silence. This is what I wrote.

When Life’s path seems long and no different from the day before-Be Bold.

When you’re standing on the line of indecision, afraid-Be Bold.

When you see suffering and feel compassion-Be Bold.

We are not the circumstances that drift across our path or the thoughts that mask our true selves. Be Bold-Let Go!

The day I finished the poem is the day I found the picture upside down in the tub. I realized that the two were connected and my Graceling Cat had helped me put the pieces together and understand the meaning hidden in a picture I had gazed upon for years. A picture that will always remind me to-Be Bold.


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The Picture Book Review

Reviews of Children's Board Books, Picture Books, Activity Books, and Graphic Novels

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