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Pet Stories: In Your Own Words

Puff

By: Mark McCormick

I was 8 years old and sitting on our front porch. It was a warm spring day in Pennsylvania. My widowed Mum, older brother, and older sister were inside busily making our home presentable for a visit from our former nanny. She was coming all the way from England to see us, and it had been 6 years since we had seen her last.

As I sat quietly on our porch, a tiny white kitten came running up our driveway, right to me. She seemed very glad to see me. I bent over, picked her up, and she began purring very loudly. She was very young, all white except for a figure eight in calico colors on her back. My brother and sister came out of the house, saw me petting this beautiful kitten, and asked me where I got her. I told them she just appeared out of nowhere. We all fell in love with her immediately because she was such an affectionate animal.

We quickly decided that she must stay with us, even though we knew that our Mum did not want us to have any more pets at the time. We had already had quite a menagerie of pets. We always promised to take care of the animals, but somehow Mum always ended up with the daily responsibilities. Luckily when our nanny saw the kitten, she helped us talk Mum into allowing us to keep the kitten.

We were all delighted.

We loved that kitten more than any other pet we had so far. I named her Puff, after my favorite doughnuts, cream puffs. We lavished attention on her and watched her grow during the next year or so. She loved to go out and wander around our quiet neighborhood. I was always apprehensive about leaving her outside without a leash, but we lived in a rural area, and back then it was an acceptable practice. I was always the one who called her back in at night, unable to sleep unless she was safely back inside.

One day I was playing kickball with some friends in the street when one of my other friends called me over to his house. He had a box in his hands and as I walked up to him he said he had something to show me. I looked in the box and there was Puff. I thought she was sleeping at first, but my friend said he didn't think she was alive anymore. I looked on in horror as he showed me the wound where she had been shot by someone. Puff was gone.

I remember going into a state of shock, disbelief, and deep depression in the days following. I cried and cried, unable to understand how anyone could be so cruel. My family mourned with me, and we buried Puff down by the creek in our backyard, surrounded by all the children from the neighborhood. We planted flowers to mark the site, said prayers and held a little service for her.

Over the next couple of weeks, I couldn't seem to think about anything else but my poor friend. We never did find out who shot her. I couldn't concentrate at school, and often disrupted class by bursting into tears. Finally, I was removed from class, taken to the principal's office, and made to explain why I couldn't stop crying. The principal called my Mum and she had to take time off from work to come take me home. The principal told her I couldn't return to class until I learned how to deal with the situation and stopped crying.

Mum was upset, and tried so hard to console me. She made my favorite dinner for me, but I couldn't eat. I just crawled into bed and cried myself to sleep, missing my friend Puff.

That night I had a dream. I was at the YMCA swimming pool that I loved to go to so often. In the dream, I was sitting at the poolside by myself, feet dangling in the cool, calm water. It was a perfect sunny and warm summer day. There was a gentle breeze blowing through the weeping willow trees next to the pool. Suddenly I looked up and saw Puff running towards me! "Oh Puff, I'm so glad to see you!", I said. "I've missed you so much!" I reached over and picked her up in my arms. She was purring loudly. Then she spoke to me and said "Hi Mark! I've missed you too! But I live in such a wonderful place now and I'm so happy there. I can play and play and it's so beautiful there." I told her "I'm glad you're OK Puff. I was so worried about you." She said "Don't worry Mark, I'll be with you again some day. I won't forget you! I love you!" And with that I hugged her and put her down by the pool again.

I awoke and felt a sense of peace. I knew it was a dream, but I felt I had really spoken with Puff. I knew she was happy and that I'd see her again some day. I told my Mum about the dream the next day, and she said she was glad I had the experience. She hugged me and told me that sometimes life throws us bad situations, and we have to deal with them as best we can. Of course, having faith certainly helps us throughout our lifetimes.

I went back to school the next day, and didn't cry anymore when I thought of Puff. I can still see her sitting by the poolside, 35 years later. Many pets have come and gone in my life since then. When they have to go, it helps me to remember that where they are going is wonderful and beautiful, that they'll be happy there, and that I'll be with them again some day.

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