A coyote is raised up with one paw on my arm, snapping at CiCi who I hold tightly to my chest, dodging as best I can to avoid her being bitten or taken. I wake up with my heart pounding and nearly knock CiCi from her place on the bed next to me as I lunge into an upright position.
The following night, in my dream I am again holding CiCi as I enter a house where we must stay. There are coyotes in the house. No room is secure and the door leading to the outside reveals only open space with no place to hide. My movement attracts the attention of one of the coyotes that quickly springs toward me. As I hold CiCi away from it I try to jam my fist into its snarling mouth and wake up crying. Nearby CiCi mews softly –her little “Are you okay?” –and I know I must do something to end these nightmares.
The third nightmare comes against my determined will. I am making my way across a field with CiCi in my arms when I see two coyotes a little distance away romping and rolling together. Abruptly they catch sight of me and, detecting the scent of my little cat, break into a loping run in our direction. Frozen in place I know I am no match for the two of them and cry out, “No!” This time CiCi mews, licks my nose and nudges my head until I am fully awake.
I know why I am having the nightmares. A friend of mine lives in a mostly unpopulated area where bobcats, coyotes, mountain lions and even bear often traverse their hilltop property. Up until recently they had two outdoor cats which sheltered in a secure enclosure during the night but ran free during the day. Through the years they had become beloved family pets –and they looked very much like my CiCi.
When resting they always faced in opposite directions, watching each other’s back. Then the male took sick and had to be put down, leaving the female alone. Nervous, she often spent the day on the rooftop. To make matters worse, the neighbors who lived at the bottom of the hill moved away, leaving their house empty. With their two large dogs now absent, wildlife on the hill has been emboldened.
A week ago, after the cat was let out in the afternoon, she did not return. When she was called to come back in before nightfall, my friend said they could hear coyotes in the distance. And though they have continued to put food out for her in hopes that she may have run away and hidden and would eventually come home, there has been no sight of her. Her fate, though I have not wanted to accept it, found its way into my nightmares.
The cycle of life on earth includes predators in the animal kingdom –it’s as natural as the rising and setting of the sun. Generally impersonal on a large scale, when featured on Animal Kingdom or a National Geographic special, I always turn my eyes away. Having never found peace with this aspect of our existence on planet earth, it is even more unsettling when it involves someone’s pet. Especially with my writer’s imagination.
I haven’t had coyote nightmares for the past couple of days. Going with my family on our traditional expedition to a local Christmas tree farm and watching my children and grandchildren interact and play together, helped. Opening the patio doors and listening to the steady, musical resonance of falling rain, helped. Holding gentle CiCi in my arms in the safety of our home helps.
Letting thankfulness envelop my heart, opening my senses to sound of the cleansing rain, and embracing the presence and warmth of what is alive to me today is allowing my spirit to heal. Not surprisingly, this is how I always find peace –as sure as the rising and setting of the sun!