Somewhere around this time last year I started slipping, headlong, through the cracks and into a black hole. (The cracks were bigger than they ought to have been because I'd neglected the warning signs: "Depression Ahead!" and so failed to make the necessary diversion.) Anxiety gripped one arm, sadness the other and it took many months (further counseling and a rise in the dosage of my medication), to struggle free from their tight grip.
On one particularly bad day I sat in a Hotel near the beach, staring into a cup of earl grey tea and wondering if I'd see colour again. Suddenly, in strolled Oscar. Now I'd met Oscar several times previous but still, I was enchanted and privileged when he launched himself upon my lap, curled up and took a nap. I like to think that Oscar has a Sadness Sensory System.
Oscar, the rotund, affectionate cat lives in a house near the hotel. He has managed to manipulate the workings of electronic doors and slips into the lounge/bar whenever he can - hoping for a scrap of bacon or juicy steak from a lunchtime sandwich. I had nothing to offer him (earl grey with lemon slices was not to his taste) but he stayed with me for over an hour. I stroked his thick black fur and whispered my woes into his ear, his throaty purrs letting me know he was listening to every word.
Oscar wore a regal collar with his address engraved on a silver disc. I made a note of the address and shortly after, posted him a thank you note for condescending to my needs and feelings that day.
A few weeks passed, and the free, local paper plopped through the letter box. 'Paper bin or perusal? Paper bin or perusal?' I opted for perusal. And was I glad I did! There on the second page, sat Oscar, posing proudly with his servant - a lady named Margaret - and the card I'd sent held between his paws.
Margaret (as Oscar's secretary) had written into the local paper expressing joy at receiving the card, with further tales of Oscar's warm personality and how he often provides "therapy sessions" at the hotel. (And there was me thinking I was the special gal in his life!)
Two little lessons:
1) Never forget the impact that a 'snail mail' can have. It's touching to receive a personal card in the post, "just because". It shows someone has thought of us and has taken the time and effort to translate that thought into action. If animals appreciate it I know fellow humans will!
2) The therapeutic effect of animals - as most of us know - is a tremendous gift. There are times when we may feel so misunderstood or sad in life that we feel desperately alone or worse, unlovable. Yet the love of an animal is such that they'll love you whether sad or happy. Never miss an opportunity to give a little affection and respect to an animal. They will give you oh so much more in return.