It’s a pleasure to welcome fellow blogger, cat lover and author Deborah Barnes back to Thoughts in Progress.
Deborah joins us today to talk about her latest book, PURR PRINTS OF THE HEART, and a subject that overwhelms most pet lovers – the loss of a beloved four-legged fur family member.
For those of us that have loved and lost a pet, the grieving process can be unbearably heartbreaking. There are a multitude of books available on how to deal with this loss, but few are written memoir style from the perspective of the pet as to why letting them go can sometimes be the greatest gift we give them, despite how difficult it might be for us.
As someone who has been opening her heart and home to animals for over 50 years, primarily cats, I knew a story like this was in order after I found myself sharing one of the most painful decisions of my life in 2013 –helping to cross my beloved 15 year old Ragdoll cat, Mr. Jazz, over the Rainbow Bridge – and that is how my second book, Purr Prints of the Heart – A Cat’s Tale of Life, Death, and Beyond was born.
It was not so much that his story was unique – Mr. Jazz, aka Jazz, was an ordinary cat and I didn’t have any grand adventures about his life to share. But in years past, when I lost a pet, my grief was private. But now, as a seasoned cat author, award-winning blogger, and animal advocate, my cat related personal experiences have become part of the public domain and the response I got from people on my blog who could relate to my circumstances were overwhelming. All of my emotions and feelings - from anger, to denial, to relief, to despair and more - were honestly bared to the world and I was getting bombarded with comments from people thanking me for being so open about what I was going through because it helped them process their own feelings of grief at the loss of their own pet(s).
It was because of that, my love of cats, and as a tribute to Jazz that I decided to share his story as a resource for helping people with the grieving process. But rather than writing it in a clinical, “self-help” format, I decided to write it in the wise, gentle, and subtly humorous voice of Jazz himself – from his early days as a sickly kitten that nobody wanted, to finally being adopted by me into a loving human and multi-pet filled family that had its share of ups and downs, to his final months whereby his health was declining and he had to deal with things like frequent visits to the vet, being force fed food, resentment issues with his human guardians, litters issues, and the finality of coming to terms with the fact he was dying and needing to convince his beloved humans to let him go.
Using my many years of experience with cats and my intuitive nature, I wanted to explore the subject of life, death, and even the afterlife (yes, Jazz actually did come to me in the afterlife through visions) through what I perceived was the mind’s eye of Jazz and rather than write in elementary “cat speak,” I gave him a personality rich in feline nuance that I thought befitting of him – wise, humble, practical, and intelligent – but also slightly sarcastic and ornery to tell the story of the life he shared with a cast of human, feline, and even canine characters. From mentor Kit who was a street cat by nature, to perennially bad boy cat, Zee, and his beautiful love cat, Zoey, to sweet puppy, Bailey, and many, many more, the story is replete with everyday situations that any pet lover can relate to.
But of even more significance, while the subject matter of the story might appear to be sad on the surface (yes, the book will make you cry), Mr. Jazz actually makes it a celebration. A warm, poignant, and comforting celebration of the treasured memories our pets give us, for however long or brief their time on earth in the physical sense is and his greatest message is the one that stays closest to my heart:
“All I ask of those of you reading my story is that you try to remember that life is finite. Love, treasure, and appreciate what you have in your lives as if it might be your last day because it very well might be. And when you lose a beloved pet like me, don’t be closed minded, afraid to feel love again – open your hearts and homes when the time is right to another pet that needs a furever home because there are so, so many animals in shelters who deserve a chance for a happy life. I promise it will not dilute the love you had for us, quite the opposite – it will fill our hearts with joy knowing you have given another creature a chance to love you the same way we did.”
The book retails for $15.95 in soft copy and $4.99 in electronic versions. Please use the above purchasing link to read book reviews along with information on all purchasing options, including the option to purchase an autographed copy directly from me (all books ordered directly from me include a custom bookmark and tissue wrap).
Deborah, thanks so much for joining us today and sharing look at how PURR PRINTS OF THE HEART came to be. Speaking from experience, it is difficult to lose a beloved pet, especially one that has been a part of your life for many years.
Now for those who aren’t familiar with Deborah. Here’s a bit of background on her.
Deborah Barnes resides in the tropical paradise of South Florida with her fiancé and feline family of seven. She is the author of the 5-star rated books, The Chronicles of Zee & Zoey – A Journey of the Extraordinarily Ordinary and Purr Prints of the Heart – A Cat’s Tale of Life, Death, and Beyond as well as the award winning blog, Zee & Zoey’s Cat Chronicles that continues to cover the everyday journey she shares with her cats along with topics from the humorous behaviors of cats to very serious subjects on pet responsibility.
Deborah was awarded 2013 “Writer of the Year” by Friskies Purina on behalf of the Cat Writers’ Association and she is also the Secretary of the nonprofit, Pawsitively Humane, Inc. of Miami, Florida, whose mission is to create public awareness and reduce the numbers of animals on the streets and in shelters through an extensive educational campaign.
For more on Deborah and her writing, visit her at the following links:
http://www.facebook.com/zeezoey (Zee and Zoey - Facebook)
http://www.facebook.com/purrprintsoftheheart (Purr Prints on Facebook)
http://www.pawsitivelyhumane.org (Pawsitively Humane, Inc.)
Thanks so much for stopping by today during Deborah’s visit. Are you a pet lover that has lost a beloved pet? If so, what helped you overcome or come to terms with your grief and sadness?