The Balloon

cat peeking out from under bed

Waiting for Mom, pastel © B.E. Kazmarski

For the days prior to the Feast of All Hallowed, Samhain, the Day of the Dead and other celebrations of the dimming of the veil between this world and the next, I am sharing a few stories of visitations, the mysterious returns of my cats after they’d transitioned. None are scary, unless you’re afraid of something that isn’t physically there, but all include elements I can’t explain and only accept…and am glad to have experienced.

torbie cat


One night in early April, 1988, still with patches of snow on the frozen earth, a very small, very pregnant cat politely but confidently asked me if she could come into my home to give birth to her kittens. Of course I said yes, and I witnessed the entrance to this life of four independent and individualistic progeny. The last one born stayed with me after the others were adopted; the “runt of the litter”, the little cat with the big attitude, a torbie, my Fawn.

Ten years later, a friend sent balloons to my workplace for my birthday. The whole bunch was too big to take home, so I took one home and tied it to a lamp in my studio.

My birthday was also, sadly, the day an exam definitively diagnosed that Fawn’s cancer had come out of remission, and the chances of it responding to treatment a second time were slim.

On the morning I had Fawn put to sleep at home, my veterinarian brought her one-year-old daughter, not having day care accommodations that early in the day, and a friend agreed to babysit the little girl down in the studio while my veterinarian and I were upstairs. They untied the balloon from the lamp and played with it all during that time, then let it float freely around the studio. My other cats didn’t respond to the balloon aside from a few swats at the string, and it came to rest in a corner of the room.

Eight days later, I awoke once again with the daily dread of remembering that my little girl was gone and had not let go very easily, but I didn’t feel the deep sadness which had been with me all that time, especially upon waking. By habit looking over at the jewelry box on top of the chest of drawers where Fawn had spent many sleeping hours during our time in this house, and most of her last few weeks, I noticed the balloon hovering over that spot. Either it had been carried upstairs by one of the other cats or it had made quite a circuitous journey on its own because it was roughly exactly above where it had been hovering on the first floor.

This meant it traveled about ten feet along a wall to the foot of the steps, dipped down a foot to get through the archway, made a u-turn into the stairway and floated up the steps, made a right turn and moved about a foot in that direction while not floating up to the full ten-foot ceiling height so that it could make a jog through my bedroom doorway, turned left and floated about three feet to a spot where there was nothing to hold it in place.

My heart was in my throat, and a little tingle of joy in my heart. I had a sense of what it meant but was not fully awakened to its meaning.

balloon and photographs

The balloon over Fawn's photo

When I came home that day the balloon was still in its spot. I replaced a photograph of Fawn, which I had been carrying back and forth to work, on the sewing machine across the room where I kept photos of family and all the cats I’d lost. Instead of the sadness I had felt in that room I felt a capricious and happy spirit; that had been Fawn’s room since the day we had moved here, and my “yittle girl” always waited for me under the bed, pouncing out when she thought I least expected it and prancing around the room, playing hard to get.

I returned to the room later that evening to find that the balloon had moved across the room and was hovering over Fawn’s picture with the ribbon touching it, where it stayed, on its own, for two weeks until it was completely out of air, lasting much longer than all the others in the original bunch. None of the other cats ever touched the ribbon or the balloon, though they’d normally grab it and run.

pencil sketch of kitty on chair

Fawn wants the ceiling fan.

When Fawn discovered “up” as a kitten, she got “up” on everything as often as possible—narrow shelves on the wall, inside open transoms, on the top edge of an open door, she even had her eye on the ceiling fans. Balancing in place she would call for me to come and see her and gaze down smugly as I praised her, even if she needed my help in getting down.

Fawn was not ready to leave, and I wasn’t ready for her to go. For those eight days I felt her unsettled unhappiness and my own grief would not ease. Fawn chose to return to me as a symbol of cheerful celebration, an object which freely floats as high up in its space as it can, and I can only be reassured that the bond we had when she was here carried on to the next existence, that she loved me enough to let me know she had finally accepted and was enjoying the same antics she always had while here. How else would I be sure it was her, silly human that I am?


All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in purchasing one as a print, or to use in a print or internet publication.

13 Comments on “The Balloon”

  1. […] search the whole world over until my life is through/but I know I’ll never find another you). For Fawn it was “Will Ye Go, Lassie, Go?” a traditional Scottish song (Will ye go, lassie, go/and […]

  2. […] is Fawn comforting Kublai in the last year of his life as a puzzling, undiagnosed illness caused him to […]

  3. […] search the whole world over until my life is through/but I know I’ll never find another you). For Fawn it was “Will Ye Go, Lassie, Go?” a traditional Scottish song (Will ye go, lassie, go/and […]

  4. […] And especially so, when a mere ten years later I lost her to lymphoma, though through the pain of my grief she sent me a wonderful sign that she accepted what had happened; read The Balloon. […]

  5. […] frolics in the deep snow the winter it was two feet deep from nearly November to April.  There is Fawn comforting Kublai in the last year of his life as a puzzling, undiagnosed illness caused him to […]

  6. […] search the whole world over until my life is through/but I know I’ll never find another you). For Fawn it was “Will Ye Go, Lassie, Go?” a traditional Scottish song (Will ye go, lassie, go/and […]

  7. Chris Davis says:

    What a beautiful story!

  8. […] had just lost Fawn in March of that year, and she was still on my mind. Two years previous, we had lost Kublai, my […]

  9. Amby says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this story. I well remember that “very pregnant cat” (who became our Phurson) and her amazing kittens. Fawn’s litter mates included the much beloved Boris and Genghis who blessed our lives in so many ways. Genghis, our first black cat, lived to a very ripe old age and set the stage for our eventual adoption of two of the older siblings of the Fantastic Four. I think he passed along the joy of shoulder riding to Angus, so that I would continue to have a very tangible reminder of him.

    • animalartist says:

      Amby, well I remember that wonderful little family, my “first litter”, Phurson was the most patient mom, and you and Danny just fell in love with them. Whenever I look at Fawn’s portrait, I think of them and of you. What a great litter of kittens, and who knew that 20 years later we’d do it all over again?

  10. Ingrid King says:

    What a wonderful story. I love the creative ways our departed loved ones find to make sure to let us know that they’re still with us.

    • animalartist says:

      Ingrid, I love to be able to share this with understanding readers. Fawn was only 10, I felt so helpless, but her return changed everything I felt about not only her death, but others as well, and I really felt I could be happy about where she and the others had gone.

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