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Pete’s In Heaven!
Niki Behrikis Shanahan
Growing up our family didn’t have any pets, so I didn’t give much thought to having a companion animal. I suppose if you never had it, you don’t know what you’re missing. My husband, Jack, always had cats in his family growing up. When Jack and I were first married, we lived on the second floor of a condominium. Little did we know who was living on the first floor – it was Pete! (To enlarge the photo of Pete, click on the photo or link)
One day we heard a cat meowing in the hallway outside our door. Jack dashed to the door and let the cat in. It really didn’t matter much to me if he let him in or not. Pete kept visiting us, each time meowing outside the door for admittance. One day I was writing at the kitchen table when Pete came in. He got up on the chair beside me, and I looked into the most beautiful green eyes I had ever seen! On other occasions he would walk around, and rub up against my legs as I did the dishes at the sink. Little by little this short fluffy bundle of love stole my heart!
Then it happened. I started looking for him – I was hooked! We started feeding Pete on a regular basis, and he would stay for long periods of time. One night he didn’t leave, sleeping on a rocking chair in the living room all night. Finally, I discovered that he belonged to Judy on the first floor. I said to her, your cat has been coming by to visit me, and he stayed overnight a couple of times. I hope you weren’t worried about him. She said, no, if he bothers you, just throw him out. Judy said that she was getting married in a couple of months and she didn’t know what she was going to do with Pete, because her finance had a dog that couldn’t tolerate other animals. That was the day that I decided I would definitely adopt him. We named him Pete, a name I always liked. It has a nice sound – Pete Shanahan! Judy also told me that he was 8 years old.
Jack was going to night school and was busy with that most of his spare time, so Pete and I kept each other company. Pete would get up with us in the morning and have breakfast – he was always very vocal about being fed promptly! He would sleep on our bed, usually laying on my legs all night, sit on my lap in the evening, nap in my arms, and play toy and flashlight games with Jack. He’d let you put a little rubber duck on his head and allow us to be amused by it – Pete was a good sport. He was very cooperative the year I put a Santa hat on his head and asked him to pose for our Christmas cards. He loved to sit under the Christmas tree. When I would bring the tree into the house and lay it against the wall before setting it up, Pete would sit under it – ready to start celebrating right away. He loved to open the toys at Christmas, and exchange gifts and cards with his Grandma and Auntie every year.
Fourteen wonderful years had passed. It was a couple of weeks before Pete passed away that he was sitting on the bay window in the dining room. I went over to see him, and there I saw a beautiful pure white cat outside directly in front of the window where he sat. The white cat was staring up at Pete. I called Jack, to come over to see this white cat that seemed to be in a trance as she gazed up at Pete. Jack came over to take a look, and within a couple of minutes she vanished from sight. I immediately ran outside to leave her some food in case she came back, but all the while I had an uneasy feeling inside me that this was no ordinary cat. There are very few outdoor cats in our neighborhood; we never saw this white cat before, and we’ve never seen her since. I couldn’t get it out of my mind that the beautiful feline was an angel, or an angel in the appearance of a cat, ready to take Pete to heaven. I asked Jack if we could pray for Pete a little later that night and we did. Within a couple of weeks Pete did pass away from a heart attack.
Pete lived to be close to 22 years old, which is a long lifespan for a cat, but not enough when you love someone. He enjoyed a very loving life with us, and was really only sick the last year of his life. Even though it pains us deeply that he is gone, we know he’s with the Lord in heaven waiting for us to join him someday.
The great bond between Pete and I inspired me to research the Bible to see what God had to say about the afterlife of animals. I found many scriptures in my research, and I felt the need to document it in an organized way. Once I began to type everything in a file, I said to Jack, “I think this is a book!” I was delighted with my findings that proved scripturally that all the animals go to heaven. I titled the book, “There Is Eternal Life For Animals.”
On December 15, 2002, it was exactly one year since Pete passed away. I was feeling very depressed, and just moping around the house. I looked out the window and noticed that it was snowing. Later I looked out the back window at the place where Pete was buried, right under the big rock. I had to look twice because there was a snow shaped cross on the big rock right over Pete's grave! Why isn’t there any snow on the rest of the rock? There’s snow everywhere else, on the trees, on the grass, everywhere. But on the rock it was only in the shape of a cross. After the snow was gone I went to see what the rock looked like, and I noticed that there was a branch which formed the vertical part of the cross, horizontally it looks like an indent in the rock. We have photos of the rock fully covered with snow, and others with the snow melting, and we have a photo of the rock with the Cross of Snow. The branch remained there throughout the winter, but we didn’t see the Cross of Snow again – only on the one-year anniversary of Pete's passing. I know it’s a sign from God that Pete is alive and well in heaven! He gave us this sign to comfort us and reaffirm our beliefs that Pete is in heaven. I believe that God wants us to share this story with all those who are feeling the pain at the loss of their animal companions. It’s true that God preserves people and animals as is stated in Psalm 36:6.
I often wonder what it’s like in heaven, and what everybody is doing. Sometimes I imagine Pete’s playing with the other animals, perhaps riding on a big elephant! I’m sure he’s spending time with my Dad, who passed away 40 days before him. He and his Uncle Johnny, my brother who passed away at only three years old, are no doubt enjoying each other’s company.
Now whenever I feel sad about my boy being gone, I stop and think – now I have something to look forward to. I’m going home to Pete someday and we’re going to live forever in heaven! Then after 10,000 years go by, I’m going to turn to Pete and say, “well son, what do you want to do today?”
Niki Behrikis Shanahan is the author of “There Is Eternal Life For Animals,” Pete Publishing, www.eternalanimals.com. Article copyright 2003 Niki Behrikis Shanahan. All rights reserved. Not to be used without author's explicit written authorization.
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