Her tail tip was broken, her crème-calico coat smelled of garbage, and her ears were plugged with dirt. She flinched whenever a hand went near her. She would not eat with her back to anyone, if she ate at all. Her name was Hannah, and when I rescued her I had no idea that she would, in turn, also rescue me.
It was 2006, and I was in therapy, trying to wrap my head around the trauma of my past. Living with me, Hannah was coming to terms with her own past as she acclimated herself to a new, loving home: cautious, she only allowed me to pet her if she was in her cat bed; she peered at visitors in fear; she trembled at the sound of a man's voice.
Together, we helped and healed each other.
One day, after a particularly intense therapy session, I sat beside Hannah on the couch. Her body lay in a semi-circle, the white of her belly exposed. My tears dampened her fur. I placed my palm where I could feel her rise and fall as she took in life and let it go. Closing my eyes, I focused on the vibration of her quiet purring against my hand. Every once in a while, she lifted her nose to blot my tear-drenched knuckles, and then rubbed the side of her cheek up my arm.