|A symbol of hidden truths|
My first reaction was to just shoo it off before it got any farther into the house. I stood up from my computer, walked into the kitchen and calmly stated, “Hey, you can’t be in here. You need to go.”
The ferret looked up at me and then turned and smoothly stepped out the kitchen door and onto the porch. There, it turned back to look at me once again and lemme tell you, this thing was cute. I took another step forward and it hopped off the porch and into the current bush next to the door. It was surprisingly loud as it moved through the dry grass and leaves at the base of the bush.
|The look I got from the ferret after it stepped out onto my porch|
I stood on the porch for a moment and listened in the dark, after a few seconds of rustling it was gone.
If you’ve never seen a ferret it would be hard to describe the life and vitality that these animals can project. They are closely related to a mink, so their fur is gloriously smooth and silky. Even though I only saw this little guy for a moment, maybe less than 20 seconds, it’s coat looked radiant and shiny under my kitchen lights.
I can’t say this strongly enough, seeing a wild ferret right in my house was highly unusual. It’s markings matched the Black Footed Ferret, one of the rarest mammals in North America. I saw it clearly, it was about 18 inches long, I was looking down at from probably less than four feet away.
During the warmest part of the summer my cabin gets hot by the end of the day. The temperature of the dry mountain air will drop dramatically just as the sun sets so in the evening I’ll open up both the kitchen and screen door and it doesn’t take long for the house to cool down. The kitchen door was fully open to the outside when that ferret walked into my home.
The sighting of the ferret in my kitchen happened at around 9:30 at night. I immediately posted a facebook note with a short explanation of what had just happened. It wasn’t too long after that I went to bed. I got up early the next morning (curiously, much earlier than usual) to find an email from my brother with the subject: Mom is in the hospital. He briefly explained that Mom had collapsed earlier that morning, and because of the time difference he was waiting to phone me.
I immediately called and heard the news that my mother had a hemorrhage in her brain, and it was extremely serious.
My mother has been suffering from Alzheimer's for over six years, and the severity of the disease has been increasing in just the last few weeks. I was following her decline by checking in with my sister over the phone.
My father, Alexander Clelland, died of a stroke just a little over a year ago, and my mother still thought he was alive. She did beautifully at his funeral, and in that moment she seemed to understand that he was gone. But after that it just felt cruel to ever bring it up. When she would ask, Where’s your father? We would just calmly tell her that he was out getting his hair cut. This last year of my mother’s life has been sad and isolated. She has been in a memory care facility at an assisted living community, and this place is about as nice as it can be, but her condition left her her confused and frightened.
|Me and Mom playing with 'photo booth' in 2009|
There was a very real sense of relief that her suffering was over. My brother, sister and I all spoke about how we were at peace with her passing.
That beautiful ferret came into my home the night before my mother had her brain aneurysm, the event that lead to her death a few days later.
I said to the ferret, “Hey, you can’t be in here. You need to go.”
That seems a message more to my mom.
Yesterday I spoke to a woman who is an animal communicator. When I mentioned this ferret in my kitchen (and before I mentioned my mothers death) she listed off what a ferret represents as a spirit animal. She said it meant joy, playfulness and good news.
David Weatherly (a shaman and friend) wrote me this: in shamanic terms, the ferret is a symbol of the ability to see hidden truths. There is no more elusive truth to the living than what is on the other side of Death’s great door.