Her face was as black as the moonless midnight skies, and her chest and paws white as snow against her otherwise brown plush fur. Oh yes, my soulmate was a four-pawed type who stood a little over hip high next to me—all 110 pounds of fluff that she was! She was just a little 6-week-old butterball of a puppy the day we met and began the next 11 years of life together. The day we met was New’s Year Eve 1999—Y2K! While the rest of the world was out partying like it was 1999 or waiting for the world to end, I was spending my very first night with my girl, Kaya.
It’s hard to sum up 11 years. Mostly, it’s a feeling, a memory.
Everlasting Love: Michelle Jolene Looks Back on the Journey She Continues to Share with Kaya
Memories of laughter, overflowing heartfelt love, countless days of sunshine on me and my girl while we would sit on the warm stones of the creekbed in the woods. Morning songs of joy and praise in the sound of my girl’s deep wooooooooooo every single morning upon rising. Wooooooos when I would come home, woooooos when she was excited or happy, woooos for a confirmative yes to any question I may have been asking.
On our first road trip, it was just the two of us, moving 3,000 miles across the United States. We were living on a cliff over the ocean in San Francisco, California, and starting and ending our days together with my toes and her paws in the sand. I laughed at Kaya for trying to drink ocean water for the 100th time! We eventually moved back East, but we were no strangers to hopping in my car and going! Shortly after returning back to the East Coast, we were right back on the road! I had met a boy, she had met a boy! The two of those boys (one human, one with fur) and the two of us girls ended up hitting the road again! This time, for six months, we cruised the most beautiful and scenic areas of America in a 1978 Dodge camper van. Then there was the time I sold my house, my car and almost everything I owned and bought a piece of land for Kaya and me to move to Costa Rica.
Once everything was sold and we were ready to move, I went down to Costa Rica ahead of time so I could be prepared for her arrival at the airport and have a means of transportation that I could pick Kaya up in. I purchased an old 1980 Honda beater car. This was the only bad car I’ve ever bought in my life. The transmission blew within a few blocks, and it had to go right to a garage for repair! Only later I found out Kaya would not pass the inspection for the plane to be able to get to Costa Rica. I had already bought my land in Costa Rica, and sold everything but my clothes in the States! No matter. I left my beater car in the garage in Costa Rica and packed everything back up and came right back to the States. So, we started over, from scratch—again.
I love memories like this because Kaya was my priority always, and I would have had it no other way. You see, I got the bear when I had just turned 20. FYI: Kaya is the bear. Technically, her full name was KayaBear, although she was called by many nicknames and knew them all well! The ones in heaviest rotation aside from just calling her Kaya and KayaBear were LoveBeaR, LoVeFace, Kai, KaiKai, BearFace, FuzzaWuzza, FaceFace. Ha-ha—yes, the list of nicknames is a mile long. Kayawas always my priority and always the deciding factor for every big decision. Life gets real very fast when your besty is a 110-pound Akita! Want to rent? Good luck. Want to get whatever car you want? Good luck. I say this, giggling to myself as I write the words, because the memories are so vivid. I can tell countless stories of searching out places to rent over the years, yet ultimately boughta house (for Kaya!) because of the rent issue, and spending my twenties in station wagons so my girl was comfy. So it was no surprise when I had sold it all to move to Costa Rica that I came back in a heartbeat for my BearFace when she was essentially banned from joining me. What is life without love? Sure, I could have left her with family and got a new pup in Costa Rica. But Kaya was more than that to me. We had a true and very deep soul connection. The last two options never crossed my mind. I always had one priority, and it was her.
Watch Michelle Jolene’s First Video Tribute to Kaya Set to Queen’s “You’re My Best Friend”
Michelle Jolene’s Love of Kaya Leads to Finding Love in Partner
Following my fur love led me to my human love. About a year after returning to the States, I met the love of my life, who was over the top in love with Kaya as well! She finally had her first “daddy”! Don’t get me wrong, there were boyfriends in my 20s, but none of them came remotely close to loving Kaya and sharing a very special bond with her the way Ed did. Kaya was a quick learner and knew Ed as “daddy” very fast when I would say, “Daddy’s home!” Or “Where is daddy?” Ed had a dog, too, a beautiful red-coated girl named Ginger, about knee high in height. Thinking back on Kaya’s life, she was always so very happy. I couldn’t imagine she could be any more so, but she was. It was beautiful to see the connection between Kaya and Ed.
The four of us lived happily ever after for over a year until Kaya started getting sick. She collapsed one day. We rushed her to a vet. It was cancer. Cancer? My over-the-top, happy and loving organic raw-food-eating girl has cancer? My heart sank. I couldn’t understand how. Ed and I sobbed. Out of Kaya’s sight, that is. One very important and mystical thing I have to mention about my girl was that she was an empath like no other. I learned very early on in her life that she would physically manifest other people’s illnesses! There are so many incidences like this throughout her life, but I will share just one example so you get the idea.
During our six-month cross-country trip, we spent a few nights at my friend’s place in Boulder, Colorado. We arrived pretty late, and the three of us took to couches to hang out and chat a bit before drifting off to sleep. All of a sudden, the boyfriend (we’ll call him John Doe, or John, for short) was screaming in pain, clutching his left knee into his chest. My friend and I asked what was wrong, and he said that he didn’t know but that he was in so much pain. When he straightened his knee out, there was a loud pop! And it was over. Or so I thought. Five hours later, we all wake up. Kaya had been laying on the ground next to John when his knee locked. Kaya didn’t get up, go anywhere or do anything in between John’s knee locking and waking the next day, but when she stood in the morning, she stood on three legs, gingerly holding her left leg in the air. I thought maybe she had a “dead” leg and figured it would go away once she got up and walked around. Nope, she continued to walk on three legs.
I sought out some K-9 acupuncture in Boulder and got Kaya a session, but she felt no relief. After a couple of days, with Kaya having plenty of rest and no response to the acupuncture, I took her to a local vet. They gave her anesthesia so they could take X-rays. The vet comes back with the results, saying she tore her ACL and asking what happened to Kaya? I start telling her what happened to John’s knee. The vet looked confused and said, “No, no. What happened to your dog?”, and I said: “I’m telling you. She laid next to him when he hurt himself. That’s what happened.” There were dozens of strange events like this in which Kaya would literally “take on” any pain (be it physical, emotional, energetic, etc.) from others around her and manifest it physically. By the time she was 3 years old and with so many of these occurrences having had happened, I tried my best to keep her as sheltered as possible. I tried to keep her away from bad, sad, mad or negative energy, including my own! If I was upset or crying, I would never let her see.
Michelle Jolene and Kaya’s Final Months
Kaya’s last months were beyond special. I wanted every day to be a Kaya party, and it was. We enjoyed so many car rides and relaxing forest strolls, and we spent hours every day laying on blankets under the big tree in our yard. We spent what seemed to be an infinite time curled up, cuddling with each other. If you hadn’t known already, you would have had no idea she was sick. It wasn’t until the tumor got so big that it blocked her urethra and she was rushed again to a vet, who gave her a catheter. The vet told us to take her home for one last night to love on her but bring her back the next day to say goodbye. Up until that point, Ed and I thought she was doing so well that she must be healing. We were crushed when the vet gave us the news.
In typical Kaya fashion, though, she had still woooooooo’d every morning and still wanted to go for walks, with me on leash duty and Ed on the catheter. I say “every” morning because she ended up staying with us comfortably for 17 more days, even though the vet said she had less than a day. We took off work that entire time, and the four of us spent those weeks together in our tiny bedroom, packed wall to wall with two single beds and a futon cushion. I tried to stay awake every minute to cherish every last minute I had with Kaya. I held her paws and rubbed her gently and recounted story after story after story of us. Our lives. It was a beautiful and colorful walk down memory lane, and the storytelling and recounting went on for weeks.
Ed prepared a final resting place for our love, and we lined the casket in white blankets along with Kaya’s favorite pillows and toys. She was a big girl, and it was a big casket. I covered the entire top and inside of the lid in photos of our lives together. It was a beautiful final resting place for my girl’s furry earth form when her spirit was ready to fly free again.
Michelle Jolene Receives Kaya’s Afterlife Message
I recall within a week of Kaya’s passing, more than seven years ago, that a psychic medium approached and told me I had lost someone I had a deep soul connection with and who had meant the absolute world to me. The psychic seemed to know a lot and told me she knew how strong our bond had been and that I felt like I lost a piece of me, like I had lost a piece of my own soul.
The psychic closed her eyes and told me Kaya is my guardian angel now. Then the psychic got a little flustered for words to relay the visual images and feelings she was getting and kept saying, “I see feathers … I see feathers … feathers everywhere.” She opened her eyes for a moment to look at me and said, “I already told you she is your guardian angel, and she surely is, but the feathers I am seeing are not my symbol to convey that as they look and feel different.” She closed her eyes again, furrowed her brow and concentrated on what the feelings and imagery meant. She excitedly opened her eyes as she got the message clear this time and said, “You will be surrounded in feathers as a symbol she is with you.” She told me they would be coming soon, sometime within the next week.
Both a believer and a healthy skeptic, as Ed and I walked away, I told him: “I don’t know. I could see a feather, but how do I know it’s Kaya?” Even though I rarely noticed feathers at that time, I thought it didn’t sound too far-fetched to see a feather within a week. Ed clarified to me that the psychic said I would be surrounded in feathers and that this is how I would know it was Kaya. I felt a little sad because I could imagine seeing a feather perhaps but didn’t even know exactly what it meant to be surrounded in feathers. I thought that maybe it would be in a dream.
Just a couple of days after the psychic medium’s prediction, I walked out the front door and turned to walk toward my driveway where you look right out onto a grassy area with a huge old tree in our yard. All of us—myself, Ed and our old girls Kaya and Ginger—had spent many afternoons lounging on blankets and tapestries under the shade of that very tree just relaxing, playing, laughing, eating, sleeping and blissing out on the simplicities of life. In the days following Kaya’s passing, I had been lighting candles under the tree at night and saying prayers for her. And now, as I walked toward the tree, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing:
There were feathers everywhere!
The ground was literally covered with hundreds of feathers! Eleven of the feathers were sticking straight up toward the sky as if someone had placed them in the ground. The quills of those 11 feathers were not so much buried or stuck in the ground but just barely nestled in the soil and somehow sticking straight up toward the sky. I had never seen anything like it!
My mouth dropped, my heart lighted up and I yelled for Ed to come out and see! We both burst into tears of joy with the unmistakable message we had received from our KayaBeaR. We gently plucked the 11 feathers from the ground that had been standing upright, and to this day, I keep them by my bedside.
Honestly, I’m not sure which is more mystical: the feather message we received or Kaya’s many visitations to me in my dreams for all these years. I feel like she is still here because I see her so much in my dreams. I would say she visits me at least a dozen times a month and sometimes daily for weeks on end!