October 05, 2011

"Grieve not nor speak of me with tears..."

We recently lost Sylvester, one of our beloved cats. He passed away on October 1st, 2011, after almost 20 years - a good, long life for a little kitty.

Losing him has been much more difficult to bear than I'd ever anticipated. I've lost both my parents, and the loss of our little cat hurts as much, but in a different way. I can honestly say that I've spent more time with him, and have been around him more often than almost anyone else in my life, except for my wife. It's the time spent doing little things around the house: every little walk to the kitchen, every trip to the bathroom, every hour at the computer: he was there with us, communicating in his own way. His was a constant, comforting presence.

The emotional connection to a pet seems more direct and less complicated than with people. There are no ego, material expectations or cultural conventions to get in the way. It just is what it is. (Or maybe it's just me.)

With each passing day, Sylvester's absence evokes a little less grief, and and a little more reflection on the basics of a happy life. He never earned a buck in his life, but I never once questioned his inherent worth. He was priceless to me.

I'm amazed at how much love his little heart seemed to generate and absorb. He gave a lot more love and companionship than one would expect from a little five pound cat. In his life, he knew about happiness, fear, hunger, pain, pride and excitement. He knew about love and loyalty, needing and being needed. He knew about feeling tired and maybe even bored sometimes. But I don't think he ever really knew about sorrow, and I'm fairly certain he had no regrets. He was happy almost every day.

In that spirit, I offer this little poem:

"Grieve not nor speak of me with tears, but laugh and talk of me as if I were beside you. I loved you so - 'twas Heaven here beside you." - Isla Paschal Richardson.

1 comment:

Sandra said...

Thank you for this post on the loss of your little cat. I happened by and it turns out I too have lost my little one on January 25. He was younger but ill and had a full, amazing life as well... king of the "pride" at our house, four children, and two adopted kids, a few girlfriends, a few street fights, smart, wise, loving, a dear and great friend. My sympathies for your loss...