June 09, 2012

"Grieve not..." Part 2: The Life of Tiger...

In a previous post, I described the pain and sorrow of losing our little cat, Sylvester. Sylvester had a long life of over 19 years - for which my wife and I are grateful and proud, but all the same, little "Sly" was the first of our two cats to pass on. After Sly's passing, we took some comfort that his brother Tiger was still with us, and still relatively robust in his 20th year.

Well, the cycle has completed, and recently, our dear old Tiger reached the end of his days too. Thankfully, his final serious decline happened quickly, and his exit was painless and peaceful.

We'd had Tiger even longer than Sylvester. Tiger came to us as a tiny kitten of only six weeks. Just like after losing Sylvester, it has been the multitude of little changes caused by his absence which surprise us into tears. My body and senses had become so very acclimatized to the spaces he used, the sounds he made, the patterns of his behaviour, and the feel of his presence.

The difference with losing the second and last kitty, is that now there are simply no kitties left. When we lost the first one, a lot of our grief could be redirected into positive energy for the remaining one, who'd lost his brother and best friend. So, we lavished love and attention on Tiger, and he seemed to rebound and come back into his own during his last 6 months.

Now, life in our apartment is full of a thousand missing pieces. Emotionally, we need to tie those loose ends up into some new patterns, to turn loss into new forms and rituals. No more semi-senile meowing at three in the morning from Tiger, no more feeling of Sylvester's whiskers against my eyelids as he tries to gently wake me up, no more morning getting up, eating and insulin needles, no more sharing a moment cooling off by the living-room window sniffing the breeze, no more carrying Sylvester on my back so he can be the tallest guy, no more taking Tiger out into the garden to let him sit under his favourite bush and sniff the leaves.These were the sounds, sights, and feelings caused by two good little lives.

"Existence is suffering," as the Tibetan Buddhists say. Their physical work and suffering is now over, and I suppose that what I believe is that their energy is now released back into the world, to be recycled somewhere else, into something new.

Those small voices may be silent in the real world, but they will come alive for us even more in our inner, emotional worlds.