We’re all just walking each other home


When you have your own blog, you are able to write about your own life and what is close to your heart. This post may have limited interest for some.  But I do know that those who know me well and who knew Tiger, will want to know the news.   

The loss of a loved one is never easy.  Tiger, my sole companion, passed on, just as the sun began to rise, at 6am on Saturday morning, 3rd July 2021. He was nine years old.  I got him as a kitten in July 2012.  

He had kidney issues in the final year or so, and ultimately what I suspect was a stroke early morning on Tuesday 22nd June, 12 days before his passing. In those final 12 days he didn’t eat a single thing.  He did attempt to slurp some water. I fed him liquid foods and medicines via a syringe. 

He had two two-night stays at the vet hospital.  But by early morning Thursday 1st July, it was evident that he had taken a further turn for the worse.  I took him back to the vet that morning.

It ended with an infection, breathing issues, and as his body struggled and started to close down, a heart attack at the end.

I brought him home late Saturday afternoon and buried him at sunset.  Heart-broken.

Tiger my cat
Senor Tiger

He was a talker.  We always greeted each other. If I wasn’t around for a few hours, we would greet on meeting again.  

He probably got a hundred kisses and hugs per day. I imagine he often wanted to sleep and didn’t need me to annoy him.

He had the most beautiful markings and fur. I named him Tiger within the first two days.  His fur was amazing.  It sometimes seemed to change hue in different lights and shadows.  

He would often, in the midst of grooming himself, start to groom my forehead too.

I would often find him slurping water from the toilet bowl.

He would regularly climb ladders.  He had to have his nose into everything (like most cats).

Tree climber extraordinaire.  He would climb trees for fun, nearly every day, usually at 100MPH, and would sharpen his claws up on a high branch. Neighbours would be amazed at his tree climbing abilities.  Local dogs would be equally impressed. 

Strange dogs never got a look-in, Tiger would chase them off. Friends would sometimes bring a dog to my place and would go out of their way to reassure me that their dog is friendly and won’t hurt Tiger.  I had to tell them that I wasn’t worried about my cat’s welfare, I was instead worried about Tiger hurting their dog! On one occasion a friend’s dog persistently got in Tiger’s space, and in his face.  The final time saw Tiger say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH BUDDY and swipe the poor guy’s nose with a right hook. The blood came a’running!

Extra place at table. Like many cats, he enjoyed listening to conversation. I guess human voices made him feel safe and secure.  When friends came over, an extra seat with a cushion, would be set for Tiger.  Indeed, in his memory, I have continued to do this after his death. 

He knew words such as poo-poo, food, tuna, bed, walk, see you later. Sometimes I would shorten his name and use a pet-name, Tag.  

He loved to be told “I love you” and would purr. Indeed those were the final words we shared.  Amongst the tears, I repeated it to him several times, over and over, and he gave me a MEOW.

Tuna was his favourite thing in the whole wide world (only water-based tuna, no oil).  I only had to say the first letter of tuna, for him to meow.  Friday was another word that he knew, because Friday was the day we opened a new tin of tuna.

I have several videos of him running at top speed across the garden, to the terrace, when he heard me mentioning TUNA.  But here is a video from April 2021, only ten weeks before his death. Give it a few seconds to load. 

Over the nine years, there must have been easily a thousand plus photos and videos of Tiger taken.  They are on various directories and disks.  But the media on this page are a few that immediately came to hand this week. 

Tiger with snake
Occasionally Tiger would bring someone home for supper

 

Tiger strike a pose
Strike a pose

 

Tiger
mountain man

 

Tiger toilet
have you ever seen the rain

 

Tiger feet
Mister Sandman bring me a dream

 

Tiger mountain
I’m just a country boy

 

Tiger looking
Who goes there

 

Tiger teeth
Tiger caught in the middle of a big yawn. A fine set of fangs. 

 

Tiger table
Is this my best side

How do the living pick up the pieces after someone very special passes.  For me, there are feelings of great sadness, emptiness, helplessness, a void, loneliness, and the end of a chapter.  An era is over, and a little bit of you dies with them.

It’s been a week of beating myself up.  What could have been done different.  Why did this have to be the outcome.

Yes, okay, death is a natural part of life.  But it’s always been difficult dealing with endings.  Funerals were never my forte.  One hugs and strives to do one’s best for the living. I don’t want people to come to my funeral. I want them to come to my life. Tiger sure came to my life.

You mustn’t cry. Stoic is the name of the game in the culture that I was brought up in, especially among the older generations.  I remember when dad died and an older relative (from mum’s side) telling me (a seventeen year old) to straighten my shoulders, keep my head held high.  In other words, a stiff upper lip. One daren’t show weakness.  

But emotions and feelings are the most natural thing in the world.

As I prepared to move to pastures new in the summer of 2008, I recall meeting by chance, an old girlfriend near the Town Hall in Coleraine.  It was a brief hello, how are you.  Although she wouldn’t have been aware of my plans, I knew it would most likely be the last time that we would ever see each other.  A few minutes later, as I drove my car out of Coleraine, I felt something drip off the side of my face.  It was tears that I hadn’t felt leaving my eye and was entirely unaware of. Emotions are the most natural thing in the world. They come from our core.  

My final words: I love you Tiger, I love you, I love you, I love you.  He gave me a meow back. He will always have a special place in my heart. My vocabulary isn’t extensive enough to express the depth of my love, admiration and respect for my special friend. But the memories will never die.

When in need of some spiritual rejuvenation, I often keep returning to Anne Lamott’s wonderful Ted Talk, where she speaks of the 12 truths that she has learned from life and writing. Her talk is full of so many truisms.  The video (at the bottom of this page) may be of some interest.

And finally, death. Number 12. Wow and yikes. It’s so hard to bear when the few people you cannot live without die. You’ll never get over these losses, and no matter what the culture says, you’re not supposed to. We Christians like to think of death as a major change of address, but in any case, the person will live again fully in your heart if you don’t seal it off. Like Leonard Cohen said, “There are cracks in everything, and that’s how the light gets in.” And that’s how we feel our people again fully alive.

She quotes the great Ram Dass, “When all is said and done, we’re really just all walking each other home.” 

Those are the words that have helped me get through this past week.

We are all just walking each other home.

 

Trudger

"I have spread my dreams beneath your feet. Tread softly because you tread on my dreams."

12 thoughts on “We’re all just walking each other home

  1. I am so sorry for your loss William of your dear friend Tiger.

    It is a terrible miss from the home, when a wee furry soulmate goes over the rainbow bridge….of all your memories of times spent together.

    1. Thanks May for the lovely response. Sorry for the delay in replying.

      Yes, it is not easy coping with the initial pain. Time blunts some of the edge of the pain.

      Hope you are doing well. All my best.

  2. I knew Tiger and this was an extraordinary cat.

    He was the only cat that I knew who would follow commands, guarded the house by meowing when people entered the premises and a tree-climber and hunter of the highest level.

    A great loss and as we say in my country: Forsa.

    1. Thanks Maarten.

      Yes, you saw how special he was. Nine years old, a character, and was relatively young and strong. His sudden demise shook me.

      All my best.

  3. This is so sad! I have always wanted to meet Tiger again, this most amazing cat. You could really make conversation with him. He used to accompany us during walks and impressed us with his climbing. We think of you, Will. You are not alone. Anje and Bismark

  4. Sorry for your loss William. He was a special cat for sure.

    Our pets are a special part of our lives. They become as close as family.

    My wife and I have had many dogs and cats over the years. Each in their own way have brought us much joy. It’s hard to say there was that most special one, but 2 years ago we lost him. His name was Cosmo. He was a beautiful and very intelligent Collie. So so much fun. He gave us joy every day, for 14 years. Always greeted us with a smile.

    We, especially my wife, miss him and think about him most dearly still. As you will also with Tiger. But the sadness moves on to fond remembrance, as we now happily reminisce about those days gone by of Cosmo along with the rest of our furry buddies. And yes, we still have another. Melvin our Tabby cat, who helps keeps us sane also. RIP, Tiger!

    1. Ken, I am so far behind, apologies for the delay.

      Thank you so much for the lovely comment.

      Cosmo sounds like a delightful collie. Collies are so smart. He clearly was a character and full of love. You are right, it is a grieving process. But the initial pain of loss, feels like it will never end.

      We always had a collie around the farm. My cousin had a collie that watched the TV. The dog’s favourite show, this was way back in the 1970s on UK tv, was called One Man and His Dog. It was a weekly show, where some rural farmers would compete, using their dogs to herd sheep up a field into a pen. That show was my cousin’s dog’s favourite tv show. He loved watching it.

      All my very best wishes.

  5. I am sorry for your loss.

    It’s a very beautiful postscript about Tiger – straight from the heart.

    1. Iben, apologies for the delay in replying. I abandoned the website for a while.

      Thank you so much for your kindness. I intend, at some point, to research one or two more of your stamps/letters, from the material you sent me last year. Fascinating material.

      My very best wishes to you.

  6. Hi there Will.

    So sorry to read of Tiger’s passing.

    Our pets hold a special place in our hearts and we do mourn their loss.

    You will be a little lost without his companionship for some time …treasure your beautiful memories and your wonderful photos .

    1. Sarah, apologies for the delay. I abandoned the website for three weeks.

      Thank you so much for your kind comment. Yes, pets are so special, a member of the family.

      I hope you are keeping safe and well. All my best.

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