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.
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.
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.
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.