27 January 2014

"Nothing ever goes away until it has
 taught us what we need to know."
   - Pema Chodron

My beautiful, healthy, loving seven-year-old silver tabby cat, Shiva, died a minute or two before midnight on Saturday night. 

He died while putting my husband to bed, an activity he enjoyed and did for both of us no matter what the hour. I wasn't in the bed, or the room, when Death came for Shiva. From the next room over, sitting at my husband's computer, I could hear the usual sounds of their nightly ritual. I heard a cough, as if Shiva was hacking up a hairball. And then I heard wailing and crying. 

One minute, everything was perfectly normal; the next, nothing was normal. I don't know what caused the coughing, and I don't know how a healthy young cat could drop like a stone, dying in seconds. We tried to revive him, but without success. 

We haven't slept since. Our lives have been disrupted in a way we'd not anticipated. The house is now too quiet, the rooms all too small to hold our grief. Our surviving cat, Mimi, close to Shiva's age, has been alternating between demanding attention from us, and hunting everywhere for his buddy. None of us feels right, and we can't really talk about it yet.

I am reminded of Sara Henderson Hays's poem. It will have to do for now, though, because I haven't the words to express my sorrow. I think Pema Chodron was wrong--I had much, much more to learn from my silk-furred little friend.

Poem to a Dead Kitten
Put the rubber mouse away,
Pick the spools up from the floor,
What was velvet shod, and gay,
Will not want them, any more.

What was warm, is strangely cold.
Whence dissolved the little breath?
How could this small body hold
So immense a thing as Death?

Sara Henderson Hay

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