On Death and Friendship

One of my dearest companions died this morning.

Mingus has been the constant through two houses, through a season in hospital, through babies and sleepless nights. Every night for the past five years, Mingus has crept under the blankets and curled up in the space next to my womb, pushed to the edge of the bed as my belly grew over two pregnancies, purring over the scaffolding of the little people inside. From conception my babes heard that purr from inside their little womb-hut.

Last week, out of nowhere, he became deathly ill. As the vet bills escalated for some reason I thought that meant we were getting closer to recovery, like I could buy Ming’s way out of this. But as the moon rose each night, he sunk a little, into those unknowable cat shadowlands. Perking up during the day, and sinking at the night with the sun. My Mingus. He was always solar powered.

And then this morning he took his last inhale, his last exhale from this world.

As he lies curled at my feet for his last sun-bath, and my fingers rake his warming coat, I can can almost forget the spirit has left the body. Only a week ago he was curled up, purring at my belly as of old. The shock of life. The predictability of change. A reminder to always hold your dear ones close.

I’m not sure where it comes from, but a voice inside tells me I’m overreacting. That this is just a cat. That I should move through the day, through my interactions without fuss and without hurt. Whoever that dispassionate voice is, I tell them this: that I choose hurt. I choose hurt, and love, and friendship felt with just a cat. I choose strong bonds between nature and humans that make the whole world come alive, that enrich our being. Where partnerships with animals enlarge the scope of our mind, our stories, our humanity. I tell that voice that Mingus has taught me as much about what home is, what contentment is, and what refuge is, as any human I know.

This is a friendship worth mourning. Knowing the pain of what I have lost gives me answers to what I need to find next. Thank you Mingus, my teacher and friend.

mingming

 

12 Comments

  1. Oh my love, pets are such an integral part of family. The loss of one is always traumatic. For our children, pets are one of their first teachers. For us, the offer that unquestioning love & acceptance. Mourn & remember your furry friend. Sending you love. (And my tears too). Xxx

    by Neitz
  2. I hear you loud and clear on both the cynical voice and your response, because life is so rich with animal and human friends. When one is no longer there the heart aches. Take time to grieve the loss of such a fine feline friend. Great emotionally articulate post. Xxx c

    by Caitlin McGrath
  3. No Romy, you are not overreacting. I know exactly how you feel having lost a beautiful Siamese cat when I was young and in recent years 2 lovely Maltese dogs. Losing them was not much different to losing a human relative or friend. Animals teach us a lot about ourselves and unlike some humans they don’t seem to hold a grudge. xxx. Peter

    by Peter Krespanis
  4. Thank you for writing this.

    He was a huge pain in the ass in the early years, but he was definitely a central component of our dysfunctional little family.

    by Andrew
  5. Love! A gorgeous epitaph, and he looks like he was a gorgeous fellow.

    by g
  6. Oh no. Romy I’m so sorry about Mingus. That is heartbreaking news.

    I think it might be lovely to do some kind of ritual to help you be in and process your grief. Let me know if I can help with ideas.

    Much love to you and your lovely Mingus puss xxxxxx

    by Jenny OKeefe
  7. This is exceptional Romy and I am glad you feel you can honour his little cat life like this.

    by Lyn Malone
  8. so eloquent, with tears I write this.
    Only people who have truly known love with an animal friend can truly know life. Its worth the pain that will one day come, always hoping it is later rather than sooner, but the love of a true friend and companion animal person is one of the most special things we can have on this journey through life. They stay with us in spirit, moving on to whatever comes next for them, but always a tiny piece will never leave our hearts and is with us forever.
    My heartfelt sympathy, Tamara, Ducky, Ruby cat and Boodicca and Lilith the ducks xxx qqq

    by Tamara Griffiths
  9. What a stunning, heatbreaking tribute. “Cat shadowlands” is a place all its own. Ming was a friend indeed. You’re right to choose love and friendship, because that’s obviously what he gave you, and it hurts when you lose these precious pearls. Much love. xx

    by Julia
  10. Romy , you had a magical bond with Mingus. Secrets only you shared. Aloof and timid of others, scurrying behind the lounge, Mingus knew who he wanted and it was YOU. He loved you as much as you loved him, you understood his quirkiness , you understood when he wanted to be in his own company and you embraced the times he gave his love and companionship with equal love and kindness.

    He has gone to that other dimension of love, joy and peace. He sees you, but you don’t see him . Your connection of LOVE will never be lost. xx

    by Narelle Krespanis
  11. Dear Romy, I lost my beloved cat over a year ago and I still miss her. She fought hard in the end and tried to stay with me. She was very special and was my constant companion for 17 years. I do understand you pain. You can never replace a special bond like you had. Best that you can do is remember the wonderful times you spent together and that the love will always be there. Love, Kate xo

    by kate lindbec k
  12. Thank you all for taking the time to comment. It has been a hard week, that seems to have opened up wounds that go beyond grief. An opportunity, perhaps, for some good self-reflection. In the meantime, Mingus has been buried on our property. I chose a crabapple to go over the grave. The crabapple holds strong seasons with glorious blossom, rich fruit, autumn colors and winter slumber, to reflect this lesson of change and cycles.

    by romy zunde