“And I see the leaves turn a bit in the air and the breeze coming in feels like the whole world is a pet that is breathing on me and I think, ‘Well, I am so sensitive and I am very fragile but so is everything else, and living with a dangerous amount of sensitivity is sort of what I have to do sometimes, and it is so very much better than living with no gusto at all. And I’d rather live with a tender heart, because that is the key to feeling the beat of all of the other hearts.'”
~Jenny Slate, Little Weirds
Greetings from the House of the Broken-Hearted. It’s taken me a few days to get to this post, with yet another chapter of sorrowful news. I am so used to writing about dogs. Their antics and full presence in my life has always been a more public thing here in this space of sharing. But the cat, well, the cat somehow occupied a quieter, more private, place in my heart. How to even begin to write about the gentle and constant presence of a quasi-domesticated creature who has shared our home for nearly 16 years? Yet with a few days to ruminate, and scroll through old photos, I knew I owed at least a blog post in honor of Ian Small.
It seems Iris and River were holding up the train for this old cat who, much to our sadness, opted to join the rest of the ginger-flavored crew onto the Next Great Adventure late last week. With age had come blindness and confusion, weight loss and miscalculations around the litter box situation. We had been navigating all of this for a good long while. When I took Ian into the vet well over a week ago, hopeful for a simple fix, she said, “Whenever you are ready, it’s time.”
I came home to sit with it for another week, to give a chance for goodbyes and a few more nights’ snuggling. But eventually, he peacefully joined the others. The vet reckons that the big dogs with their big physical presence and their tight routines, had actually aided in Ian’s adjusting to losing his sight a while back and with them gone from his world, he felt a bit lost.
We all feel a little bit lost here lately.
Ian was a tiny kitten who grew into a huge ginger bear. The kind of cat who hugged back.
In his prime, he didn’t know a stranger and welcomed all with curiosity and a sweet demeanor.
As he got older, napping was really his most sincere occupation, which he took quite seriously.
This is of course when he wasn’t studying the activities at the bird feeders outside.
It was a difficult decision to give Ian a peaceful passing. One wonders if the time is ever right. But in the end, he left us quickly and painlessly and I feel confident it was the right decision, as bereft as I was to have to go through with it. And there had been so much suffering here lately. I was not going to prolong it for our beloved cat.
It’s really strange to be in the house right now. So much change. So much loss. A mass exodus of what had been a true life’s blood of the household. It will be an adjustment I am sure. And I am soul-weary.
Travel beckons now. I am nowhere near ready. But I have in my heart lessons from some four-legged friends on how to be fully present at all times, how to relish in the sensuous delights of occupying a physical body, how to play and make friends and live in a state of beautiful curiosity.
And for all of this, I am deeply grateful. Rest easy sweet Ian Small. May there be tuna and catnip upon your arrival in the Land Beyond. You’ve earned it.