Published at 17 November 2016 9:52 AM EST in 'General'
As I write this Merlin, my beautiful black cat, is sitting beside me … he is looking rather haggard and tired. In just under a month it will be his 16th birthday. I am trying to type one handed as I scratch his chin, his paws hugging my arm. His tail twitches happily against me … and my heart breaks.
I have a men’s knit blue button up sweater that is at least four sizes too large, or was when I use to wear it. When Merlin was a kitten he had a sixth sense about when I put the sweater on. If I sat down on the couch he would invariably be there within seconds, crawling inside and wedging himself as far into the arm as possible. As he grew less and less of him fit inside. Eventually, when the sweater aged and tore, it became Merlin’s bed scrunched up in a corner and then later it came to rest at the bottom of the cat carrier to bring him comfort whenever we needed to take him somewhere. Soon, however, that sweater will serve a different person, it will be the thing that we bury him in.
It is hard to believe that sixteen years can go by so quickly. It seems like just moments ago Merlin and Tiger, his twin brother, were fighting under the recliner in my livingroom. One underneath the chair and the other pouncing from outside.
I can still see them hunting ladybugs in the green room at my parents house. Or stalking pigeons from the window sill overlook the balcony in one the apartments Dan and I lived in.
I can hear Merlin running laps around our first house in Guelph because his nemesis, a neighbor's cat, dared to poke his head above the sill in the kitchen window. I see the pile of springs that awaited me at the door of my bedroom when I woke up in the morning, no matter how diversely I scattered them around the house the day before.
I vividly remember the two of them sneaking over to see what the hell was crying and make so much noise in the funny basket we brought home … and months later scampering away as fast as their kitty paws could carry them whenever Huxley looked in their direction.
I remember Tiger laying beside my pillow every night in the weeks leading up to his death purring so bloody loudly that I couldn’t sleep … and how quiet it was after.
For both of them to be gone is incomprehensible.
Some may find it silly to be as emotional and distraught about this as I am. It is, after all, only a Cat. To those people I would say, you have only ever had a pet, and never known the sheer joy of having a companion. There is a difference.
A pet is an animal that you enjoy. That you care for, and that you play with once in awhile.
A companion is magically beside you when you are sad rubbing against your legs, almost as if to say “I’m here”. They are curled up under the blankets with you when you are so sick that you can barely move.
When life hits you with the most overwhelming loss you can imagine. When the life that was once inside you is gone and you are left with pain, and grief. When you are so overwhelmed by it all that you don’t want reality to exist and you hide in your room hoping it will go away, that is the moment when a wet nose nudges up to your arm and flops down beside you. A soft comforting purr that knows your grief and loves you through it, unconditionally.
I was very lucky I got my Merlin for nearly sixteen wonderful years. I just wish I knew how I was going to sleep tomorrow night without him curled up at my feet.
Photo 1: Merlin Digital photo 2007
Photo 2: Recliner Wars Analog photo 2000
Christine Morton -
A mother, a daughter, a magic bean grower,
a hoper, a lover, a dandelion blower.
A dreamer, a wisher, a photograph maker,
a writer, a hoper, a lesser road taker.
© 2016 Christine Morton Redhead Snaps
© 2016 Christine Morton Redhead Snaps
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