When I talk about death, it’s usually a mish-mash of what I've read about life after death is and how it’s a saviour for the souls of all living beings in pain. Talking about life after death seems so much easier than talking about death itself because it instills in you this realisation that one day, it’s going to be you and your loved ones. I bite my tongue everytime I think of this because how despicable of me to think of my loved ones dead.
It's not until you come face to face with it and ground yourself in the fact that in this moment, you’re breathing a sentient air and your senses are perceiving what feels like a stabbing pain in your chest, where your heart is supposed to be. That hollow sense of capriciousness escapes your rationale and you are hyper aware of your surroundings, just for a second, before it all fades away.
Most of my encounters with death have been brief and passive but the ones that haven’t been, hold a special place in my mind and heart, displaying themselves in absolute synergy in my dreams. I dream of both of you, in a room of cozy beds and the walls lined with books; I picture you taking care of each other like you would have taken care of me.
I find there to be a blaring lack of narratives of those who have experienced loss of their non-human companions. Pets leave their essence in so many parts of our lives and recovering from that loss is quite often more traumatic and difficult than that of a human family member. Acknowledging that pain and vocalising it seems so much harder than it ever has before.
When I first saw you, I said to myself, “I am going to nurture you. You’re going to heal me.” I came across Eren (or as my mum called him, Mew) in the middle of what would’ve been a horrible depressive episode. After a few days, he was at my doorstep, meowing so loudly, demanding for attention. You were the smallest, most precious of my fosters but you commanded a presence in the room like nobody else. Even now, when I close my eyes, I can feel your frail body in my hands and your nascent teeth nibbling on my fingers. Young kittens without their mothers around rarely make it through but somehow you did, for whatever little time that you were alive. I always wondered where your mother was and if you were destined to be nestled in my arms.
I believe with all of my heart that you’re in a better place now. You’re out of your pain and you’re climbing lots of tables and chairs in kitten heaven but I wish, i so selfishly wish, i had more time with you. In your last moments, I saw the pain you were in and I cursed myself for not doing better by you and failing you. Even in your last moments, you were nothing but welcoming of all the aid I was trying to give you; although we both realised that it wasn’t going to work. I don’t think any amount of love I give will ever be comparable to the compassion, affection and trust you showed in me.
We forget to talk about just how compassionate and trusting animals are in us. They never stop showing affection, even when they’re in pain and it’s this glory that they carry with them, through life and death. In my own grief, I cannot justify my selfishness of wanting to care for you, for a few more moments. You lived your life to the fullest and you were such a happy kitten, I only hope that you’re galloping around somewhere in some astral plane and slipping on marble floors.
The pain I felt and still feel is inexplicable but the pain you felt, I shall never know. In those last few hours, when I realised that you’re not going to make it, I witnessed such unabashed kindness from you and the world around me.
I couldn't save you but you saved me; and for that, Mew, I will always be grateful to you.
Animals have this ability of filling the biggest voids in our lives by just unconditionally loving us. It really makes you think, how the human world would’ve been better if it was for this unconditional kindness instilled in each one of us. Sometimes, in moments that break you the most, you find yourself healed of all your wounds. I know, I did. If this is anything but a realisation of my grief, my heart goes out to all those who’ve lost their furry companion. Of all the lessons you can learn from them, learn to be kinder everyday and love as unconditionally and deeply as they have loved you. There is no better way to commemorate their memories than to embody the strength, courage and compassion they possessed.
Wherever you are, I want you to know, I love you. Thank you for letting me care for you. On earth we're briefly gorgeous but you, you will always be purr-fectly gorgeous.