I believe it is the mantra playing in your head that defines the reality of your life, and of late I have had a new one: Time is passing too quickly. It is an awareness that in recent months has made its way to full-blown obsession.
I hate it.
May I say that? May I tell you about the powerlessness I feel? Can I trust you with a vulnerability now exposed by this invisible ticking clock?
I know the answer is to change the mantra, to understand and accept that the current moment is all there is, all there has ever been. And still there are constant notices hurling toward me, reminders that I stand on the precipice of a new phase in my life, a scary future I neither recognize nor know how to navigate.
We are doing the best we can, my brothers and I, in the face of the complicated challenges presented by parents with bodies and minds in their 80s. (Even as I write that sentence I think of the childhood we had, filled with station wagon vacations and high school sports and the six of us around the dinner table.) It was just yesterday, I swear.
And my own sweet daughter, soon off to her sophomore year in college. Nineteen years later I am still coming to terms with the fact I am the mother of an infant, and here she is nearly a grown woman.
My own reflection in the mirror.
And now my love, Tiger, the tiny kitten we brought home from Vacation Bible School when Eliza was five, grown old and (in all likelihood) gone off to find a quiet place to breathe his last breath. Just Wednesday night, as he was showing some all too real signs the end might be near, I sat with him on the front porch and rubbed his head just before he stood up and walked away from me.
My dear friend, Colleen, kept watch while I traveled back to my hometown for a funeral. (Those mountains wrapped their big arms around me in a way that comforted my uneasy soul.) He appeared for a quick moment Friday when she saw him cross the back yard, that cat, emerging from some underbrush in our neighbor’s yard. But then he was gone again.
We have done everything we can think of to lure him home so that we might get him whatever he needs—a new medication to regulate that tricky thyroid, or the replacement of catfood with the boiled shrimp he loves. We filled the bird feeders. (He loves to sit just under them, that scoundrel.) We sit quietly in the backyard, hoping he’ll come sauntering around the corner, nonchalantly parking himself a respectable distance from us, there below the creeping fig. We take walks around the yard, through the neighborhood. We check the front door, the back door, the front door again.
It has become our vigil.
I decided as I lay in bed last night that this morning would provide an answer. Perhaps the sun would rise and I would shuffle to the side porch door to find him there waiting for me. As on a thousand days before, he would meowmeowmeow his way inside, expressing his displeasure that it took me so long to get out of bed to feed him. And I would say to him as he breezed past me without the slightest acknowledgement, Well hello there Tiger. Good morning. It’s so nice to see you.
I would accept that time had come and taken him.
There was no Tiger on the porch this morning. But there were, I swear, two tiny wet spots exactly like those we found in his trail those last days before he disappeared, signs that I knew then were indications he couldn’t control his body or destiny any more than I can, signs I now interpret as hope.
And so I will believe for another day, waiting and watching for that old cat to reappear. Knowing full well that time ticks on, understanding in my soul this is all part of it, the greater plan, God’s plan.
Praying for acceptance. Hoping for a miracle, nonetheless.
dear friends: thank you for the love and wishes you have sent my way the past couple of days. we found sweet tiger last night, underneath a large bush not far from the side door. i replay it over and over in my mind, of course, wondering how i could have missed him, wondering if things might have been different had i gotten to him. i guess the answer is no, but i sure hope he knows how hard i tried.
immeasurable thanks to my dear friends colleen, jay, bruce, teresa, stephanie, julian.
we will miss you tiger tig.
There is nothing you could have done to change things, nor, in my opinion, was there anything Tiger would have wanted you to do differently. If he’d wanted to come inside and be with people when he passed, he would have given you some indication. I think he wanted to die with dignity and no fuss. It’s probably BECAUSE he had a loving family and not despite it.
Remembering Tiger will help you remember how to live in and lengthen the moment — even though the spinning of the world sped up somehow. Now is all there is ….
Thank you, Traci. What wonderful advice. I plan to park for a while on that thought of “lengthening the moment.” I have never considered it, and I think there is much there for me to ponder. Thank you.
Cathy Dear Cathy…Not that this is about me..I did want to share my story with you after reading about Tiger
I lost my 19 year old orange male cat named Edgar just three weeks ago. I made his choice for him after talking and talking and talking to him about his final days and how would he like to go. I talked to him about the Rainbow bridge and all the other animals he knew that would be there…about the relaxing shot he would get, about how he had been a good cat partner for 19 years and how he would do it for me!!
The morning I was preparing him to go to the vet was a beautiful Maine morning. I thought to myself “Edgar loves the sunshine and being outside so I will put him in the yard until the very last moment…he could enjoy the sunshine” It became time to go, never thinking that he could or would walk away…he did. The next hour was spent looking all around the neighborhood for him. How could he have walked away when he was so weak he couldn’t eat or drink or even move from the rug he slept on last night? I sat quietly for awhile on my steps, reflecting on the guilt I felt for having made this decision for him, the pain I felt for him being missing and the wonder of all the “what ifs”..what if I never moved him from Virginia, what if I didn’t let him enjoy the sunshine this morning, what if I could have done all the things that seem so invasive(at 19 years old) to have him live a bit longer, what if…what if… what if…
Then I chuckled to myself at the Mantra folks in Maine say…”In Maine, wait 15 minutes and everything will be different, the weather, how you feel, the traffic, the seas” So I waited…Then it became cloudy…then it begin to rain…I was so upset…How could it be that this beautiful morning has turned into This? Then..just like the sunshine that peaked between the rain, it came to me…the very first day Edgar was here, he went under the pine trees into the neighbor’s yard. I followed the path he took that very first day and found him under a car two blocks away. At the sound of my voice he was trying to get out from under the car but he was too weak. I rolled under the car and gathered him up…all the while thinking….just to put him to sleep. The rain stopped, the sun came out, I was at the vet and everything had changed…for the first time in my life, I have no pets…15 more minutes in Maine….
Your beautiful story is a gift to me. Thank you for taking the time to share it and for reminding me how important it is to love and to trust. I will always remember the 15 minutes in Maine philosophy. Good one to live by. Love you, my friend. Hoping hoping hoping Tiger and Edgar are together catching squirrels right this very moment.
I don’t know you but you did a great favor for my daughter Erinn. I had some great friends and neighbors who lost their dog for most of the night. They called us at 8pm to help them look for her (we loved her also) and we helped them look for her for at least 4 hours by flashlight. We finally found her in a ditch but still alive. She lived another 2 years. We know how much a pet can be a major part of the family and I hope you are doing well with the thought that she was very much loved by you@ Sincerely, Jane Byrd
Thank you, Jane. I love the thought of you out there with flashlights, and I especially love that you found that sweet puppy. What a joyful ending to the story! We are doing okay ~ missing Tiger like crazy but beginning to accept that he knew best. I thank you for reminding me that he did know he was loved, and that’s what matters the most.
Oh Cathy, I am so sorry for the loss of your Tiger. Time DOES seem to be speeding up, doesn’t it? I suppose all we can do is live in the moment… Sending love to you.
Thank you, Melissa. It is a powerful reminder to make the most of every moment. I have made myself a promise to try to remember that, even on the icky days. Thank you, thank you.
Cathy- I am teary at my desk as I read this, for you and your sweet Tiger, as well as in remembrance of my sweet Fat Albert who passed on last summer. He, too, was a cat that even dog-lovers loved. Here’s to hoping they are hangin’ in heaven. XO
I can’t believe your cat was named Fat Albert. When we got Tiger, I wanted to name him Prince Albert. Little 5-year-old Eliza would have none of it, so Tiger he became. That name linkage must mean they are up there together. That makes me smile.
I’m so sorry. Pets’ lifespans are too short. He died in a peaceful place close to home and the people he loved. With animal wisdom, he chose the place he wanted, and spared you the agony of having to play God at the vet’s. He will greet you in heaven.
You know, I have thought about him in heaven chasing (and once again catching!) squirrels. I hadn’t thought about him greeting me. Thank you for a lovely, comforting new perspective.
Writing through my tears. I’m so very sorry. Blessings, Cathy
Thank you so much. I didn’t mean for it to be so sad when I started this post ~ and I am so grateful to everyone for all the love and prayers!
Cathy, I’m so sorry. Too much coming at you at one time. Sending healing thoughts to you, Eliza and Tim. Love, Vickie.
Thanks Vick. We are doing okay. All the healing thoughts are definitely helping.
Thinking of you Cathy. Much love to you, Eliza and Tim.
Thank you, Trish. It has been a difficult time, but I am so glad I got to spend time with you, Sutton and Karli. Love to you.
Thank you, Lisa. Thank you so very much.
Utterly and undeniably beautiful tribute to the passage of all that is dear to us. Thank you.
Oh, Cathy! My heart is heavy for you. Praying he comes back to you! It’s a blessing that you’ve shared each other’s lives. xo
Thank you, Cheryl. A tough few days, and I am so grateful for the love and prayers.
I am so sorry, Cathy! I know the pain of losing a dear furry “child” several times over. Praying for you in the days to come. I don’t know how to load a picture here, so check your e-mail for another message.
Blessings & love to you!
Come home, Tiger, come home. Thinking of you with love, my heavy-hearted friend. Right there with you on the journey. xo
Thank you, my friend.