Kasey died unexpectedly this week, on a terrible Tuesday. I was at work, 30 minutes away, and there was no way to get home fast enough to say goodbye; he was gone 10 minutes after letting out a pained yelping whimper. I rushed home anyway to be beside my husband who was coping with the sudden shock of losing a pet in the midst of the chaos of caring for a parent with dementia. Kasey was lying so still in the living room, at peace but clearly no longer present. I stroked his fur and massaged his paws and ears. We struggled through the indignity of hefting him, in a sheet, out to the car, laying him gently in the back of the SUV. I made my way to the vet clinic; it was a brutally hot day but before I signed the papers and set the efficient wheels in motion for cremation, I lingered at the back of the truck as long as I could, whispering my thanks and love to this very good boy who shared 12 wonderful years with us. As I stroked his ears and paws I could already feel the coolness of a body in death. I pulled myself away, signed some forms and watched the techs gently place him on a guerney and wheel him away. He was a very good boy, and he shall not be forgotten.
Anyone who has grown up on a farm knows how peaceful a barn can be when it’s dark and cold outside and the animals inside are resting and shuffling in the hay. This carol, The Friendly Beasts, conjures up that memory for me, and images of a “stable rude.” The carol dates back to the 12th century. Many people have recorded this song, from Peter Paul and Mary to Garth Brooks. The version that I chose is by Sufjan Stevens, from his Songs of Christmas album.
So named because one eye took a long time to open when he was born, Pirate is also affectionately known alternately as Frat Boy or Mike Tyson. He’s a big beefy cat with a tiny little voice, who likes to bite the hands that feed him. A few days after we got him, when still a tiny kitten, he sailed off the upstairs landing and broke his leg. He spent several days at the vet, gnawing off his little cast and getting an extra round of antibiotics. Now that he’s grown up, he’s an excellent lounger, and is entertained for hours by the birds outside. One catbird in particular loves to taunt him at the front window.
Loves cuddling up to shoes. Loves soaking up the sun and casting Batman shadows. Loves perching on a chair arm or windowsill and watching the world pass by. Adores boxes. Loves joining the humans in the bathroom (prefers running water to still). Enjoys heads-butts and cuddling up to his daddy at bedtime.