Who could look at those eyes and not see the love? I always felt so honored.
Namir was an inspiration for many creative things for me. His loss was my final motivation for creating the sympathy cards designed especially for the loss of a pet. But when I designed that first set of 12 cards, Namir wasn’t part of it. I think in fresh grief I focused on other cats, though if I’d found the right photo I would have been so happy. If I had found this photo, I would have been over the moon.
I call this expression of Namir’s his “bedroom eyes”, that “come-hither look” that invites, well, in the case of cats, cuddles and pets and purrs, but most often it just means “I really love you”. I tried for years to get a photo of this expression in Namir, one that captured not only his face but a setting that I associated with him. But it’s really hard to focus down onto a pet’s face and get a good photo that isn’t somehow distorted in a way that I didn’t want in this memory, and wanting to use my DSLR for the best photo quality possible I practically had to stand on my toes to get the focal distance for my lens to capture his face and not his back or the ground around him.
I took this photo May 22, 2009, when I knew Namir was failing, and when it was also spring and prime gardening time and he and I and Cookie were spending as much time as possible together out there, and I was taking more photos than I even had time to look at. When he passed, I desperately wanted a photo of those eyes but there were so many to look through and so little time. I found many others, but not this one.
When Cookie passed in February 2012 and the year wore on into spring I was crowded by memories of her and sorted through all those photos again, and there it was, after the clematis vine in full bloom, the pea vines we’d planted in April, the daisies and fleabane, just a few photos of Cookie in the garden and the patio, a photo of Namir on the steps to the deck, and the last one of the day, this photo. One before it was a little blurry.
And how much more perfect could it be? Out in the back yard, the warm morning sunlight on Namir’s fur, enhancing his green eyes and the pink of his nose and mouth and ears, all just as I’d remembered. Best of all, our favorite time, out in the yard, the green of spring behind him and just a few vivid forget-me-nots, of all the flowers to be there. Once I found it I remembered that morning and taking those photos, standing in one of the rows between tomato seedlings when he’d walked between them all from the brick path to me, stood and looked up at me, then sat down and looked at me more fully. It was important I notice him and share this moment. If I only had one chance to get this photo, I couldn’t have asked for a better one, nor been given a better one.
I guess I found it when I was ready.
And I really do always remember the way he looked at me. I could embellish the language and make it into something more profound, but at a time like this, the simplest, most honest words are the best. I got choked up when I thought of it among all the other possibilities, that’s how I always know it’s the right one, at least for me. Like many of the phrases I choose for my sympathy cards, this one can work either way, as something you would say to your cat, or he might say to you because, of course, he would see the love in your eyes as well.
I truly believe in the old-fashioned method of sending cards in the mail for certain reasons, and sympathy is one of them. The privacy of receipt, the grieving recipient finding an unexpected greeting in the mailbox, opening it up when they are ready and reading the greeting and your words, an intangible embrace when one is needed, a tangible message they can keep until they are ready to let it go. It’s always been comforting to me, and I still have many of mine.
I also think it should look special when it arrives, but not with something that announces grief and sympathy. A simple colored envelope will do, and I offer colored envelopes with most of my sympathy cards. In this case, in addition to standard white, you have the choice of a baby blue card to coordinate with the text and forget-me-nots, and I may add another more vibrant shade of blue as well.
You can find this card in my Etsy shop.
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About my sympathy cards
As an artist I turn my emotions into creative output. Thus it is with the grief I’ve felt at the losses of my cats through the years. After receiving many sympathy cards I realized that not too many are focused on the loss of an animal companion, and I vowed to create a line of sympathy cards drawn on my own experiences that would feature photos and paintings of my cats and others’ animal companions as well as artwork and photos not focused on any species.
It wasn’t until after I’d lost Namir in July 2009 that I was suddenly moved to start designing, and when the task was done I had a dozen different sympathy cards. Each of the cats depicted was or is one of mine and the dog, Tika, I came to know through a friend and her animal memorial project.
Since then I’ve designed four new cards, for Lakota and Emeraude, and for Kennedy and now for Namir. I’ve also found that other cards outside this series are also used for sympathy cards, and as I mentioned above these sympathy cards are used for other greeting purposes. I’m so pleased to serve six veterinary hospitals around the country, four of them cat-specific, with wholesale orders of my sympathy cards. It also brings me joy to know the cats I loved are still out there doing their magic on others.
You can also find the original set of a dozen sympathy cards in my Etsy shop. With the additional cards I’m going to organize different sets and take the time to list them each individually.
Namir on my drafting table when my studio was downstairs.
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This post is shared on Inspire Me Monday on Create With Joy
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All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.
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Weekly schedule of features:
Sunday: Essays, Pet Loss, Poetry, The Artist’s Life
Monday: Adoptable Cats, TNR & Shelters
Tuesday: Rescue Stories
Wednesday: Commissioned Portrait or Featured Artwork
Thursday: New Merchandise
Friday: Book Review, Health and Welfare, Advocacy
Saturday: Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat, Living Green With Pets, Creating With Cats
And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun!