Tuesday, July 16, 2024
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The Gathering

Mewsette and Jelly Bean in a heart-shaped nap, August 2020.

I am sensing them all around me at this season of the year, all of the cats who have lived with me. And I finally felt my home and yard were ready, and I was grounded enough, to bring Mewsette’s and Jelly Bean’s cremains home.

But life will call with daffodils
And morning glorious blue skies
You’ll think of me some memory
And softly smile to your surprise…*

My friend Carol was here the day before Pet Memorial Sunday to pick up the suncatchers I’d made for that day. I greeted her at the door, wincing at the fact that normally four black cats would be greeting her but none were there when she came in. I mentioned that to her.

“I feel their presence here, I strongly feel Mewsette and Jelly Bean are here,” she assured me as Mr. Sunshine came strolling in from the kitchen and Giuseppe came pit-pat down the steps from the bedroom upstairs.

Here is Carol in the kitchen with all four of them in 2019, their usual greeting for both friends and strangers.

Carol is overjoyed at their attention.
Carol is overjoyed at their attention.

I was a little surprised, and happy. I feel them here, but I am constantly thinking about them and doing my best to seal memories inside myself so they don’t flit away, so naturally they feel like they are present to me. But perhaps they really are here and would be without even my efforts. I thought I had only convinced myself I felt their presences. I only see they are missing at mealtimes and they don’t appear near me when they normally would, like Jelly Bean in the bathroom, and Mewsette when I have potato chips or some other crunchy snack. Otherwise the house seems just as populated as always.

A time for memories

Kublai on the deck waiting for me to head out into the yard, 1994.

I’ve mentioned that this time of year, when summer turns to autumn, the angled light, shorter days and cooler nights, each year reminds me of the September when I lost Kublai, the sweet, bittersweet of the season as the backdrop to his last days and the time around his passing.

But I think I’ve realized something this year. I do remember him deeply and sense him near, but I also sense all the others who have passed into spirit and think of them through each day as we go deeper into September. Now that autumn has arrived it’s especially intense, even a little distracting, and when I look back at things I’ve written, photos I’ve shared, artwork I’ve done in past years, it seems that’s been consistent for years and I never realized it but only accepted it.

The Gathering

I had always thought of the end of October and beginning of November as the time when the veil thins and all our energies mingle, but perhaps it’s the coming of autumn, the time of change from production to harvest, the time to gather what we’ve done and experienced through the year and hold it near to sustain us through the darker months, whether that be food or philosophy.

Mimi on the wicker loveseat.

You may remember that Mewsette was around in the week after she died on June 11. A week later I awoke to no sense of her, but soon after that I began to feel her presence again in the house and around the yard, as did Mimi in visiting her garden chair and the green wicker loveseat.

Since Mr. Sunshine and Giuseppe have been going outdoors with us Mr. Sunshine especially has reacted to Mewsette’s favorite areas of the yard.

two black cats in yard
Mimi and Mr. Sunshine exploring around the wicker loveseat.

As soon as Jelly Bean left the house with Deb I felt no sense of him, but within days he seemed to become part of Giuseppe as I saw Giuseppe from behind at the basement fountain in exactly Jelly Bean’s posture, and Giuseppe used the smallest cardboard wedge scratcher just once soon after we lost him scratching in the same awkward posture Jelly Bean had used, and he’s shown up at the bathroom sink on sunny days several times. More recently when I look at Giuseppe’s face I see Jelly Bean at first, which is interesting because they have quite different faces.

black cat at fountain
Giuseppe at the fountain.

This past week has been quiet, cool with those rustling autumn breezes through the open window that have always made me think of soft voices in a quiet place, like a library, and the cool breezes flowing inside seem animated, like presences in themselves. This past week, especially, I have felt my house full again, and the back yard too, and not only Mewsette and Jelly Bean but Sally and Moses and Stanley and all the others. I feel a sense of peace and calm that I haven’t in quite a while, especially after struggling to get myself grounded again instead of floating through my days feeling lost, fighting a little depression, trying not to let it get big, not just because of the losses of Mewsette and Jelly Bean but all the other changes here while going two months without being able to do most of the work I do. The renovations are a blessing because I can’t imagine grieving as deeply as I did in the house as it was and I love all that was done, but even my daily work has changed, what I do for a living, it’s all been a lot for me to adjust to, good and bad.

Bringing them home

I finally brought Mewsette and Jelly Bean’s cremains home from Chartiers Custom Pet Cremation on Saturday, September 23.

I always ask Deb to take the two full weeks to cremate my cats because I want that space. I need that time to let myself accept their death.

This time I had an added reason—the day after Mewsette died I took Jelly Bean to the veterinarian on a prescheduled visit and discovered he was in pretty bad shape, which I knew but it had escalated quickly leading up to that appointment. I knew I’d be working hard to help Jelly Bean.

Then, by the time the two weeks came around after Mewsette’s passing I was in full rip-my-house-apart mode and I felt I had no safe place to put her cremains anywhere in my house. And Memorial Kitty in the back yard was all overgrown and I was stashing things out in the yard too, then once renovations started things went flying all over the yard so adding her cremains to the others’ under Memorial Kitty wasn’t an option either. Then we lost Jelly Bean.

We had a break between the kitchen work and beginning on the bathroom, but I was deeply grieving my two losses, my house felt strange and was very much out of order with things moved around and stacked everywhere, the rest of the household seemed lost, and I knew we had the most difficult work coming up in replacing the bathroom. I couldn’t get any of my work done in any room and felt lost myself. I decided to just wait until renovations were done and I felt more grounded, which really wasn’t until now.

But with what I’ve been sensing around here, this time seems completely appropriate. We had some rain this afternoon so I did not add them to the soil under Memorial Kitty, tomorrow I have the last farmers market, and I want to wait for an afternoon if I can, preferably a sunny afternoon, so I will take their cremains outside some day next week. I’m sure they’ll let me know when they are ready.

*Lyrics from the song “When I’m Gone” written by Sandra Emory Lawrence and recorded by Joey and Rory Feek. Back when I was concerned about Mimi I was not only working on anticipatory grief with images, I was also finding songs about loss. I discovered this song with a link in an article, and I actually find it very soft and comforting, and honest.

~~~

I have been recording my thoughts and experiences through all this, and I’ll be sharing those in the next few articles. I had intended to write more and make up some images with text I had written, but the renovations really broke up my schedule. Once this last farmers market is finished I don’t plan any more vendor events unless they are simple one-day indoor events. I have much planned, and working on the rest of my grief with creative activities is essential.


Read more articles and Pet Loss and other Essays on The Creative Cat.


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AfterDinnerNap-Etsy~~~

Feline Artwork from Portraits of Animals

pastel sketch of black cat
“Beans”, pastel on pastello paper, 10″ x 6″ © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

The original inspiration was Bean’s toes, his little toe beans, oddly enough the clearest thing in the scene, matched with the subtleties of the light on his fur. Click here to read more.



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All images and text used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission, although links to your site are more than welcome and are shared. Please ask if you are interested in using and image or story in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of an image or a product including it, check my animal and nature website Portraits of Animals 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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Bernadette

From health and welfare to rescue and adoption stories, advocacy and art, factual articles and fictional stories, "The Creative Cat" offers both visual and verbal education and entertainment about cats for people who love cats, pets and animals of all species.

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