Yesterday my beloved little cat, Mme Pouqui, died peacefully in my arms. It was indicative of her beautiful nature that she purred until her last breath, her eyes on mine, and slowly drifted away, leaving me alone with the hollowness of grief.
I have worked with death and dying for many years in a professional capacity and it is time to put to use the advice I have so frequently offered to others: to pace myself, allow time and space for solitary grieving, to enjoy and embrace life while still honouring the pain of loss.
The rain having cleared early this morning, I walked for an hour and thought about what I would like to share with you about the beautiful being who shared my life for the past fourteen years. I smiled as I recalled her fondness for climbing onto the edge of the bath as I lay, wallowing; to step gingerly onto my chest and curl herself into a ball, watching the water while her tail floated on the surface.
I thought of how she loved the music I composed. If I was writing an upbeat composition, she would dance, galloping around the house in a display of sheer exuberance. If the music was slow and sweet, she would climb onto the desk and rest her chin on the recording mixer, a dreamy expression in her eyes.
When I was ill, she would hold my hand with her paw, comforting me, never leaving my side.
She was talkative and we enjoyed our morning call-and-response greeting, miaowing to one another as she waited for her breakfast.
In latter days, as her heath began to fail, she abandoned many of these small pleasures but loved her walks in the grounds of our village, pausing to smell the lavender, investigate the holes where the bandicoots had excavated the lawn, and greet the other residents.
She would tire easily and, as time progressed, I carried her much of the way, while she purred with contentment. She would lie for hours on the wicker chair or lounging in the little patch of garden outside my front door, delighting in the sunshine and the soft earth.
And so today I grieve. The house is empty and silent and my heart is aching.
Yet there has also been joy in the form of serendipity. My usual walk takes me to the entrance to the national park, where I customarily turn to walk back home. I stopped to check the culvert for frogs, whereupon I spied a male Superb Fairy Wren – a species we rarely see these days. Hoping to take a photograph, I scrabbled in my pocket for my phone and he flew away.
These little birds are quite territorial so I realised he would not have ventured very far. I walked a few steps further and, to my joy, he alighted on a post and fixed me with his bright shoe-button eye, flirting his tail back and forth in a charming display.
I felt my heart lift at his exuberance, his sheer joie-de-vivre a joyful affirmation that life is always in the process of becoming. We are all part of the natural world with its rhythm of life and death. We dance for a while in the sunshine and then retreat into the shadows.
My little Pouqui danced into my life and captured my heart with her gentle, loving nature and engaging mannerisms. Her dance has ended but, as the saying goes “a little bird told me” that she is at peace and there is still much living to be done. I am more grateful than I can express, for the privilege of having shared these precious years with such a beautiful soul, and for the message of love and hope I received on this Spring morning when the sun began to shine after the rain.