Bowtie came into my life in July 2010 and has now left it on October 30, 2012. He embodied “animal as teacher” with his overflowing affection and love during the 2 years and three months that our lives were intertwined.
I have never had a cat who was so friendly, social and vocal. He loved to sleep on my lap, have his belly, chin and ears rubbed and quite often would sleep alongside me with his head resting on the same pillow as mine.
Having come into my life as an outdoor cat, spending time outdoors seemed to be his nectar and raison d’etre. Being nocturnal, he liked to go out when I got home from work and then most mornings would wake me up to go outside for a little while at around 5 am. Ever so sadly, this morning going outside at that time when it is completely dark at this time of year until 7 am meant that he was attacked and killed by a coyote right across the street from my house in a residential and not rural neighborhood. Animal control came and said that it was definitely a coyote and that they run the area between Kent Field a mile to my east and the golf course that is alongside a bike path a mile to my west.
I am truly heartbroken to lose him and know that all the people who say you should never let your animal outside will say I told you so but having lived outdoors before “adopting” me, I found it impossible to keep him inside. That being the case, his life lasted about 7 years – what I think is the precise average for a pet cat who isn’t kept inside the house.
Geneen Roth wrote a beautiful and funny book about a cat that adopted her called “The Craggy Hole in My Heart and the Cat Who Fixed It: Over the Edge and Back with My Dad, My Cat, and Me” and in it is a beautiful eulogy for her cat which I will look for and append to this post when I stop crying long enough to find it. Ah, I am still crying but down below is the eulogy.
Rest in Peace Bowtie – I will love you forever. And I will treasure the lessons I learned from you, including the importance of living in the now and sharing kindness and love daily without fail until the chance to share is no more. For that at least, I have no regrets.
Here is the eulogy:
“You cannot see me splayed in the sunroom looking as if I am surfing on a wave of light, you cannot see me lapping up the dripping water in the bathtub, curled on the couch in the TV room, or snoring in the laundry basket. This deceives you into believing that I am not here. But you are only looking with your physical eyes. Look again. Look with the eyes beneath your eyes. The quivering light beneath what you call your life. As you are beginning to discover, it is what you can see with those eyes, that is most compelling. It’s time to begin living the shimmering, glimmering, sunlit life you gave me, but haven’t let yourself fully inhabit.
Everybody knows I had a better life and death than most people on the planet. Between the acupuncturists and the psychics, being hand-fed and carried everywhere, having mice heads to eat, dogs to chase, fences to jump, and corn on the cob to nibble on, there was nothing the physical world didn’t offer for my pleasure. And who wouldn’t want a death like mine? Carried around in a cashmere snuggly, touched sweetly, until my last breath with a Zen priest and a pearly Godmother chanting softly beside me.
All that was good, but the pleasures of the physical world; jeweled collars and sparkly necklaces, downy blankets and soft salmon flakes, were not the real treasure, it was the love. It was always the love. It was the fact that you delighted every time you saw me. Every time, for seventeen and a half years, I knew just by walking into a room, your heart would fling out streamers of joy. So I kept walking, so that your heart could keep flinging. And I kept putting my paws on your face, so that your body could keep relaxing. And I kept purring, so you would know there was safety in this world. But it wasn’t me, any more than it was the jeweled collars, it was you. It was always you.
You used to mistake the symbol of the treasure, for the treasure. The marker for the thing itself. The gift from God, for God. As if all you could possibly hope for, was a thing you could touch, a token, rather than all of shining existence. Since you hadn’t let yourself know that shimmering fully, you kept turning to what reminded you of it, glitter and bobbles and sparkles. As if having those was having the real thing. As if that was the best you could do.
It was time for me to go. I told you I would stay until you were strong enough to live without me. And I did. And you are. Until your heart spread like dragonfly wings, until you didn’t need me to know that you had a heart. As long as I was in a physical body, you relied on me. You believed I was the locus of that love. Now you can find out for yourself what is true.
Do not grieve for me, I am in a place where tuna fish juice flows like water, where I can jump like the wind, and every place is silky and sunny. If you must, grieve for what you won’t allow yourself to have, grieve for all the ways you separate yourself from this radiance, from lying down in the sun, on a patch of grass, on any old day, and from knowing you are beloved on this Earth.
Thank you, it’s been my pleasure to be with you, may you know you are beloved on the Earth. ”
-Geneen Roth, “The Craggy Hole in My Heart and the Cat Who Fixed It: Over the Edge and Back with My Dad, My Cat, and Me”