Tuesday Open Thread ~ Mon Petit Pierre


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”And when great souls die, after a period peace blooms, slowly and always irregularly. Spaces fill with a kind of soothing electric vibration. Our senses, restored, never to be the same, whisper to us. They existed. They existed. We can be. Be and be better.
For they existed.”
~
Maya Angelou
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Remembering or Forgetting ~ I'm Not Sure Which is Worse

Whoever said that loss gets easier with time was a liar. Truth is, you end up missing them in a different way. Life may go on and you may think about other things, but inevitably, something will remind you of them and the grief comes rushing back, along with a feeling of guilt that you forgot to miss them for a little while. In either case, you're still grieving. Elizabeth Kubler Ross describes the feeling best when she says that we will grieve forever. That we do not just 'get over' our loss, we will simply learn to live with it. That yes, we will heal and rebuild our life around that loss, but a part of us will never be the same. Nor would we want to be. There are people, I imagine, who don't think this applies to grieving the loss of an animal. But they’d be wrong. And I suppose those same people might not think an animal has the power to leave their mark on us in a very significant way. But they'd be wrong about that too.

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“A kitten is, in the animal world, what a rosebud is in the garden.”
~ Robert Sowthey
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A Promise to Pierre

The question was always the same. Why did I name my female cat Pierre? The simple answer is I thought she was male at the time. Where things got interesting was in the details. Such as naming Pierre after a young French guy I was dating who came out of the closet about the same time mon chat did. Seriously. Just as flirty French guy told me he was gay, Pierre went into heat. The latter being more of a surprise then the former.

"You're going to have to change her name now" my Sister said.

"Why?" I asked.

"Because she's female."

A fair point perhaps, but in the end, I decided to keep her name as it was. She had been called Pierre for almost a year, why confuse things now? Besides there was something about her that had already defied expectations, I figured the two of us could defy convention and say to the rest of the world we were doing this our own way.

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I never knew for certain, but I suspected Pierre was born near a construction site where she spent the first six weeks of her life. Abandoned but determined, she found refuge where she could. Lucky for her, one of those places was Nick Papadapoulous' flower shop. Owner and neighborhood cat whisperer, Nick's store functioned as a rescue mission for New York City's hungry strays. Word must've got around in the feline community because anytime I did stop inside Nick's store there was always another new cat curled up behind one of the planters, secretly hidden from view taking their afternoon catnap. Some of them merely visited, while others stayed on a more permanent basis, but either way, if they hung around long enough, they were bequeathed Shakespearean names.

Greeting me that morning with a toothy grin and an offer of one of his wife's homemade muffins, Nick was his usual chatty self. It was September and the both of us were tennis fans, so we talked about the US Open as if the both of us had all the time in the world. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a tiny kitten jumped onto the counter where Nick had his breakfast and hungrily attacked a piece of his bacon.

"No! No! No!" Nick yelled as he scooped Pierre up off the table. "That's human food", he said. "You have your own food."

Setting her down in front of a big bowl of kibbles, he then turned to me shaking his head.

“That’s the second bowl he's eaten this morning.”

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Apparently Pierre had been yowling so loudly for food outside of Nick's store, he thought it was a baby crying. Listening to Nick's story, I gently picked up the feather-light kitten to take a closer look. She was a fluffy white and gray tabby, severely underweight, whose fur was speckled with white paint. When I peeked at her backside, I noticed her anus was bleeding from god knows what she had been eating.

"This kitten needs to see a vet,” I told him.

“You wanna take him?” He asked.

The abruptness of his question took me aback and I shook my head explaining that I was on my way to work. In what was a futile attempt to escape what was coming, I tried placing her back on the ground when she latched on to me and began climbing up my pant leg, shaking and struggling all the way up.

"I think he likes you!" Nick said laughing.

I gingerly pried Pierre off of my clothing and settled her onto my shoulder where she immediately found my ear and decided to start nursing by sucking on my earlobe. Now both Nick and I were laughing! Looking back, it was clear she’d already won my heart, but at the time, taking in a sick kitten felt like a daunting undertaking. Calculating my options, I decided I could get her medical attention, foster her until she was well, and then find her a good home. So, in a snap decision that would change both our lives, I walked out of Nick’s store with a tiny kitten in my arms and a plan. A plan that went right out the window that very first night when Pierre quietly communicated everything she had been through with a look in her eyes.

~
I am packing for a short trip to New York to discuss the cat book with Brion. In the front room where the kittens are kept, Calico Jane is nursing one black kitten. I pick up my Tourister. It seems heavy. I look inside and there are her other four kittens.

"Take care of my babies. Take them with you wherever you go.”
~
William S. Burroughs, The Cat Inside

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Soft Paws and Purred Applause

Few things are as endearing and hilarious to watch as a small kitten doing what small kittens do. Darting from one end of the room to another, pouncing on anything that moves, it’s like enjoying an all day comedy show being played out by a furry version of Buster Keaton. Yet, when I brought Pierre home, she was none of those things. Lethargic and weak, she spent most of her time nuzzled up close to me, purring and sleeping. At six weeks old, she should've weighed well over twenty-two ounces, but when put on the scale she barely registered at fourteen. Skin and bones, full of ear mites, fleas, and worms, when I took her to the vet they had to give her a bath and then snip out all of the white paint stuck to her fur. Disheveled and forlorn looking, she was sent home with medicine, a high protein kitten food, and supplemental vitamins which I added to baby food. While the vet didn’t suggest bottle feeding her, my maternal instincts kicked in overtime and I’d wrap her up in a towel, place her on my lap and she’d just keep drinking as if her life depended on it. At night she’d crawl up the side of my bed, make her way towards me, curl up around my neck, take my earlobe in her mouth and suckle her self to sleep. It was both very strange and very poignant. She was so light I barely felt her weight, in fact, if it wasn’t for the confluences of breathing, purring, and sucking noises in my ear, I would’ve barely noticed she was there.

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I knew we were finally out of the woods when I found the contents of one of my drawers all over the floor and Pierre dashing through the house with one of those curly-cue ribbons in her mouth bouncing up and down like a little Pom Pom. Her mischievous streak on full display along with her delight filled me with such joy that the memory of that moment still has the power to move me. Soon after her remarkable recovery, I realized that Pierre was very clever with verbal cues. If I asked her “where’s your teddy bear?” she would stand by her bed and wait for me to toss over her favorite toy. Same thing applied to a peek-a-boo game we liked to play where I’d sit on the couch with a blanket over my head and ask “Where’s Pierre?” and she would start sneaking up to me in slow stalking movements until she got close enough to touch me. Then I’d rip the blanket off and say “There she is!” and Pierre would run and hide behind the corner, where we’d start the game all over again.

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Whether it was the tone of my voice, or a musical melody, Pierre was very sensitive to sound. When I chanted in the mornings, she would always sit with me, either in my lap, or next to me making “biscuits” in the air with her paws. When I’d pause, she’d give a little meow to get me going again. Her musical preferences seemed to gravitate towards anything that had that big band sound, which curiously enough, I discovered while Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers were dancing in the movie “Top Hat”. Sunday mornings I’d turn on a little Frank Sinatra and Pierre would get all excited and sprint around the room like she was doing the jitterbug. Sometimes I’d put her on my shoulder and we’d sway to the music while I sang along. Other times, I'd play Glenn Miller or Count Basie and swing one of her cat toys in the air and watch her leap up trying to catch it. Like a flying acrobat, she put so much enthusiasm into it, the height this small animal could get made me laugh so hard, it would only encourage her to jump even higher.

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The days passed into weeks, and the weeks passed into months, and Pierre was growing up quickly. Long-haired and silky, she had outgrown her awkward long legs and small body stage and was now quite beautiful. With Winter setting in and my work hours growing longer, I decided to get Pierre a playmate to keep her company. Enter Zoe. An eight week old kitten without a Mother who was being fostered by a family of nudists from Queens.

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“Where you used to be, there is a hole in the world, which I find myself constantly walking around in the daytime, and falling in at night. I miss you like hell.”
~
Edna St. Vincent Millay
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Zoe Makes Three

At first, I wasn’t sure if the loud chirping noises coming out of Zoe when Pierre chased her around the room were sounds of distress, or just Zoe being, well, Zoe. It was clear from the beginning that Pierre was thrilled with her new playmate. Her eyes growing big whenever Zoe initiated interest. The dynamics between the two of them was established early on. Zoe ate Pierre’s food, stole her toys, and demanded all the attention in the room. Watching Zoe get into things soon became a pastime for both Pierre and myself. Rambunctious and curious, Zoe climbed up book shelves, shower curtains and Christmas trees. But when the shower curtain rod fell, and when the Christmas tree tipped over, it was Pierre who ran under the bed as if she had done something wrong.

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At night, I would lie in bed listening to them crash around in the apartment chasing each other. Thinking that maybe I should play with them more during the day to tire them out, I went out and bought what I thought would be the most entertaining cat toys the store had. The one they actually preferred? A simple golf sized red rubber ball that I would toss around the apartment while Pierre and Zoe would zip around the room trying to catch it. One day, Pierre took the ball in her mouth, carried it into the bathroom and began whacking it around the bathtub. Zoe running after her, quickly joined in and the game now became a feline version of air hockey where the both of them took their turns chasing a roller derby ball inside a bathtub. Delightfully entertaining to watch, I’d be the goalie, catching the ball when it careened out of bounds, and put it back into play. This became their favorite game, and as it turned out, we would all sleep well after that.

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Living with two cats inside a New York City apartment requires some concessions. Namely letting go of growing things. At the mercy of the small taloned creature living in my home, when Pierre was very small, I’d catch her hanging by her claws on a large ficus tree I had by the window. By the time Zoe arrived, there were bite marks and chewed off leaves on all the houseplants around the apartment. This fascination with destroying anything botanical also extended to cut flowers, which were efficiently decapitated, leaving only the stems left standing in the vase. Sympathetic to their natural instincts, I tried introducing them to things that would keep them stimulated. When I attended formal fundraisers for the work I did, I would bring home the elaborate floral centerpieces that were up for grabs at the end of the evening. So, while fellow colleagues brought these centerpieces home to decorate their tables, I took them home so I could watch my cats go crazy. Their eyes wide as ping-pong balls the moment I walked into the apartment, as soon as I put this curious new plaything down on the floor, they couldn’t wait to inspect it, smell it, roll around in it, and eventually destroy it.

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Because city cats experience the world around them from the confines of a window sill, when I finally decided to move to California, I wasn't sure how Pierre and Zoe were going to adjust. Taken from the only home either of them knew and placed in their kitty carriers on a plane for seven hours, they were so freaked out, I had to give them sedatives. Huddled together inside a cabinet my Sister had arranged for them in the back house where I was temporarily staying, all I could do was re-assure them. Even with the familiar smells of the blanket I'd brought from New York, hoping it would make them feel safe, they wouldn’t come out that first day. When they did make their way out of their hiding place, they transitioned themselves under the bed where they stayed for the first month, coming out at nights to sleep with me on the bed. Then one gorgeous sunny day, while I was working at my desk, I turned around and the both of them had come out from underneath the bed, stretched themselves out on the couch, the sunlight bathing their bodies, as if to say all was okay. We were in California now and things weren’t bad. In fact, they were pretty good.

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“Look out there, my little princess,” he called down to her. “These plants are only the very tip of the earth’s treasures, almost like hairs on her head. She hides so many other secrets deep within her, and one day, if you’re lucky, you may find some of them.”
~
Craig Froman, Of Secrets, Spiders & and the End of the World
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A Place Where Lovely Things Grow

Although they didn't know it yet, Pierre and Zoe were going to enjoy their new home. Situated on a piece of property that used to be a citrus orchard, we were surrounded by trees, shrubs, and a botanical collection of plants and flowers. The first few months, they both seemed content watching the birds and visiting squirrels from their perch by the window, but once Pierre figured out how to work the screen door, there was no putting that genie back in the bottle. She simply thrived being outside on her own. For a cat who had never seen anything but the inside of a New York City apartment, she adapted remarkably well. Climbing trees, jumping fences, and marking her territory on the neighbor's doors, it was almost as if Pierre had become an entirely different cat.

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My pride for Pierre's plucky independence was also tempered by my concern for her safety. Living in the foothills we had a lot of critters. Coyotes being my main concern. Each morning when I let Pierre out the door, I was never sure when she was coming back. Sometimes I'd see her strolling up the drive-way before I had to leave for work. Sometimes I wouldn't. On those occasions, I’d text my neighbor to let her know, and when she heard Pierre bang on our screen door, she would come over and let Pierre in. On the days when Pierre didn't bang on the screen door, the sight of her waiting for me in the driveway when I came home filled me with relief and joy.

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As Pierre made her mark on the neighborhood, it seemed she had managed to endear herself with some of my neighbors. A topic of conversation at informal gatherings, I would hear stories about Pierre’s visits to their houses. Whether it was drinking from their bird baths, stretching out on their outdoor furniture, taking naps in their cat's kitty condo, or lounging in the garden next to their sleeping cat statues, Pierre seemed quite comfortable making herself at home wherever she went. Sweet tempered as Pierre was with me inside the house, she definitely had a more spirited personality as soon as she went outside, particularly with the neighborhood cats. This I learned when a neighbor told me how Pierre liked to roll around in front of her window while her three cats watched from inside, tapping on the glass with her paws, either taunting my neighbor’s cats, or just saying hello. We never knew which.

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Unlike Zoe and Ziggy, who stayed close to home, Pierre‘s adventures brought her in contact with other cats in the neighborhood. Being the territorial creatures they are, a few of them didn’t care too much for Pierre’s roaming spirit and let her know it. Usually without inflicting harm. Except once when Pierre came home bleeding and had to go to the emergency room and get stitches. Afterwards she was grounded for two weeks, but every morning she’d stand by the door with the plastic collar around her neck, and a wounded paw, meowing to get out. Once healed, she darted out the door so quickly all I saw was a furry gray tail rounding the corner of the driveway. Lesson learned for Pierre, along with a rite of passage, she now knew where she was in the pecking order among the feral cats who ruled the backyards of our neighborhood and never got into another fight.

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When the rains finally came to Southern California after a long drought they were so mild, I could leave the door open and listen to the sound while I sat at my desk writing. Zoe and Ziggy would sit by the door and watch while Pierre meowed to go out. You’re not going to like it, I told her. She didn’t believe me and kept meowing. Finally relenting, I opened the screen door and watched her saunter out, her coat covered in droplets, I was sure she’d come right back inside. She didn’t. Instead she wandered around the neighborhood in the rain. I have some theories about why she loved the rain, but the most likely one is she just enjoyed listening to it. Frequently, I’d see her sitting on my neighbor’s back porch, under the overhang, watching and listening to the raindrops fall down around her as if she was memorizing every sound so she could compose a poem about it later on. In the summers when the weather would hit triple digits, and I’d try to call her in, she’d hide under the shade of my neighbor's rosemary bush and sleep for hours. Eventually she’d come home and take her place beside me, or rest her head on my chest at night, but her lifestyle in California had changed her. The bond between us was still there and I was happy she was living such a fulfilling life, but in someways it felt like she had gone off to college and I was left behind dealing with empty nest syndrome. I guess in a bittersweet way, she was all grown up and didn’t need me as much as she used to. Which in the bigger picture, is how I always meant for her to live.

~

When someone you love dies, and you’re not expecting it, you don’t lose her all at once; you lose her in pieces over a long time — the way the mail stops coming, and her scent fades from the pillows and even from the clothes in her closet and drawers. Gradually, you accumulate the parts of her that are gone. Just when the day comes — when there’s a particular missing part that overwhelms you with the feeling that she’s gone, forever — there comes another day, and another specifically missing part.”~ John Irving

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Piece by Piece

By the time Pierre was three years old, she was diagnosed with acute asthma and was put on medication. I suspected her lungs had been compromised when she was living on a construction site as a kitten, which was then aggravated later on by New York City apartment living. Managing her condition required keeping on top of the dust and thorough and frequent cleanings. I was a smoker back then and while I didn't seem committed enough to safeguard my own health, the thought of Pierre's lips turning blue and having to rush her to the Emergency Room in a taxi cab did the trick and I stopped cold turkey. Fortunately, her condition greatly improved once we moved to California. So much so, I was able to take her off the daily medication she had been taking.

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The hyperthyrodism hit her when she was almost ten and we managed that condition through medication and monitoring her blood levels every few months. At this point, I put Pierre on an HMO version of a health care plan to give me better options in her care. Following the hyperthyrodism diagnoses by a couple of years was her first seizure. It happened so quickly, I almost wasn't sure I saw it correctly. She just jumped on the table and for a few splits seconds lost the use of her back legs. When the doctor told me that neurological seizures were in most cases progressive, my mind went numb. Expecting the worst, I took Pierre home and calculated in my mind how much time I might have left with her. Pierre had other plans and didn't have another seizure for nearly a year. This hiatus allowed me to come to terms with the fact that I was going to eventually have to make a judgment call when it was Pierre's time to go, while also secretly nurturing a false sense of hope that this might all go away.

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The cliff I fell off after months of hope came with the loss of her hearing. In an instant I realized that for the time she had remaining, there would be no more music for Pierre. No sound of the rain, the birds, or life in her beloved garden. I can pinpoint exactly when she lost her hearing, although I didn't know it at the time. It was Spring and Pierre was out enjoying the scattered showers we had that morning from somewhere in the neighborhood. I tried calling her but when she didn’t respond I left for work. Three hours later I got a text from my neighbor that Pierre was yowling madly in front of the screen door. When I came home to see if Pierre had been injured, I couldn’t find anything wrong with her physically. I thought maybe something had spooked her. A run in with a wild animal, or a dog? For the next few days she stayed inside. When she ventured out, it was always somewhere close by where I could see her. I would call for the cats to come in but only Zoe and Ziggy would respond. This went on for another week and then one day, I saw Pierre sleeping on one of the chairs in the front garden and I called out to her. Nothing. No twitch of the ear, no swish of her tail. I walked right up to her, talking as I did, and still nothing. She didn't know I was there until I had actually made contact. I felt an ache in my soul that never went away. My sweet Pierre was deaf.

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Our lives changed after that. No longer able to go outside unsupervised, I bought a harness and began training her to go out on a leash. In typical Pierre fashion, she understood what I was doing and took to the leash immediately. Walking Pierre around the neighborhood was more Pierre walking where she wanted to go and me following. My neighbors were very sympathetic, letting me walk around their front lawns when they understood why. Even though my heart was heavy knowing that Pierre could no longer explore the world on her own, it was still a special time for me as Pierre began to show me some of her favorite hiding places in the neighborhood. Sometimes, she'd just want to sit in the sun, or under a tree. So I sat with her until she wanted to go home. I listened to the wind in the trees for her. The mockingbirds that used to sweep down and peck Zoe and Ziggy on the heads. Every sound I heard was filtered through a new appreciation and a longing and grief for what Pierre lost.

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I wish we would've had more time together for our neighborhood walks, but just as Summer arrived Pierre began to suffer horrendous allergies where she was licking and biting herself bloody. To stop her from gnawing at her skin, I had to put one of those plastic collars around her neck. Feeling either awkward, pissed off, or vulnerable, she had no interest in going outside and sat on my bed all day. When she found ways around that collar to bite herself, I had to put on even larger collar. She was so miserable, I found her sitting in her litterbox one day looking like she was ready to give up on life. That's when I put together the baby onesie. While it got her out of the litter box, and prevented her from biting herself, she still had no interest in the world around her. It was truly the lowest point for both of us. What was even more heartbreaking was not being able to soothe her the way I always had. Which meant I couldn’t chant with her and I couldn’t sing to her. All I could do was hold her and stroke her. After almost two interminable months I finally got her allergies under control. The first day Pierre was out of the onesie, she came to visit me in the morning like she used to when she was a kitten, crawling up on top of me and communicating what she'd been through. Except this time, I’d been through it with her.

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The erratic nature of her seizures made predicting anything next to impossible. A few months could go by and she'd have one seizure. Then the following week she'd have three. Another month would go by, and nothing. Then a dozen in matter of days. Then nothing again for a few months. The last week of her life, she began having seizures every day. By the last night, they were coming in clusters every couple of hours, and finally every fifteen minutes. I was in hell that night, wondering if I should've gone to the emergency room and put her down earlier in the day rather than waiting, hoping, and wishing she had a little more time. We didn't get any sleep that last night. I tried to comfort her. To hold her, to stroke her with her favorite brush, but just when the both of us were beginning to relax, she'd have another seizure. When she was first diagnosed, the doctor told me she wasn't in any pain, but when the seizures would hit her, she'd fall off tables, get agitated and confused, and it was gut-wrenching to watch.

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Mercifully, morning came and I called the doctor's office and told them it was Pierre's time. All I could think of on the drive over there, Pierre by my side in her kitty carrier, was to just stop the agony. That was my goal. I didn't think beyond that. Once I arrived, they ushered me in immediately into one of the rooms they had prepared especially for us. After settling the payment arrangements, they brought in a tray with the injection and asked me if I wanted time alone before they proceeded. Pierre was lying down quietly for the moment on a blanket they had put on the table. I looked over at her and the reality of what was about to happen finally hit me in its entirety. Her eyes were completely dilated from the craziness going on in her brain and I wasn't sure she knew who I was or what was even happening. I called my Sister and the only thing I could manage to say through my sobbing was "But she can't hear me say goodbye". It doesn't matter my Sister said. You can say goodbye by touching her and loving her. She'll understand that. So I picked her up from the blanket and I put her on my shoulder and swayed around the room like we were dancing while I quietly sang Fly Me to the Moon.

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”Grief I’ve learned is just love. It’s all the love you want to give but cannot. All of that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go.” ~ Anonymous
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Among The Fields of Gold

A few days after Pierre passed, I had a dream that I went back to my apartment in New York. In the dream, the building was undergoing renovations and there were drop cloths everywhere, ladders, paint cans, and partially painted walls. Inside my apartment it was empty except for my writing table by the windows. On the table was my laptop which had a live camera filming the front of my house back in California. Inside the frame, I could see Pierre. She was in the front of the house, outside the gates, wearing her red harness and her leash. I called out to her in my dream but she couldn't hear me. I was very upset that no one was there holding onto the other end of her leash. I was worried that she would run away. But she didn't. Instead, she turned toward the house, wandered down the driveway through the gates with the red leash dragging behind her. I had a lot of mixed feelings about that dream. Wondering if it meant she was looking for me and couldn't find me at home. It wasn't until I started writing about Pierre's life that I realized the dream wasn't about Pierre being alone. Or not being able to find me. The dream was about saying good-bye and going home. Her new home. Where she could hear again. Where she could explore again. Play again. Dance again. Un-tethered to her illnesses and free again. I'm not sure where that new home is for Pierre, but where ever it is, I hope they have music.

~
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Au Revoir Pierre

July 2005 - February 12, 2020

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Je pense souvent à toi et je ne t’oublierai jamais
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Comments

Very sweet.

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Anja Geitz's picture

@on the cusp

And I was thinking, hey, I’m working as fast as I can! Lol. So glad I was able to finish this. Friends and neighbors kept asking me about it and I started to feel like I was never going to get it done. It’s a bit long. Could’ve went even longer. There was so much going on in my own life at the time that I never included in this piece because I was primarily focused on Pierre, but the two narratives actually fit together get. Dunno, maybe it’s the beginnings of a short story.

Thanks for stopping by my friend.

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

Raggedy Ann's picture

Death is for the living. Those left behind are here to bring forth the story of the one who has left the earth plane. My spouse's sudden death has never left me, these 30+ years.

You are an incredible writer. You sucked me in and had me in tears by the end. What a lovely story - needs to be published.

Hope you are doing well, my friend.

Enjoy your day, folks! Pleasantry

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"When will our conscience's grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?" Eleanor Roosevelt

"The secret of change is to focus all your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new." Socrates (469-399 BC)

Anja Geitz's picture

@Raggedy Ann

Including Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon”. Nice touch. You’re absolutely right about the place those we’ve loved leave in our memories. Even though Pierre was not a human being, she was certainly more than just a “pet”. I am definitely richer for having known her. Which in the end, makes the missing her so deeply felt.

Thank you for taking the time and reading Pierre’s story. Your kind words went straight to my heart.

XXXO

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6 users have voted.

There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

may be gender fluid, but French -- Le Francais-- he is very strict about these things. So, it must be "mon petit Pierre", or "ma petite Pierre", lest the wrath of L'Academie fall upon the unsuspecting head of the anglaise.

Well, okay, it's not quite that strict. To facilitate oral mechanics -- and as everyone knows, the French are very interested in oral mechanics -- one applies the masculine "mon" in front of a feminine noun or adjective, if the noun or adjective begins with a vowel: "Mon ami" and "Mon amie", where the "n" is now fully pronounced, as in the English word, "moan", to provide "liaison" rather than the awkward "glottal stop" required by "ma amie". So: "Ma belle amie," but "Mon amie." Oh, those French, and their oral mechanics and moans and whatnot.

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9 users have voted.

The earth is a multibillion-year-old sphere.
The Nazis killed millions of Jews.
On 9/11/01 a Boeing 757 (AA77) flew into the Pentagon.
AGCC is happening.
If you cannot accept these facts, I cannot fake an interest in any of your opinions.

Anja Geitz's picture

@UntimelyRippd

But you just made my day by pointing that out. Given Pierre’s history with her name and her gender, it’s kinda poetic that I made the mistake. I think I’ll keep that way.

Thanks for stopping by and reading Pierre’s story. Smile

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7 users have voted.

There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

@Anja Geitz
masculine possessives in front of feminine nouns provides oral liaisons characterized by moans.

And we didn't even have to bring the Latin mons into the discussion.

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The earth is a multibillion-year-old sphere.
The Nazis killed millions of Jews.
On 9/11/01 a Boeing 757 (AA77) flew into the Pentagon.
AGCC is happening.
If you cannot accept these facts, I cannot fake an interest in any of your opinions.

Anja Geitz's picture

@UntimelyRippd

I have to be honest with you, I’ve never thought of “moans” quite that way before.

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

lotlizard's picture

@Anja Geitz  

Je pense souvent à toi et je ne t’oublierai jamais

Close companionship with a cat is simply something special. Thinking about feline friends now departed, I’ll get teary-eyed every time. So many moments in my life when the love from and for a cat has hit me and bowled me over, in a good way, like a Zen mentor or an angelic messenger.

https://caucus99percent.com/comment/262116#comment-262116

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Anja Geitz's picture

@lotlizard

To someone who has never experienced a close relationship with an animal. But for those of us who have, we understand completely. The bond is real. The grief is real. Thanks for the link to the videos.

As to the correction in my French, this one I will change. Smile

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

You know you have my deepest condolences.

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Actually, the issue at stake is patriotism. You must return to your world and put an end to the Commies. All it takes are a few good men.
--Q

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

Anja Geitz's picture

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal

Said she balled her eyes out when she read Pierre’s story. And then thanked me. I feel as if the first few weeks after Pierre’s death I was simply numb. Then came the 24 hour news cycle on the virus, the deaths, the horror, the terror, the lockdown, the uncertainty, the anxiety, and the natural grieving process for Pierre was subverted. Writing this helped open that up again and I was able to articulate and find a place for all the feelings that were bottled up inside me. I hope in some way, it helped you too.

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

Lookout's picture

also suffering from hyperthyroidism. We hope for another couple of years, but have always had a sense of when they are ready. Funny how they are so demanding as kittens and at end of life. The pain and reward of love are mighty. Thanks for sharing yours!

Don't know if you caught this poem I posted last week in your OT.

The Scholar and His Cat, Pangur Bán

I and Pangur Bán my cat,
‘Tis a like task we are at:
Hunting mice is his delight,
Hunting words I sit all night.

Better far than praise of men
‘Tis to sit with book and pen;
Pangur bears me no ill-will,
He too plies his simple skill.

‘Tis a merry task to see
At our tasks how glad are we,
When at home we sit and find
Entertainment to our mind.

Oftentimes a mouse will stray
In the hero Pangur’s way;
Oftentimes my keen thought set
Takes a meaning in its net.

‘Gainst the wall he sets his eye
Full and fierce and sharp and sly;
‘Gainst the wall of knowledge I
All my little wisdom try.

When a mouse darts from its den,
O how glad is Pangur then!
O what gladness do I prove
When I solve the doubts I love!

So in peace our task we ply,
Pangur Ban, my cat, and I;
In our arts we find our bliss,
I have mine and he has his.

Practice every day has made
Pangur perfect in his trade;
I get wisdom day and night
Turning darkness into light.

-translated from the Gaelic by Robin Flowler

Pangur Bán was written by a 9th Century monk somewhere inside or in the vicinity of Reichenau Abby, which is on Reichenau Island in Lake Constance in the south of Germany.

Have a good one!

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

Anja Geitz's picture

@Lookout

Thank you so much for the wonderful poem! Loved the part about “Hunting mice and Hunting words”. But instead of hunting mice, Pierre would sit next to me while I wrote offering such a relaxing companionship. Cats are wonderful that way. They are so “zen”. Pierre was never much of a mouser. Thankfully not much of a birder either. Ziggy brings in lizards though. In fact I have a lizard some where here in the house that got away from him yesterday. Hope it doesn’t crawl up on me while I’m sleeping. Yikes!

Glad you could stop by and read Pierre’s story. It was a very cathartic process writing it. So glad I have a platform here where I can do that and appreciate the memberships tolerance of letting me do that.

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

enhydra lutris's picture

for writing it. You very much have my sympathy.

be well and have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

Anja Geitz's picture

@enhydra lutris

Thank you. I know it was a very long piece, but hopefully, it painted a picture of who Pierre was. It was important to me to honor her memory for a lot of reasons. Appreciate you being here.

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

studentofearth's picture

fit comfortably like an old glove
those that come and go without notice
ones we make adjustment for while living together
on rare occasions we experience one who changes our very being
expands our capacity to understand and relate to the world
those changes do not leave and life is richer
if we choose to keep and experience the expanded awareness

I suggest you still take walks occasionally around the neighborhood and use the cat awareness you learned for a friend.

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Still yourself, deep water can absorb many disturbances with minimal reaction.
--When the opening appears release yourself.

Anja Geitz's picture

@studentofearth

You were somehow able to distill my feelings exactly. Thank you. I am richer for having known her. Yes, the walks. I still cry thinking about them but in between the missing her tears, are the tears that are full of tender remembrances. Fair trade off if you think about it.

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

wendy davis's picture

and thank you. aha: zoe and Zoebear.

none of our cats had ever caused me to grieve for long, but one dog: a large black-and-white spaniel who'd been brought up by my my parents in san jose...my mum had named him 'Lincoln'.

we created a special park on our land where he's buried, and both of us still dream of him, and feel honored by his nocturnal visits. we also still tear up when we speak of him. as a side note: he was so human, that some our friends used to include him in the salutations in their letters to us. ; )

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Anja Geitz's picture

@wendy davis

You could tell him to keep an eye for Pierre? Pierre loved dogs. I haven’t dreamed of Pierre since that one time, but I would be honored if she came back for visit as well. I leave a little water dish for her under the fig tree, in case she comes by. Still waiting. But maybe she’s having so much fun where she is, she forgot about the time?

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

wendy davis's picture

@Anja Geitz

but though i have a very active dream life, and have taken note of jungian dream analysis and others', i'm not a lucid dreamer.

ah, he was a wild child all his life. he'd always break leads and even chains to escape to crowds of humanity. i swear, he'd even gone up elevators at CU boulder to mingle. i'd finally painted his address on his leather collar, kinda like: 'send my love back to me'.

my guess is that you'll dream of pierre again when you need to, and she needs you to (if such a thing doesn't sound simply absurd). i should say that we've had a dozen other dog and cats adopt us since...even another black and white spaniel.

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snoopydawg's picture

I see why she left such a hole in your heart. Pets are the best gifts that wander into our lives, but sadly for such a short time, but during that time they teach us so many gifts. The biggest one I believe is unconditional love. They leave their footprints on our hearts and our souls because of it and that is why there is so much hurt felt when they are absent from our lives.

Your memories of Pierre will live on in your heart and that is the best that she gave you. No matter how many years pass you can always find them there waiting to give you her love again whenever you need it. But remember too that you gave her your love and that was why she was able to return it 10 fold.

Peace, Anja. May you find comfort from the words you have written here.

snoop

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"It seems to me that the problem is that group party interests, in this case, are placed above the interests of the entire society and the interests of people,"

Anja Geitz's picture

@snoopydawg

When I come home, and I’m not sure if that will ever go away. She was one of those very special souls. And I knew if from the very beginning. People say that 15 years was a long time. True as far as that goes in cat years. In human years, it was not nearly enough.

Thanks for stopping by, Snoopy. It really helped the grieving process writing this Tribute. Even through the tears, it was so lovely to spend time with Pierre again.

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

Have a buddy in Silicon Valley who is going through seeing his family cat fighting cancer. He went to get a new battery and the owner of the shop started getting chocked up having gone through the same--watching his cat die. The words pet and animal do not give any sense of human relationships with the lives of complex creatures around us.

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Anja Geitz's picture

@MrWebster

They are more than just animals, and losing them is more painful, in some ways, than when you lose a person. Such loving souls they are who adore us as we are. Best quote I ever heard about loving them is wanting to be the person they think we are. I sure tried.

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

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Anja Geitz's picture

@aliasalias

Thank you for reading my tribute to Pierre. We can all relate to the feelings that come with loving and losing our furry friends.

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5 users have voted.

There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

thank you for sharing Anja
Pierre is a part of you now

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Anja Geitz's picture

@QMS

She is a part of me now. Thank you for that.

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

RantingRooster's picture

way too close to home. I'm crying like baby. I had two cats pass away within two years of one another and it was painful!

I miss my Rembrant. I had to put him to sleep because he had terminal kidney failure. When I found him, it took two and half hours of coaxing him out from between the floorboard and transmission of my truck. My father's dog had scared him. He weighted about 6-8 ounces and was just fur and bones.

His 1st day home was spent sleeping on my shoulder with what would become his favorite toy, a little teddy bear.
clinton_rembrant_1st_day_home.jpg

He grew up to weight almost 30 lbs but more along the lines of line backer meat than nose guard tubby! He was strong.
IMG259.jpg

Callie passed away from Kitty leukemia. She was probably the smartest cat I have ever encountered, and just the sweetest soul. Callie just loved Rembrant.
callie_baby_rembrant.jpg

I have to agree with this sediment 100%

Whoever said that loss gets easier with time was a liar.

That is such a great tribute to Pierre. The love shines through! Wow that was really powerful writing! (can I stop sobbing yet?)
Drinks

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12 users have voted.

"Men who look upon themselves born to reign, and others to obey, soon grow insolent; selected from the rest of mankind their minds are early poisoned by importance;" - Thomas Paine, Common Sense

Anja Geitz's picture

@RantingRooster

Maybe “Lincoln”, “Rembrandt”, and “Pierre” can keep each other company? Thank you so much for your story and the wonderful pictures. While I did write this as a tribute to Pierre, I was also hoping it would resonate with the members here. So, I appreciate your honesty and am touched it reminded you of your beloved Rembrandt. I think we can all benefit from focusing our attentions on the humanity in our lives, especially in times of crisis. And our fur babies sure bring out the best in us, don’t they? So hard to lose them. So easy to love them. I feel ya.

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

RantingRooster's picture

@Anja Geitz that made my wife drop the "d" from Rembrandt to Rembrant. I wanted to name him Velcro, because once he knew he was "saved", he stuck to everything he touched and wouldn't stop purring. I told her, I found him, I get to name him. She wasn't having it. But she was the artist in the family, and the wife, but she did comprised with me lol.

With as much "death" as I've had to experience personally in the last decade, 3 cats, an brother, a mother, a wife, just about anything can set me off, but your story was exceptional and truly moving. It is a beautiful tribute to a truly wonderful cat. Thank you so much for sharing it.

Drinks

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"Men who look upon themselves born to reign, and others to obey, soon grow insolent; selected from the rest of mankind their minds are early poisoned by importance;" - Thomas Paine, Common Sense

Anja Geitz's picture

@RantingRooster

It was almost like he was “knighted” with that name. Lol.

Sorry to hear about your losses. That’s a lot to grieve in a short period of time, my friend. I’m very touched that you found my little story about Pierre so moving.

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

Deja's picture

Just kidding. We're just confused people sometimes. I adopted a little kitty that blew in with a tropical storm. If I'm being honest, I originally thought I had just smoked the best weed I'd ever had until the guy smoking it with me admitted that he too had just seen a dark something streak across his floor.

I named her Little Girl. She was so tiny! Some months later, I dragged her with me to a new apartment and was swapping laundry. Warm, dry load went on the couch, and wet load into the dryer. When I returned to the couch to fold the dry load, Little Girl was spread eagle on her (cough) back and her (cough) little penis was showing. Little Girl was a little boy, but the two names don't rhyme, and she knew her name by then.

I had to come up with something! (Eminem wasn't around then.) What rhymes with Little Girl? Tilt-a-Whirl? Nah! His new name, that was listed on countless apartment leases was, Milton Berle. Oh the looks I got for that one lol!

I have to admit, I didn't finish reading because I started tearing up and my lunch break ends in 4 minutes. I will cry after work.

Thanks for a great read, so far!

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Anja Geitz's picture

@Deja

Boy did you make me smile with that story. Our lives certainly are more interesting with our furry friends, aren’t they?

Thanks for sharing!

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

Unabashed Liberal's picture

did not disappoint. Good Have to believe that Pierre is very proud of 'her Peep' about now--even while she intently loves and watches out for you, from wherever her new home is. I hope she has music, too. Smile

Foolish as it may sound, I'm hoping that, one day, we'll all be united with our loved ones (in some form or fashion)--including our precious furbabies. The thought of that has always made whatever tragedy or grief life's thrown at me, somehow, more bearable.

Agree wholeheartedly with RA--you really should publish this lovely tribute. Don't recall having read one more meaningful, or heartfelt. Or, well-written. Or, better illustrated with lovely photos.

I teared up throughout it, but, lost it, when I read this verse,

”Grief I’ve learned is just love. It’s all the love you want to give but cannot. All of that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go.” ~ Anonymous

[my bolding/italics for emphasis]

I hope you won't mind if I occasionally include it in my sig line, with my other favs. It particularly describes how I felt when we lost Mister B--so, out-of-the-blue. I was at a total loss--couldn't even bring myself to post a single font for about 7-8 months, IIRC.

Still wear Bailey's heart-shaped name tag, and several of his Vac tags on a chain, whenever we leave the house. It's one of my ways of honoring and remembering him. That, and burning a candle for him every Thursday evening. Mr M and I often joked that he was like an American Express Card--that we "never left home without him." (to various banking personnel, etc., who'd we regularly see at drive-thrus) Of course, we couldn't leave him, for his safety--he once jumped out of a second story window to follow me as I was walking Murphee. It was Fall, so I was airing out the second floor, by turning off the A/C, and raising a couple of windows. He jumped from the bed, knocking out the screen. That was within weeks of us adopting him, and, of course, it told us that he had a very severe case of "separation anxiety." On a happier note, somewhat unusual for a Springer, 'Mister B' often bayed like a hound--it was the sweetest sound. And, he always did it, under only one circumstance--as he came through the door of the house, after having been gone for a long time. (we figured that, due to anxiety, he was simply relieved to be back home) I miss it, greatly.

Anyhoo, I thank you for sharing with us, so much of your wonderful life with Ms Pierre, and, Zoe and Ziggy. I know from our past convos, that no cat ever received more love, or gentle and excellent care. And, I bet she knew it, too. Smile Didn't quite realize the extent of her medical problems (over the years). Clearly, it was because of you that she weathered them, and was able to live such a good, long life. I hope you can find some solace in that knowledge.

(I've decided to acknowledge our pets passing on their birthdays, or, the anniversaries of their passing, but, will not attempt to write a tribute, since I have no capability of writing beyond reporting facts, etc.)

The impact (on our lives) of our pets is immeasurable, IMHO. At a more appropriate time, may share a few more experiences, with mine.

But, for now, want to leave you with this passage to honor her, made 'Pierre-appropriate' by substituting dog, with cat -

“Every time I lose a cat, he takes a piece of my heart. Every new cat gifts me with a piece of his. Someday, my heart will be total cat, and, maybe then, I will be just as generous, loving, and forgiving.”
~~Author Unknown

Give rose

[Edited - changed to cat; added italics for emphasis]

Take care, Amiga. And, again, thank you. Pleasantry

Mollie

“I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me, they are the role model for being alive.”
~~Gilda Radner, Comedienne

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Everyone thinks they have the best dog, and none of them are wrong.

Anja Geitz's picture

@Unabashed Liberal

I don’t think it’s silly at all to imagine a time when we will all be reunited with all of our loved ones. Including the furry ones. It’s a lovely thought.

Regarding the quote. That was my favorite one too. Please feel free to use it as you sig line.

Have to say I’m actually relieved to have finally finished Pierre’s tribute. The hardest part to write was the end. But while I relieved her death in the writing, I also got to relive her life too. And that was my favorite part. She had a good life. I did the best I could for her. I kept the promise I made to her that first night she came home with me when I told her I would always take care of her. I guess my job is done now.

So, so, hard to lose the special ones. And she was so very special.

Thanks for your sweet words. So glad you enjoyed this piece.

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

mhagle's picture

I am sharing it with friends.

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Marilyn

"Make dirt, not war." eyo

Anja Geitz's picture

@mhagle

It means a lot to me that her story is read. In a strange way, having her on the page now, keeps her alive.

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

smiley7's picture

Pierre and you.

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Dawn's Meta's picture

I've had many fur babies, often found when they were older. They were many because of their typical ages. It was amazing how the old hands taught the newer ones what to do and where to go.

In France many women have male sounding names. One of our friends is Marie (wait for it...)) Pierre. There you have it...she was meant be.

I planted trees in my cemetary. Aways a wonderful reminder.

Take care

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A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit. Allegedly Greek, but more possibly fairly modern quote.

Consider helping by donating using the button in the upper left hand corner. Thank you.

Anja Geitz's picture

@Dawn's Meta

Love that. Will have to tell my Sister. She’ll enjoy that as well Smile

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

CB's picture

for cats are philosophical, sedate, quiet animals, fond of their own way, liking cleanliness and order, and not apt to bestow their affection hastily." - Théophile Gautier

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Anja Geitz's picture

@CB

And very true. Never took their affection for granted. They may parse it out but when they love you, you feel like you earned it. I always felt that a very special trait about cats. They are not dogs. I love dogs. But they are different. And isn’t the difference what makes living with them so interesting?

Thanks for stopping by.

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

gulfgal98's picture

I cried when I read it because it brought back many memories of fur children from my past. One of those was a blue Persian named Louie. Like with Pierre, I thought Louie was a male when he was a small kitten, mostly because of his head shape. It turned out that Louie was a female, but Louie was still Louie to me and I always called her "him."

You are an incredible writer and we are blessed to have you sharing your thoughts in such wonderful prose with us. Thank you for this heartfelt essay.

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"I don't want to run the empire, I want to bring it down!" ~ Dr. Cornel West

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." ~ President John F. Kennedy

Anja Geitz's picture

@gulfgal98

She must’ve been lovely. Especially lying in the sun.

If you had a Sister like mine, she would’ve tried to talk you into re-naming her Louise. The name she came up with for Pierre was Pippy. As in Pippy Longsticking. I told her Pierre was not Swedish. She was French. Recently, my Sister adopted a stray whose name is....you guessed it. Pippy.

Always enjoy stories about people and their animals. Makes me smile. And these are times when a lot more smiling is needed. Thanks GulfGal.

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

Granma's picture

Thank you.

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Anja Geitz's picture

@Granma

Glad you visited and met my Pierre.

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2 users have voted.

There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

You are a gifted writer.

I've got a little found feline too, and she is so zen that some days I mistake her for the Buddha. She chose to move inside after she had some passengers on board so we have a full house of furry crazy and they are all loved to the ends of the earth. They are all getting older now and so are we, so we are all just doing the best we can to enjoy whatever time we have.

Thanks so much for sharing these memories of your beloved Pierre. She had a great story, and it sounds like she also had a great life on account of having a great human. I'm glad you two found each other...and if it turns out that there is an eternity, I hope you find each other again.

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Anja Geitz's picture

@Reverend Jane Ignatowski

She chose to move inside after she had some passengers on board

A house full of kittens. I can think of few things better to enjoy the time we have here. I’ve been trying to live that way, everyday, during these stressful and uncertain times. Zen Cats help too.

Thanks for visiting, Rev. Jane. Always have enjoyed your contributions.

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

smiley7's picture

Returned for another reading of Pierre. So talented you are, my friend; a clean, inviting style with detail. Human, placing us readers in the heart of moments; simply marvelous.

A treasure you are.

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Anja Geitz's picture

@smiley7

Always look forward to seeing you pop into my threads. This is no exception. So, glad you enjoyed this piece. As I told Mollie up thread, it was difficult re-living her death, but gosh did I enjoy re-living her extraordinary life. It was as if she were still here while I was writing it. And by reading it, you are keeping her memory alive. Thank you my friend. You are a treasure as well.

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

I don't post often, but had to upon reading this. I cried and cried and am really feeling your words, your love for Pierre and hers for you, as my own perfect companion, Jaska the Finnish Spitz, is aging and only has a few years left. Thank you, again.

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Anja Geitz's picture

@Sima

I hope you enjoy every moment you have your beloved Jaska. Taking pictures and videos will help jog the memories later. You’ll come to treasure them.

Great name for a cat, btw Smile

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier