Category Archives: The Kids Photos

She was Daddy’s girl

At the Humane Society to rescue a kitten or two, “she meowed loudly, began purring, and climbed right up my arm.  Once she reached my shoulder, she turned, rubbed her face against mine, meowed with fervent delight, and wrapped her front legs around me in an elated hug.  That’s when Derek said, ‘Oh, look who’s gonna be a Daddy’s girl.'”

And she was Daddy’s girl right up to the end.

Close-up of Kako (2008_12_27_003712)

She never stopped climbing to my shoulders and wrapping around my neck, purring contentedly as she perched there as long as she could.

She never stopped talking to me at every opportunity, though sometimes this took the form of yelling at me.

Kako resting on a cat tree (2009_03_01_011681)

She never stopped hugging me, whether it be my arm, leg, neck, or whatever other part of my body she could wrap her paws around.

She never stopped grooming me when she felt my appearance wasn’t up to snuff or when she wanted to show affection.

Close-up of Kako (2008_12_27_003717)

She never stopped playing fetch, always bringing the ball back so I’d throw it one more time.  One more time, Daddy.  One more time…

She never stopped being the consummate lap cat, hardly waiting for me to sit before she claimed her rightful place.

Kako holding a toy (20080223_02254)

She never stopped sleeping under the covers with me or on the pillow next to my head, always in close contact, always right there.

She never stopped taking care of me when I didn’t feel my best, giving me all the attention I needed so I’d feel better.

Close-up of Kako (2008_12_27_003756)

She never stopped being Daddy’s girl, even when age and disease finally began their assault on her.  She never stopped being Daddy’s girl even when I had to say goodbye.

She never stopped being Daddy’s girl, and in my mind and heart she never will.

September 1998 – December 2015

Unfulfilled promises

It feels like a house with one of its children gone.  Perhaps even emptier than that.

Loki sitting on the floor staring at me (162_6284)

It feels like a song with no music or lyrics.  Perhaps even quieter than that.

A close-up of Loki as he looks outside (163_6319)

It feels like a bed with no one to warm it.  Perhaps even colder than that.

Loki half asleep on the bed (2009_03_01_011809)

It feels like a list of unfulfilled promises that can never be redeemed.  Perhaps even more disappointing than that.

A close-up profile of Loki as he sleeps (20081005_13451_new)

At least now he can sleep peacefully without suffering.  That’s the only substantive good I can find in this hollow.

Loki, February 1997 – May 2014

He never met a stranger

Everything is made to be broken.  Thus rings the loudest bell in life, the piercing sound of endings that follow all beginnings.  For in this universe that shelters us, nothing is eternal.
— Jason M Hogle, Some comfort here

Sometimes words fail me.  Not often, no, but sometimes.

Let me just say that Vazra will be missed.  And not just by me, but instead by everyone who ever met him.  Why?

Because he never met a stranger.  Just ask anyone who had the pleasure of being in his presence.

A close-up of Vazra (2008_12_27_003721)

August 1996 – December 2012

Loss is a funny thing: immeasurable, though we recognize the fullness of it and know when it diminishes; uncontainable, though we can carry it in a single lifetime; and insubstantial, yet we immediately feel its weight when it rests upon us.
— Jason M Hogle, Dreamdarkers

End of an era

Death, the undiscovered country,
From whose bourn no traveler returns…
— William Shakespeare, Hamlet

A close-up of Grendel, one of my cats, as he lies in a doorway (2009_03_01_011678)

At fifteen years old, he lived the equivalent of 76 humans years and he battled health problems the whole way, yet he never suffered needlessly.  No, I can never watch an animal suffer.

I did not think Grendel would survive long enough to make the move to East Texas earlier this year, yet as he always did he proved me wrong by rallying, holding his head up and marching proudly and strongly through another woeful bout of poor health.  But all things end, all things wither and die, from stars to people to domestic cats, thus his years came to a close today when his failing body offered more pain and problems than we could conquer.

How I will miss Sponge, the cat who never met a stranger and who always accepted affection from anyone within arm’s reach.  I will miss him wrapping his paws around my arm and pulling it to him to use as a pillow.  I will miss the gentle monster who rode in my lap three hours with nary a complaint, interrupting my driving only when he wanted a reassuring scratch, a kind word, a look to tell him things would be okay.

Today marks the end of an era, an era of rich and full living, an era of love, an era of triumph.  Though his body wished to give up long ago, his soul wouldn’t dream of giving up too soon.

Today marks the end of an era.  Today Grendel hunts in the universe’s vast jungle.  Today he became a lion.

Something breaks beneath my skin

Henry David Thoreau once wrote that “the poem of the world is uninterrupted.”  How true that is.  And yet, like every other bit of poetry, the poem of the world has its endings, with each line and each stanza braking for the next, each a whole world of beginnings and endings, for the poem of the world overflows with beginnings and endings, each sentence and each stanza ripe with untold starts and stops.  And while the beginnings cannot exist without their endings, and while the poem itself cannot exist or move forward without both, often it is the endings that give us pause, that catch our breath, that force us to face what we’ve just read, what we’ve just experienced.  Still, the poem of the world is uninterrupted no matter how much it feels otherwise when we reach one of those endings…

He lay quietly, wrapped in my shirt, cradled gently in my arms as a father would hold a child.  Staying my own trembles required more effort than I imagined existed in all the world, yet I prevailed.  No amount of weakness borne of anguish could overcome my desire to see him tended.  I would not fail him.

Whispers of my love danced from my lips until they fell upon his ears in quiet so profound it beckoned the universe to hush so it might hear me.  My hands moved nimbly over his fur in strokes of passion deep and heartfelt.  Beneath my soft caress his body trembled slightly, weakly, a strain against my embrace in defiance of what was to come.  I knew no creature could survive what he faced, no body could withstand it.  I knew he was dying.

I leaned my face close to his in that way I often did, and I gently spoke to him, halting abruptly only to listen as he feebly whimpered.  His weakening breath softly brushed my face.  It was like a kiss to me, and it engendered a tear that fell just beyond his neck and landed on the tattered cloth of a shirt I would never wear again.  Briefly, my eyes fixated on the darkness it created there, a small and insignificant spot of salt water, and I stared at it absently.

His trembles became weaker still and I shifted my focus back to his small face.  Eyes bright as stars on a moonless night stared back at me, a loving gaze that washed over my face and seemed to push the air out of the room.  I wanted to bathe in it, to wash my whole body in that scrutiny.  And yet I knew I would never see it outside the harshly lit room in which we stood.  Too much had happened; too many pains had befallen such a small soul.

Racked by guiltless longing for what could never be, I leaned ever closer to his face and kissed him gently through my own growing sobs.  He needn’t worry for me, needn’t add my own trepidation to his own, so I struggled against the lamentations welling up within my essence and denied them voice.  It had to be his time, his moment, his wisp of the cosmos defined in a sterile room tucked away in cheap offers of peace.  I would not fail him.

So I snuggled him closely and let his waning pants lick my cheeks, my nose, my lips in vast smallness only he could define.  Their flavor slipped from me, grew increasingly distant.  I wanted to take within my own flesh all the suffering and pain he felt.

Was there no offering I could make by which to trade places with him?  Was there no hope of granting his flesh a part of the life I still carried?

As he slipped away, I inhaled his final essence, the last breathing from a suddenly lifeless body, and into me I took it with force and selfishness.  I would hold my breath for the rest of my life if it meant I could keep that part of him with me always.

Finally streams of sorrow marched down my cheeks and fell around his halo-lit countenance.  Letting him go was not an option.  I would rend my heart upon the same shirt in which he was wrapped, cast it upon the floor holding up my feet, and all if it meant just one more moment, one more cry, one more touch from a life taken too soon.

So cries this love.  So weeps this season of hollow.

A close-up of Kazon, one of my cats, backlit by sunlight (2009_02_28_011609)

September 1998 – July 2011

A morning kiss, a discreet touch of his nose
landing somewhere on the middle of my face.
Because his long whiskers tickled,
I began every day laughing.
— Janet F. Faure