"It's as if a great bird lives inside the stone of our days and since no sculptor can free it, it has to wait for the elements to wear us down, till it is free to fly." Mark Nepo

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Festus

He was born in my home. I gave him his name, Festus. Then I gave him to my baby brother and his wife. Where he lived a happy and loved life, and gave much more than he received, for seventeen years. The ninth of his nine lives ran out last weekend.

We'd been expecting the news for months. Every time I talked to Geoff or Lynn, I'd ask if Festus was still with us. He wasn't obviously ill–just slower, thinner, quieter. When we were there at Christmas he still sought us out for loves, but couldn't jump up and would disappear for hours at a time. When I petted him into purring at the end of the visit, I did so knowing it was probably our last goodbye.

And yet with all of that, plus the fact that he wasn't even my cat, when I read the e-mail on Sunday I felt a light go out and a tiny little tear open in my heart.

Festus was an ordinary cat, slightly goofy with too-close eyes and a huge appetite for laps and pets. A deep rumbly purr. In his early lives, he'd come running when you called his name. My middle brother, Mark, taught him to eat out of his hand. During gatherings, when we'd play games in the evenings, he'd spend much of those hours on my lap or crammed between me and the back of my chair. And at bedtime, he'd follow us upstairs and start the night cuddled under my arm. Mark and I had an ongoing argument–mostly playful–about which of us Festus preferred.

My SIL, Lynn, would always include news about Festus when we talked. She'd seek him out, pick him up and put him in my arms when we visited. A few years ago when he was hit by a car, she called me to tell me and kept me posted on his healing progress. She always referred to me as his first mom.

All silly, friendly, family stuff without any particular meaning.

And that's where the power is. Festus bound us in an easy friendly love during a time when we had little access to the deeper family love that is our true connection. He was safe, silly and soft. In the last three years as our sibling bond found new light and strength, he became our mascot and our common pleasure.

We are joined this week in our sadness, in identically shaped heart-tears that will always hold the memories of a simple black and white cat whose presence brought healing and love and laughter. No being could hope for a larger life than that.

18 comments:

Janna Qualman said...

Aw, Festus. Sometimes it amazes me how largely a small animal can affect lives.

She Writes said...

I hate losing an animal I love. Sorry to hear he is gone, though he lived a LONG life.

Carrie Wilson Link said...

I'm sorry about your loss! I love this, "We are joined this week in our sadness, in identically shaped heart-tears that will always hold the memories of a simple black and white cat whose presence brought healing and love and laughter. No being could hope for a larger life than that."

Yes, you're right, he was the mascot!

Jerri said...

"No being could hope for a larger life than that."

Healing, love, and laughter, wrapped in black and white fur. Quite a gift.

Love.

patti said...

I am so sorry. I feel your pain.

Blessings,
Patti

kario said...

Cats are such magical creatures! I love that you and your family shared Festus and he put himself squarely in the center of you all.

Love.

Suzy said...

Their souls are like no other.

I am sorry for your loss.

Love you

Suzy

Wanda said...

Farewell, Festus. Thanks for the grace you brought to the planet...to this family.

I have found that often an animal will come for a purpose. When that purpose is fulfilled, the animal moves on. Sounds like Festus's job was done. Good job, buddy.

I am sorry for your loss...and glad for your connection.

fullsoulahead.com said...

What a powerful boy.

Love.

Rick said...

I'm so sorry for your loss, Deb. I have two cats myself, and I'd like to have them around for a long time, since they are my writing partners and friends.

Deb said...

I'm sorry Deb, but it is lovely to hear about how he helped keep your family together through difficult times.

Jessica Nelson said...

Ooh, I'm sorry. What a sweet cat, and it's true about little things bringing people together.

Kathryn Magendie said...

Sweet sweet Festus...I'm sorry to hear about the loss of such a good friend *hug*

Gammary said...

"He was safe, silly and soft. " my favorite line. It is so loving and a powerful eulogy (sp?) for such a wonderful pet/friend/family link.

Sweet and sweetness...
Love,
Mary

Journaling Woman said...

This hurts. Also brings back feelings of loss. Sorry for those who loved Festus.

Midlife Jobhunter said...

"a simple black and white cat whose presence brought healing and love and laughter. No being could hope for a larger life than that."

Oh, so sweet.

M said...

Beautifully poetic. I already miss him and know that I will absently search for him the next time I'm at Geoff's. I think a little part of all of us who knew and loved Festus is gone...save for the wonderful memories.

Love
Mark

Amber said...

Love.

:)