Friday, 7 December 2012

Mammals



My cat died last summer. He had been sick for a year, more or less, but had a good prognosis so when the situation took a turn for the worse it all was quite sudden and unexpected.
I always thought I’d make a big post when this happened but here I am, writing about it many months later. I remember, though not verbatim, how in King Lear Cordelia says that if she felt less intensely, she could speak about her love for her father more easily. I’ve always felt identified with those words.

You see, the good thing about animals is that you don’t have to talk about feelings. You don’t have to talk at all – even though that didn’t stop me from doing silly talk to Nino. In these last 3 years I’ve lost people I deeply cared about – real and metaphorical deaths – but the absence that hurts me more is that of my cat. I miss his constant and quiet presence, his feline calmness. I miss the smell and softness of his fur. His purrs. I miss his friendship, for he was that, my best friend.

I miss this type of friendship, of wordless communication. The relationship with our animals is pure and simple love, unadulterated feeling, untainted by human expectations or obligations. Mammals interacting with each other.
Very often, relationships exhaust me. I’m a classic introvert, I need my own space, my alone time. This can be a couple of days or a month. This doesn’t mean I don’t care about my loved ones but there are many ways of loving, all having the same result but I can understand how some people might feel hurt or confused. I’m also liable to those feelings myself, I’m much more sensitive than what I’d like to admit.
This is why I feel at home with animals. You can love and respect each other while you’re peacefully ignoring the other.
Also, animals don’t give a shit. They don’t care if those shoes you’re wearing are new and cost you a small fortune but will lay down in bed with you when you feel sick, tired and everything around you seems to be collapsing. They might wake you up in the middle of the night and still you love them because you love them. They only want a carer, a bowl of food and a roof. They won’t be with us for long and yet we jump into these relationships because that kind of love won’t hurt us, won’t make us feel raw or vulnerable. Your pet doesn’t expect an anniversary dinner. You don’t welcome a pet into your life thinking “Ah, at last I have my mini-me” or “Now I feel whole”. When you introduce an animal into your life, you end up realising you had been complete your whole life. And that you could love selflessly, no matter how much it hurts. Love for love’s sake.

I learned a lot about myself through Nino’s life, but also through his death. The moment that remains in my head is the night we took him to the vet to put him down. He had been hiding the whole day; it was painfully obvious he could no longer fight so the decision had to be made. I expected him to be silent and passive when we took him but instead he surprised me by meowing really loudly, just like any other trip to the vet. It was as if he was telling us “My body might be broken but my spirit is whole.  I am me, I’ll always be me, and nothing is going to change that. I am ready for the next thing.” Indeed, the only calm mammal in the vet’s surgery that night was Nino. It was as if he knew his end was near and that’s how things were meant to be.

Or maybe this is just wishful thinking from my part.

6 comments:

  1. Roland Barthes said "... once again I realize how difficult it is to talk about what one loves. What is there to say about except: *I love it*, and to keep on saying it?"

    I'm very sorry for your loss, Lou.

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    1. What a perfect comment. Really. I've been thinking long and hard how to respond but in the end you realise that, no matter how much they mean to me, words sometimes won't do, they are useless. I very often find myself ranting as a lunatic when confronted with things I hate, as if I had kissed Blarney Stone but I find uncapable expressing how much I love someone or how much I enjoy certain things. Silence is golden in many senses.
      And thanks for your sympathy, I know you've been through a similar experience this year.

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  2. <3 for practical resons I can't have a cat or a dog but I always thought it was an amazing kind of love, selfless in a way nothing else is.... I'm really sorry you lost him.

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    1. Thank you Nit, I really appreciate it and you're right. I've lost many people I loved dearly due to illnesses but my cat had been my constant companion for 10 years, only my parents have more presence in my life than that, he was friend and family to me and I (my whole family, really) miss him terribly.

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  3. aw, this made me well up. i'm so sorry about nino. i'm a firm believer that when a pet passes the grief and loss is just as equivalent if were to have been a person. i can't even think of my dog dying someday so my heart goes out to you!

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    1. Thanks Krystal! Of course I agree with you. My dad didn't cry when my grandpa passed away; this was the first time I saw him cry, several times in fact. It's always too soon when it comes to our animals. The only thing we can do is love them and be reassured that, when they are gone, we gave them the best and happiest lives.

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