Tiger, 1997-2013

Tiger, 1997-2013

Sometime soon I will tell you about our family trip to France, courtesy of PW’s sabbatical. I wouldn’t have mentioned it at all, except that for weeks ever since we came back, we often pepper our goodbyes with cheery repetitions of “Merci! Au revoir!” Actually, it sounds more like one word: “Merciaurevoir!” when the shopkeepers in France say it. So that’s how we say it, because we’re so continental and whatnot.

Our family said a “Merciaurevoir!” this afternoon that has been a long time coming. Our last cat standing, the beautiful and sweet Tiger, lost his soul mate in January, when we had to put down our 10-year-old golden retriever, Lucy. Ever since then, he’s had a steadily dwindling interest in food. For the last two months, he’s eaten only in plain yogurt. He stopped eating anything three days ago.

Tiger and Lucy were inseparable.

Tiger and Lucy were inseparable.

Our amazing and sweet veterinarian, Jake, came to our house. Tiger hated going to the vet’s office. Jake made us laugh with stories of an old black lab he had who, in her last weeks, would eat only Cheez-its. Jake gently wiped Tiger’s eyes and face, saying, “Let’s get you cleaned up, mister.” Then Jake conducted an incredibly compassionate euthanasia, which was as deeply comforting as it was shatteringly heartbreaking. When Jake left the house, he told PW, “You made the right decision. It was time.” This was a great thing to hear, considering that for the past couple of weeks we have spent time every day asking ourselves if today is the day.

Sweet Tiger feet, at peace.

Sweet Tiger feet, at peace.

We buried Tiger in the back yard, next to where we buried his litter mate Zoe, after she died suddenly two winters ago. We eased Tiger’s emaciated body into the hole and then we took turns reading verses of this poem:

Let Evening Come, by Jane Kenyon
Let the light of late afternoon
shine through chinks in the barn, moving
up the bales as the sun moves down.

Let the cricket take up chafing
as a woman takes up her needles
and her yarn. Let evening come.

Let dew collect on the hoe abandoned
in long grass. Let the stars appear
and the moon disclose her silver horn.

Let the fox go back to its sandy den.
Let the wind die down. Let the shed
go black inside. Let evening come.

To the bottle in the ditch, to the scoop
in the oats, to air in the lung
let evening come.

Let it come, as it will, and don’t
be afraid. [Love] does not leave us
comfortless, so let evening come.

Then GForce tore open a hole in the plastic bag that has held Lucy’s ashes since January. Then PW, Lulu, GForce and I each took turns sprinkling fistfuls of Lucy’s ashes onto Tiger’s body. Then while I shoveled dirt over our beloved cat and dog, PW read this poem while we all cried:

Final Notations, by Adrienne Rich

it will not be simple, it will not be long
it will take little time, it will take all your thought
it will take all your heart, it will take all your breath
it will be short, it will not be simple

it will touch through your ribs, it will take all your heart
it will not be long, it will occupy your thought
as a city is occupied, as a bed is occupied
it will take all your flesh, it will not be simple

You are coming into us who cannot withstand you
you are coming into us who never wanted to withstand you
you are taking parts of us into places never planned
you are going far away with pieces of our lives

it will be short, it will take all your breath
it will not be simple, it will become your will

Merciaurevoir, Tiger.

Merciaurevoir, Tiger. Merci. Merci. Au revoir.

15 responses to “Merciaurevoir

  1. Love love love….a thousand times love and hugs and tears.

  2. A lovely piece, Joy. I am so sorry to hear about Tiger – as I was to hear about Lucy. Sweet animals, and we were blessed in your sharing of them.

  3. I have the urge to say the Kaddish. Very sorry for your loss of your animals.

  4. Just more tears. Thank you.

  5. A beautiful post that expressed your loss & the love for your extended family of animals. It’s a brutal pact we make with our pets, take their love & everything else they give us daily & for that we have to decide, “Is today the day?” All our sympathy to you, Pam & Grace.

  6. Tiger and Lucy remind me of those old married couples where one doesn’t long outlive the other. So glad you made this call, so glad you let Tiger go in such peace and dignity. Love you Joybells.

  7. Strength and peace to you all.

  8. Joy, so sorry to hear about your sweet cat. It is so amazing how they are family to us and we love them sooo much. I know your house will feel empty and times you will feel like you see them around the corner or you might hear them. I know I did when we had to put Scooter our cat down in 2005 and Sadie this past April. They will be forever in our hearts. Hugs to you Joy. Love Ya, Susie

  9. Michael Beattie

    Thank you for your beautiful post. How sad to lose to beloved pets this year. Hugs to you and PW.

  10. Hugs to you all, so sorry to read this news.

  11. That first picture of Tiger had me laughing, and like the rest of the folks here, I was in tears by the end. A life well-lived, full of good care and love from you and Pam and your girls. I wish you all strength and peace in your time of grieving.

  12. Richard Howard

    Thanks, Joy, for your moving tribute to Tiger and your account of his burial ceremony. You must be helping many people to handle awful losses with courage and equanimity. Thanks, Tiger, for easing Lucy from this realm to whatever awaits. You convince me: something worthwhile awaits the whole of creation.

  13. Lovely, and so, so sorry for your loss.

  14. Both poems are just right, and I’m glad to be reminded of the Rich, but only at this remove from Chester’s and Snowbell’s funerals. “You are taking parts of us into places never planned.” Yes.

  15. Heather Kohout

    oh dear, dear all of you.

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