As many of you will remember, my cat companion, Brandy, died in April.
She was an international cat of mystery who left a little cat-shaped hole in my heart. I suspect that hole will never completely heal, but I'm OK with that. I'm just now getting to the point where I can start to reach for happy memories of her and not be haunted by the last few breaths she took in my arms.
Brandy's ashes live in a pretty little ceramic urn in front of the TV — that was her favorite spot to sit, especially when we were trying to watch a movie. Next to her urn is a little tin box with a few tufts of her hair and the tip of one of her claws, as well as a glass of clean water.
In life, my demanding little kitty preferred to drink out of human drinkware. Because Mr. Louise and I lived to serve her, and because she had failing kidneys, we were perfectly fine with designating one of our glasses as "Brandy's glass" if that kept her hydrated. A full glass of water perpetually lived on our coffee table BECAUSE THAT'S WHERE SHE LIKED TO DRINK.
This was a common exchange in our home:
"Is this Brandy's glass or my glass over here?"
"Uh...that's Brandy's glass. I broke yours. Use a mug."
Now that Brandy's moved on to that great tuna buffet in the sky (where she sits at the right hand of the Great Kitten in the Sky), I still fill her water glass. I'm not ready not to yet.
Aside from bringing me comfort, and a moment of mindful remembrance every day, I like participating, in a small way, in a mourning custom.
In Chinese funerary and mourning custom, a last meal is often offered to the dead to nourish them on their way into the afterlife. Whether you fully believe in such things or not, it's a gesture of sharing food as you did in life, and more than that, showing that the dead are still cared for and relevant to the living.
I remember doing this with some of my family members. There isn't a funeral or family memorial I've been a party to that hasn't involved the offering of food and drink. I'm not sure exactly where my beliefs fall, but this small gesture to the little cat who meant so much to my husband and me helps me find some daily peace.
So that's what I do for "Ghost Brandy" every day. To the casual observer, this may be kooky, creepy, superstitious stuff, but it's my kooky, creepy, superstitious stuff. Why should we ever apologize for the small comforts that hurt no one, but heal us?
And if I know anything about the animal people in the xo community, lots of you do similar things to remember your pets who have passed. Care to share what you do?
This may end up being another weepy comment section, but maybe they can be happy tears. I've found that commiserating with fellow animal lovers who have loved and lost has helped me find a way through the darkness of this very specific kind of grief.
What are the little ways your remember and/or honor your pet every day? Regularly? Is it based in mourning custom? Belief? Or is it simply something that has meaning to you?
(Also, what do you all think about a semi-regular animal post? A short "Critter Corner"? Because apparently I can only write about "corners.")