Thursday, May 7, 2009

A Ravenseyrie Funeral

Today is a sad day at Ravenseyrie. Our dear friend, Siamese (we say it like its a formal name: Sy Meese) died at 1:15am after an all day vigil yesterday alternating between Kevin and I. His last breath was on Kevin's watch...which is fitting as Kevin is the greater cat person of the two of us.

Siamese has always been prone to being overweight. He had lost weight after moving to the island, but never seemed to lose his saggy belly. In late April, we noticed that saggy belly had ballooned and Siamese seemed to be struggling to pass stools, but in all other ways seemed like himself. After several days of no alteration in the situation, we took him to the veterinarian. They palpated a mass, the diagnosis was lymphoma, they gave little hope for recovery, even if we elected to have the tumor removed.

We brought him home and dedicated ourselves to being especially sweet and doting. The first week after the diagnosis, having seen him defecate, remain active and enjoy his meals, I began to hope that he could grab one of those famous "nine lives" and the cancer would go into a remission and the tumor miraculously dissolve. But...this week, he went downhill day by day, and I knew...this mid-teens stray kitty who adopted us so many years ago was fixing to leave us now.

He gave up eating but decided a bit of water from time to time was okay. Then he eschewed even water, and got promptly weaker almost overnight and soon lost good motor control--and yet, he would still managed to move himself from one favorite spot to another, even managing to climb the cat-ramp leading to the cat-flap in the basement window so that he could go outside.

Siamese, soaking in his last bit of sun yesterday afternoon

He desired to be close to us, remaining a part of each day's usual activities--he wanted things to keep moving even though he wasn't as actively involved. He would purr his appreciation with every light caress and special time of cuddling.

Last night was the first night he conveyed his obvious discomfort, and that was because he couldn't move himself hardly at all and when he did, I expect it hurt, because he would moan. If he refrained from trying to move, he could cope, and so that is what he did. And he meditated more than slept. And soon, when you touched him, you could feel very little energy meeting your hand. His breathing slowed and great long pauses in between the rising and falling of his diaphragm, until finally, the pause was permanent.

The other two cats and the dogs seemed to know that a transformative process was underway, and they would come and sniff him throughout the day. They all were allowed to spend a little time with him after he was gone.

In the morning, we had our funeral.

Kevin carries Siamese's body over to the burial site near where Zorita is grazing

Kevin made a space for Siamese's body in one of the many piles of field stone in the grasslands. We picked one that we could see from the window over our kitchen table. Carefully, so as not to crush him, Kevin arranged the stone cairn, while some funeral attendees stayed nearby.

Kevin lays Siamese into the hole, while Bella and Shelagh watch

"Cats don't belong to people. They belong to places." --Wright Morris

My nieces, the first to feed him and encourage him to give up the stray-cat life, called Siamese, "don Juan". We also referred to him as "Blue Eyes", or just "Meez".

He was the kind of cat that liked to get right behind you, stealthily, and when you of course stepped on him and jumped in panic, he would give a rather humorous "mew!"--it happened so often I think it was his own quirky game.

Siamese especially loved to sleep with Ganja, and Ganja loved to sleep with Siamese

The body has slipped away from us, there will be no more accidental stepping upon him...but the spirit of Siamese has claimed the entire landscape here and beyond the shadowy veil between worlds. He will be missed--he will be remembered. How thankful we are to have known such a friendly, funny and incredibly handsome feline!


leah said...

Oh Lynn and Kevin. I am so sorrry for your loss.Both my husband and myself had Siamese growing up , and we have a soft spot in our hearts for them. He was a beautiful boy.

Kris McCormack said...

My condolences on Siamese's passing. What a blessing that he did not suffer long, and that he was surrounded by his loved ones as he departed this life.

No matter how long we have with these four-leggeds, it is never long enough.


eva said...


the picture of Siamese taking in his last rays of sunshine tugs on my heart. It's as if he knew what would happen and he embraced it with great dignity and inner strength. He passed and went on this journey beyond the bridge without defeat. It creates such a hole when one of our beloved furry creatures is leaving us.

I cannot offer much comfort, but I want to share this poem with you, which invites us into the mysterious in-between life and death where nothing is ever really lost.

With mucch love,

Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s ‘On the Transitory: I-IV’
traslated y Scott Horton

Poems in Terza Rima

On the Transitory

I still feel her breath upon my cheeks
How can it be, that these close days
Are gone, gone for ever, completely passed?

This is a matter that no one fully comprehends,
And it’s far too grim for any complaint:
That everything slips and passes away.

And that my own Ego, limited by nothing,
Slips away from a small child
To me unearthly silent and alien like a dog.

Then: I existed a hundred years ago
And my ancestors, those in the shroud,
Are as related with me as my own hair.

Are as one with me as my own hair.

The hours! In which we stared into
The pale blue of the sea and understood death,
So simply and festively and without dread,

Like small girls, who appear very pale,
With big eyes, and who are always chilly
Silently gazing out into the evening

And know that life is silently flowing out
From their limps drunk with sleep
Into trees and grass garnished with faint smiles

Like a saint who pours out her blood.

We are made of the stuff of dreams,
And thus dreams open their eyes
Like small children under the cherry trees,

From whose crown the pale golden course
Of the full moon lifts up through the great night.
…Not otherwise appear our dreams,

They are there and live as a child, that laughs,
No less large in floating up and down
Than the full moon is, awakened by the crown of trees.

The innermost is open to her weavings;
Like the hands of ghosts in a locked room
They are within us and always have life.

And the three are One: a human, a thing and a dream.

On occasion never-loved women appear
Before us in a dream as small girls
And are unspeakably touching to behold.

As if they had accompanied us on a distant path
Once on an evening
While the tree-tops moved, breathing

And scent descended, and night, and fear
And along the path, our path, the dark one,
By the evening’s light the silent ponds are resplendent

And, mirror of our desire, in dreamlike flashes,
And all softly-spoken words, all breezes
Of the evening air and the first starlight

The souls quake deeply and sisterly
And are sad and filled with the jostle of triumph
In the face of deep apprehension, which the great life

Comprehends, with its magnificence and strength.

–Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Terzinen I-IV: Über Vergänglichkeit (1894) (S.H. transl.)

Annemiek said...

O Lynne, I am so sorry Siamese is gone. I am sure his passing was peaceful with you and Kevin watching over him these last days. I don’t know what else to say you. Although you knew he would not recover, it is always hard to say goodbye when the time comes.

Big hug, Miek

Lynne Gerard said...

Thank you all for your sentiments. We do miss Siamese very much. I'm sure each of you know that bittersweet feeling when you think you see or hear your departed loved one, only to do a double look and realize that there is nothing there but the memory. But what great thing good memories are!

Eva, that was a very moving poem. Thank you for sharing it here.