Saturday, December 20, 2008

I touched an angel, kissed an artist, and buried my child

My baby boy you were the sweetest of all my children. A loving fraternal feline to Jean Pierre and Mon Cherie, you played and ate alongside your brother and sister like normal siblings. You also dutifully served as their playtoy and mercifully withstood Mon Cherie's and Jean Pierre's domineering habitual acts. Your patience and tolerance is admired--if only humans had an ounce of your virtues.

Pepe Francois, Winter Bear, and Jean Pierre, Christmas 2006

Mon Francois, you were my white angel who never complained, never demanded. You followed me from room to room when Mama Liz (grandmother, a non-cat person) was absent, like a guardian angel protecting me. You curled up on the printer in the study, you lay at my feet in the bedroom, you stretched like an "arch angel" under the chair where I sat. I am incredibly blessed to have touched an angel, my guardian angel. You gave me so much love by allowing me to pet your head, scratch behind your adorable ears, and caress your long elegant paws and kiss those pink paw pads and matching pink nose. I touched an angel.

My Pepe Francois, you were more exquisite than any famous painting in The Louvre. Your perfect white, long-haired coat, complemented by angelic pink paws and matching pink nose, contrasted by a mesmerizing green eye and blue eye, are the inspiration and drive for artists to paint without pausing, ignoring sleep and food. Only by capturing your essense will artists rest their palette, ease their mind and cease to starve. You graced the cover of more than one Christmas card. You are the artist. A thousand kisses I bestowed on you for praise.

Santa Bear and Pepe Francois, Christmas 2003

Pepe Francois with antler years, Christmas 2007

Pepe Francois in front of fireplace, Thanksgiving 2005

My child, I held you in my arms and wept goodbye to you last night after you passed away. The hole in my heart is too much to bear. I never knew such pain existed. Your white hairs lingering in the home are bittersweet reminders. How I never want to clean this house for fear of losing you forever. Let the remnants of white fur be laden with pixie dust so that I may fly to you. Let me take care of you wherever you are. Take me with you my sweet angel. Please, take me with you for no human possesses your virtues, your spirit, your love all in one. We could all learn from you my baby boy, a young cat.

Remembering my Baby Boy

Last night, my baby boy died unexpectedly. Pepe Francois was the joy of my life. He was only five years old. So young, so full of life, energy, curiosity and love. At the same time he suffered from nerves. A stereotypical, skittish and "scaredy cat", he always hid from strangers. But he knew I was his mother. He knew I loved him and he trusted me. The trust and unconditional love of an animal, a pet is greater than any love.

One day he is happy, healthy and playful, two days later he develops angel's wings and is in cat heaven. Pepe Francois died of unknown causes (although we suspect a heart attack). The pain hurts so much, that a good friend, Adrienne, recommended I remember my baby boy by blogging. What a wonderful idea. I want to remember every habit, sound, feel, experience, and other memories. Blogging is an online journal. Blogging is part of my grieving process.

So where to start? They say dogs think they're humans and cat think they're gods. Perhaps. But Pepe Francois did greet me at the door everyday just like my dog. While he did not lick my face, he approached me with a gentle rub, seeking affection. But I was the one in love.

Mon Cherie & Pepe Francois (as kitten) in May 2003

Pepe Francoise loved to tuck away and hide in small spaces--in my shoe closet inbetween my Jimmy Choos, on the kitchen shelf next to Rachel Ray and in the Christmas tree among the other ornaments. How I miss my roaming adornment.

Pepe Francois, the bird watcher. In my glass enclosed balcony, he would wag his tail and jump mid-air to swat at the birds that flew by outside. Sadly, in my second condo, there were less trees outside the window, which meant less birds. Thanks to feathers on sticks, I waved the plume wand and the excitement and exercise commenced all over again, despite my feeble attempts at whistling like a bird.

Pepe followed in my footsteps in Marketing--as Campaign Manager and he loved boxes. No matter how big or small the box, he somehow managed to fit inside. I recall in December 2003 when he was 9 months old, how he nestled in a Kinkos 8.5 x 11" copy paper box while I was working hard campaigning for my condominium board of directors. Paper, binders, envelopes, campaign documents piled everywhere. Pepe was supervising. Yes even cats get tired on the campaign trail...

Pepe Francois, a food connoisseur. Years later my mom came to live with us. Weekdays, Pepe Francois and Jean Pierre stood in formation outside Mama Liz's (that was her grandmotherly name) bedroom door, patiently waiting for their breakfast server. The minute my mother opened her door (my mother woke up before I did weekdays), the boys turned and ran to their eating bowls and meowed with delight. It was feeding time.

Pepe Francois was no Pepe LePew. Unlike his brother who only used one litter box, clean or not, Pepe Francoise would only urinate in a clean "station". Whether it was his plant covered round litter box, Jean Pierre's litter box or Mon Cherie's wee wee pad, or my white tub, Pepe Francois was instinctively clean and only made his "deposits" in a flushed or untouched spot. Cats are very smart, and Pepe Francois won accolades for Monsieur Clean.

Pepe Francois, more handsome than Elvis. Recently, in the past month, we developed a new routine. Each time I took my dog outside, I would brush her hair (Mon Cherie is a maltese and therefore her layered coat requires regular hair brushing), he would stroll in and give me that look. He wanted his hair combed. Immediately he would start purring and getting frisky. He was inlove with the comb and showed his great affection by releasing clouds of his hair. It did not matter if I combed his hair for five lingering minutes or perform a "quickie" minute comb down so I was not late for work, he was content. Never a complaint. He was happy with what he received, no matter how much or how little.

Candidly, my tears have stopped while I remember every detail about my baby boy and type away on my laptop with my dog cuddled next to me and my other cat nestled between my legs. But my heart is heavy. When will this pain ease? Maybe if I keep blogging without stopping, without sleeping, maybe one day the pain will go away...

Who Said Dogs & Cats Can't Get Along?

Here's a true story about cats and dogs playing together, living together peacefully. Humans could learn a lot from these pets.

Pepe Francoise communicated with a pose and a look. Never demanding but a gentle, pleading look.

The first sign was "assuming the pose" and the place where he sat on his hind legs in position, waiting for permission. Then "the look", those adoring green and blue eyes (one eye was green, one was blue) with head slightly tilted back so he could look directly up to my eyes.

By the front door it meant he wanted to go outside in the hallway to play. Growing up in a condo, I used to schedule playdates with my dog, Mon Cherie, and her best friend Samantha a yorkie (who lived across the street), at least twice a week. Leaving a crack in the front door was an invitation for Jean Pierre and Pepe Francois to come out and play. Jean Pierre, the uncharacteristically, non-shy cat, immediately ran out to play. Pepe Francoise, always timid, paused for several minutes waiting inside the condo but curious-enough at the door. Once the play group was in motion and no other strangers were around, he would peak out, pause again, and then engage in play--running up and down the hallway with his brother, sister (dog) and friend, Samantha, another dog. Yes dogs and cats playing together happily. If only humans could follow this virtuous example of accepting and getting along with people that look different.

After Samantha moved away, every evening Pepe Francois automatically stood at the front door and meowed--he wanted to go out and play in the hallway. Aah, the habits we keep from our childhood. They stay with us forever. Everytime I walk by my front door, a stark white front door, I see a pair of eyes, one blue and one green peering at me.

Today I received a message from Pepe Francois

Tonight, is actually January 1, 2009, a symbolic date for two reasons. First it's a New Year which means new beginnings. It is also the day I received the phone call from the animal hospital letting me know Pepe Francois' ashes were ready. Oh why couldn't this have happened yesterday, in the old year?

I had forgotten my request to have his body cremated independently of all the other deceased animals so that I may keep his cremations as a loving reminder of his short life on earth. When I arrived home, I opened the box and uncovered, in elegant script, a note from Pepe Francois, written on his behalf by Pet Heaven Memorial. It reads:

Do Not Forget Me

During my short stay on this earth
I loved and adored you.
I always in my way sympathized with you
in your sadness and joined with you in your happiness.
If I could have left you a message I would ask,
that you never forget me.
I'd thank you also for your thoughtfulness
in preserving my cremains.

My eyes welled with tears. What a lovely message, a thoughtful touch created by Pet Heaven. Indeed they do a wonderful presentation for remembering a beloved pet. Also enclosed was a brochure on how to cope with such a loss and the different stages. In reading through it, my embarassment was lifted. I was not some "mad cat woman". My pain and suffering were normal for someone who cared for her pet. Pepe Francois was not just an animal, he was my "pet companion". Their website is located here in Miami, Florida.

At the time of his passing, I did not opt for an urn due to additional cost and decided I would use the handsome, white, porcelain, octagonal jar with cupola lid that currently sits on my dresser flanked by pictures of Pepe Francois. It actually resembles a miniature urn. Here is where I will preserve Pepe Francois' ashes which resembles white/gray gritty beach sand. The centerpiece of my dresser is a disguised memorial to my baby boy.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The time has come to adopt another cat

My Pepe Francois. Not a day goes by that I don't think about you. If anything, memories of you interject during my work day, and of course at home. There's a definite change in your brother and sister. First ,and the most notable difference is the weight gain. You were there target and toy that kept them running and in shape. Also, Mon Cherie and Jean Pierre are not as animated without you. Your liveliness kept them guessing and wondering what antics will the little white cat erupt.

But I know you're there watching, like my guardian angel. I still miss you my baby boy but the time has come for me to find a new pet. Not to replace you. No other cat will possess your spirit. No it's time to introduce a little sister, another cat. A lively female that's as frisky as Jean Pierre for his sexual urges and a little sister for Mon Cherie.
So I visit Pet Supermarket, scan the ads, and the Humane Society for a young, female cat that's already spayed and vaccinated. Ideally her coat would be part white with some orange and maybe another color that sets her apart. But she must love dogs and cats.
Good night my sweet boy. Watch over us and can you ask God to do something about Mon Cherie's thyroid so she loses some weight? I miss her girlish figure otherwise she's too heavy to take shopping. Girls love shopping!