Saturday, February 19, 2011

Goodnight, Firsa

My very first pet cat was a 12 week old gray tabby kitten. I had gone out to see "Chasing Amy" one night with my then-boyfriend, and we saw kittens in the window of the pet shop across the way (both the theater and the shop are gone now; the times they are a'changin'). I fell in love with a lilac siamese and went back the next day "just to look" some more. The siamese was gone by the next afternoon, but I was started down a path and went back to consider the other kittens. A likely looking gray fluff ball was sleeping ... until they brought her out for me to hold. We walked around the store together for a good long while. There was some wriggling at first, but soon enough she was draped over my shoulder or belly up and purring in the cradle of my arms. Food? Check. Litterbox? Check. Litter? At the grocery store. Kitten? Safely in a cardboard box for the trip back to San Bernardino.
One of my favorite books as a teen was _Tailchaser's Song_ by Tad Williams. One assistant to the hero was a graceful gray fela named Firsa Roofshadow. It was perfect for this dusty colored creature. Within two days she was answering to her name, Firsa, from several rooms away. She always came running at the call and loved to be with me, playing, talking, sleeping or being carried around. Within a month, a ginger kitten joined our family from the strays next door. Here was her Fritti, and they were inseperable for years. Lately their friendship had cooled, but they were great companions when they were small and I was at work most of the day.
I got Firsa when I was 22 years old. She was by my side long after that boyfriend, by my side for tears and pain, for happy times too. Before I was a spinner, before I was a knitter, before I joined renaissance faire, before I ever had a dog, Firsa was there. She was in the garden rolling in the dirt, she was out catching mice and rats and starlings. She caught a baby hummingbird once, and I hand fed it for weeks. After a stern lecture, she stopped wounding birds in my sight and moved on to killing them in the neighbor's shrubbery, where I never caught her. We had fourteen years of adventures and quiet times both, and I can't imagine my life without her in it.
Her beautiful gray and white coat added shades of brown after the first year or so. Every inch of her was a wonder. Her ticked coat, her purple toes & nose, that raccoon tail. I petted every last bit of her tonight when she passed away. I felt her heart race, watched her breathing slow, held her paw almost until the end. I accidently tickled her ear and laughed & cried together when she flicked it. I had forgotten that endearing trait (not as much fun for her, perhaps) and tickled her over and over. I stroked her chin and played with her toes and counted the seconds in between breaths. In meditation one day, the teacher told about a monk who held that the exhale is the most important thing. Ten seconds, fifteen, twenty... each inhale was startling until there were no more.
I have other cats in my life now, but at the moment I would give them all up for another hour with that gray kitten in the pet store... another hour of her jumping on my lap when I am trying to type, another hour of laying on my knitting, another hour of lying near me when I am sad, another hour of chasing her around the garden when I am already late for work, another hour of listening to her "mreh mreh" at me in her sweet little voice.


Tinker said...

so sorry about your kitty. It made me sad and made me think of my 16 year old siamese, Tiki who was a feral that my son begged me to get, I had to put on heavy gloves to retrieve him from the carburator (sp) of an abandoned car, he was a tiny kitten, but ferocious. He became a total "pussy cat" Slept on his back by the refrig in the winter and moved about 5 feet to the AC vent in summer. I never saw him kill anything, and by the way, as with many animals he became MY cat since I had to nurse him when he lost many fights. He died in my arms and I cried for 3 days. Animals make such a place in our hearts. and I feel foryou. Love Pat V

Pickyknitter said...

Thank you Pat for sharing your memories of Tiki. It's good to have friends who understand how close we get to our pets. Hope to see you at knit night some time soon.

Acorn to Oak said...

What a beautiful story of your wonderful friend. I'm so sad from reading it. The loss of such a special kitty can be so hard. My thoughts are with you. Hugs!

Pickyknitter said...

Thank you Cheryl. Give the puppy an extra hug tonight!