Saying goodbye to a beloved, furry friend

My sweet, little mini-cat, Aviendha.

My sweet, little mini-cat, Aviendha.

Yesterday evening I said goodbye to a beloved, furry friend: my 19-year-old cat Aviendha. She lived longer than any Corbin cat ever has which is especially impressive considering she was an eight-pound “runt” though I prefer to call her a mini-cat. Avi’s health had been deteriorating over the past few months and last week it went downhill rather quickly.

I picked her up and pet her yesterday morning and she purred as reliably as ever, but I could tell that her tired body couldn’t keep up with her tireless spirit anymore. When the girls and I returned home from my mother’s house yesterday evening, I found her tiny body on the kitchen floor with her spirit free at last. Upon seeing her, I immediately burst into tears. While I knew she was at peace and safe in the care of my father, she’d been my closest furry friend since I was a teenager and I was never ready to let her go.

I still remember the day I picked out Aviendha. My then boyfriend and I were looking for a kitten and an ad in the paper led us to a house on the outskirts of Rochester, NY. I recall stepping inside the house and being stunned by the sheer volume of Star Trek memorabilia in the house. The walls were literally floor to ceiling Star Trek books, movies, and collectibles. I felt as though Scotty had beamed me to another, somewhat disturbing world. I love Star Trek, but I don’t love it THAT much!

The couple that lived there had several cats and they apparently rescued neighborhood strays, which is where their latest batch of kittens had come from. We went upstairs to the room where the kittens were and I remember sitting down on the floor and waiting to see how the kittens responded to me. The first kitten to come over was an adorable little tortoiseshell calico and she immediately started playing with my shoelaces. That was all I needed to tell me she was my kitten and we took her back home to my parent’s house.

Aviendha is an unusual and difficult to spell name for a cat, but I chose it because at the time, I was reading The Wheel of Time books by Robert Jordan and I loved a feisty female character named Aviendha. I don’t remember much about her now and I stopped reading The Wheel of Time series after Book 4 I believe. Regardless, the name suited her and was shortened to Avi with a nickname of Avigail. When I’d take her to the vet, they’d stumble over trying to pronounce her name, but I never regretted choosing it.

Avi loved to crawl under the covers to stay warm and she was usually purring. Though she loved all humans and spent the last few years sleeping on Jordan’s bed, Avi wasn’t especially fond of other cats. She did bond with my black and white cat Zoey who loved everyone, and most days that pair ran up and down the stairs like crazy animals.

Zoey on the left, Owl on the right.

Zoey on the left, Owl on the right.

Zoey passed in 2009, leaving Avi and Owl, but those two just never learned to get along. Now only Owl is left and while she seems fine being the only cat (she loves snuggling with my pup Jazzmin), my daughters and I are planning to get a new cat after I return from my upcoming New England trip. Owl is a nice cat, but not much of a snuggler and we want another snuggle kitty to keep our hearts and bodies warm this winter.

With a heavy heart, I dug Avi’s grave this morning when the sun finally came out. I’ve lost many cats over the years but this was the first grave I’ve had to dig for one. Thankfully, the ground hadn’t frozen yet, but it wasn’t exactly soft and I soon hit hard clay, which made digging a challenge. I persevered though and dug a hole large enough to fit the box I tucked Avi in last night. The girls made little tokens to bury with her in the form of a felt heart by Jordan and a little card by Jaycie. I put in a clay cat figure I’d painted to match my cat Seamore, a cat Avi grew up with.

Card from Jaycie, felt heart from Jordan, and Seamore figure from me.

Card from Jaycie, felt heart from Jordan, and Seamore figure from me.

I know Avi’s spirit is free and now her body has returned to the earth, but I will forever miss her sweetness and remember how she was always there for me when I needed a snuggle. 

Avi curled up next to me while I worked on Jordan's bed.

Avi curled up next to me while I worked on Jordan’s bed.

Jazzmin Afternoons

Jazzmin standing watch over me.

Jazzmin standing watch over me.

My favorite ways to enjoy autumn are by taking walks with Jazzmin to save caterpillars and by laying my old comforter out in the lawn to soak up the remaining fall scenery and warmth. The past two afternoons have been quite lovely here so Jazz and I have been relaxing in the yard watching the clouds roll by, listening to birds and watching butterflies. Jazzmin mostly listens for chipmunks and squirrels and sniffs the leaves but she will eventually lay with me on the blanket.

Watching and listening to the birds in the autumn is a learning experience. The goldfinches have lost all their bright, yellow and black feathers and are back to their dismal greenish-yellow color. They’re still adorable just not as vibrant. I hear them peeping all day long as they gather in little flocks to prepare for winter. Some of the finches go south and some stay in the area. I leave my bird feeders up year round to make sure they always have a place to find food.

Goldfinches gathered among the bare branches of a black walnut tree.

Goldfinches gathered among the bare branches of a black walnut tree.

Yesterday as I was laying on the blanket I watched two little finches land on the wire above my head. When they first landed they were about two feet apart. They were peeping and chirping at each other and eventually one moved closer to the other. They were soon sitting side by side and they snuck a quick little beak kiss that made me smile. It was almost as if they were saying “I’m looking forward to snuggling with you this winter.” I thought it was a rather sweet gesture.

A sweet pair of goldfinches on the wire.

A sweet pair of goldfinches on the wire.

Today the finches were still flying around in their little flocks but they weren’t my main focus. I spotted a cardinal hopping around in the lilac bush behind my girls’ swingset. He must have been a young male cardinal because it sounded as if he was still learning how to sing their usual “pretty pretty pretty” call. He kept starting it and testing it out but the notes were somewhat choppy and off pitch. I imagine he wants to get it just right before trying to court a lady cardinal. Good thing he has all winter to practice!

There was also a chickadee making quite a ruckus in the hedgerow. I walked over to investigate thinking my cat Owl was bothering him but she was nowhere to be seen. I watched the little chickadee chirp and fuss and hop among the branches and I eventually realized he was eating bugs off the leaves. He was extremely efficient at it and had a great work ethic and I was impressed. Chickadees are my favorite little birds and they’re always the first to find any new feeders I hang up. I hope someday to get one to eat out of my hand but it hasn’t happened yet.

I know how lucky I am that I can relax outside in the sunshine during my work breaks. I missed far too many falls being stuck inside and while I can’t get them back, I can make the most of my Jazzmin afternoons beneath the vast, blue sky.

Jumping from the Height of Luxury

The palace architecture resembled that of King's Chapel in Boston, only magnified 100x!

The palace architecture resembled that of King’s Chapel in Boston, only magnified 100 times!

I had a dream last night that I was in a grand palace. The palace was far too big for my tastes. Grand hallways of polished marble stretched on forever, fine artwork decorated the walls and the furniture was too luxurious and fancy to sit upon. I don’t remember why I was there but I do know Jazzmin was with me and we were both feeling rather lost.

I encountered some former friends while I explored the palace and after talking with them I just wanted out of the place. The friends had moved on with their lives and left me behind but now that they saw me again, they felt the need to brag about how happy they were. How in love they were, how wonderful their lives were, how they had everything they ever wanted. I was wearing jean shorts and a tank top while they were dressed in expensive designer clothes. My yellow mutt and I felt horribly out of place.

I was upset that my former friends were so obviously fulfilled without me in their lives. All I’d ever done was be kind to them and try to give helpful advice and they’d snubbed me for the “love of their life.” They’d tossed me like a dirty rag because I’m the weird girl who spends most of her time writing, walking her dog, listening to birds and watching butterflies. They were much more “fulfilled” spending every conceivable moment with their beloved. I didn’t care how happy they appeared to be because I was certain their words were lies and their whole demeanor just a well-rehearsed performance.

In my efforts to get away from these former friends, Jazz and I became separated. This was horrible for me because Jazz is always stuck to me like my shadow. Somehow one of my ex friends had lured her away from me and I was desperate to find her. I finally found my way out onto a balcony and gulped in the fresh air like a fish gulps in water after being on dry land too long. The luxury and grandeur of the place was suffocating to me and I wanted out!

While standing on the vine-covered balcony, I heard Jazzmin barking above and to the left of me. I looked to find her on a higher nearby balcony poking her head through the marble railing with her tail wagging happily. She was obviously very eager to get to me despite the offer of treats from the person on the balcony with her. As anxious as I was to be reunited with Jazz, I was afraid she was going to try and jump to get to me. No matter how much she loved me, I didn’t think even Jazz could leap that far.

So I shouted at her to wait, that I’d find her. Too late. Jazzmin leapt through the railing across the open expanse and poof! my dream created a balcony between the two of us for her to safely land upon. I was so relieved! She then made the last jump to me and I hugged her and praised her as her tail happily whipped back and forth and she rubbed her head against mine. We both wanted out of that place but had no desire to go back inside.

Looking below me I realized the balcony was now much lower than before so I swung my legs over and jumped down. Jazz squeezed through the railings and hopped down to me and we took off running through the lush, emerald-colored garden overflowing with fountains, flowers and topiaries. I didn’t need those former friends or that grand palace to make me happy. I knew in my dream, as I do in real life, what real love feels like. Genuine kindness, caring and love are luxuries and treasures far greater than all the money in the world.