Forever, Tora

Nov 23, 2010 by

Forever, Tora










His face had the markings of a tiger, precisely, except that his main color was brown. Thus the woman who took him in as a stray named him Tora. She was Japanese. Tora, actually means “tiger”. Some of us who’ve been around for half a century or more think of the movie “Tora, Tora, Tora” and that it means “kill”, it also means “tiger”, and tiger he was. He never grasped that his claws and teeth hurt. I had him from the time he was about 8 months old. After 12 years as my fur-person friend, he was hit by a car and he is with me no more.

I am doing well. The sadness comes in waves. It seems that one day I feel the loss of my kitty-boy all day long, in the evening it breaks, and then the next day is a good day, until evening, when the next wave hits. I’m rolling with it.

At times it seems odd, or even wrong, that he’s not here, and at other times, it feels like the natural, next phase of my life.

Last evening, I cleared out a hiding place I’d created for him a few weeks ago that would allow him to get at some mice we were hearing. After I made the space for him, it seemed he’d never even gone into it. When I pulled out the little padded blanket I’d made for him and towel that was on top (fleece is too hot for the summer, so I put a towel on it that would make it soft but cool), I learned that he had been using his hiding place when I wasn’t looking. His fur was all over the towel, and a tiny, round sticky thing he picked up from the fields he used to play in, and sometimes sleep in. My plan had been to put it all in the wash. When I discovered his fur on it, I had to smell it. I’m not ready to wash it.

I had a nasty old braided rug that was his scratching place. I hated the darn thing, but if it was at hand, he wouldn’t scratch things I didn’t want him to, so I’ve carried it around through about 6 moves. Yesterday, I looked it over really well, hoping to find a whisker or a toenail. I found a whisker!!!!! The rug is rolled up, and outside, so I don’t have to have it in my room anymore, but I didn’t throw it out yet. Funny things, feelings.

In the bathroom, I have an etegere above the toilet. One of the shelves now contains his paw print given to me by the vet, a whisker, and a toenail I found on the mat out front. It also has the quote from Dr Seuss, ‘Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened,’ one of his stainless steel bowls that I polished up, and a little furry ball with feathers in it that he sometimes played with.

I found a picture of the two of us today, the morning after we moved to New Mexico. I’m sitting in a huge terry cloth bathrobe, my hair is not combed (I look like crap, probably because I felt like crap). I’m meditating on my cushion on the bed. He’s sitting up, his back against mine, as if we’re meditating together. It’s going on the shelf too.

He was such a gift. I felt that he was a healer, and in my life to escort me to a new level. He felt like a shaman. I can’t really imagine that his departure was anything less than perfect timing, even though it hurts like it”s a terrible mistake.

These past months, living out in our little cabin, just the two of us, we got a chance to spend a lot of days hanging out together. I’m so glad for that.

I had a sense that he wasn’t really all that comfortable here. The place is so tiny, and he had trouble finding spots to lie down that I wouldn’t disturb him. I made a lot of effort to work around him, but I could tell he found the situation less than satisfactory. On the other hand, he loved the field out back and he loved all the mice he got to catch. He loved our bed, except for the part that it’s a Murphy bed and I made it go away at times to dance, or exercise. Poor guy! He’d come in to lie down and find his bed gone! The look on his face, I so knew he wasn’t pleased!!! But, there were also the mornings of waking up slowly, lying in bed, with him on my chest, or side, just enjoying each other’s company. The last morning we woke up together was one of those of lying in bed together for a long time before getting up.

When he was at the vet’s office, after the accident, I wasn’t able to spend much time with him because I had a medical procedure scheduled for which I’d completed a grueling preparation just before he was hit. I did long distance Qigong healing work for him. The truth is, I did it for me too, sending him that energy gave me something positive to focus on and spared me from the mess my mind was in. Most of the night I worked for him, periodically I called the vet for a report. In the hospital the next morning, I continued to send him energy, though by then, I knew that in the afternoon I’d be putting him down. I kept telling him that he was going on a very big, very important journey. I promised him that we’d never be apart, and it would be more obvious to him then me, but it was true for both of us.

Late that afternoon I went to the vet’s. They brought my precious Tora to me on a sheep skin mat. We lay down in a private room with a daybed in it. He rested on my arm. I reminded him of some of his antics and the good times we’d had. I thanked him for blessing my life and talked to him more about his journey. After about 45 minutes I asked for the vet to come in and administer the drugs that would separate him from his body. He lay on my arm as he passed.

Through the whole ordeal I’d been focused on getting him where he needed to be. When I walked in the door of the cabin that night, I nearly collapsed with grief. Multiple attempts to find some stable ground underneath me got me to a phone conversation with a dear friend. We talked about Tora, and other things too. When I got off the phone I felt that I could begin the reorganizing of my home required after being away over night. As I went about my tasks, I felt his presence for a moment. Then I said to myself, “Elizabeth, now you must do for yourself what you did for him, tell yourself, over and over and over again that you are never apart, no matter what it looks like. Love is never gone. Love is what we had and will have forever.”

He and I are both doing an intense transition right now, him ‘over there’, me here. Each of us in a new phase of our lives. How wonderful that I get to love him always, and know he loves me back.

Visit Elizabeth Wescott’s website Stepping Stones to Health

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  1. Oh, yes, Rita, these subtle joys of life are so easy to miss. To love forever, even those who are gone, and know we are loved.
    Thank you!

  2. Rita Brunn

    Beautiful thought: “How wonderful that I get to love him always, and know he loves me back.”