Tripping the Same Neural Pathways

Dude and Frankie, 2011

It's been over a year since we said goodbye to Ibit, and Dude has grown into a fine cat who reminds us all a great deal of Ib.

Sweet, Dude.
It took many months for it to not hurt to see Dude and not think of Ibit with the pain of loss, but we've gotten there--gotten to the point where we can see Dude and feel joy that he looks so much like Ib, is the boy's cat like Ib was. It's good. 

We're only five months without my Frankie, though, and our house is filled with pictures of both him and Ib. Their pictures are the first thing I see in the morning and the last I see as I turn out the lights--wonderful pictures with their sweet eyes looking directly into the camera. I feel comforted that the memory of them won't grow dim.

Jackie and Danny are the two brothers we brought in a few days after losing Frankie, and they've been settling in, finding their place in our household and our lives. They're pretty darn comfortable, as you can see, and we all love them dearly. They are sweet boys, and Jackie trips the same neural pathways Frankie did, just as Dude trips the same ones Ibit did. It doesn't stop the grief, or keep us from missing their predecessors, but it soothes it, the love coming naturally and invoking the memory of Frankie and Ib. I think that's a good thing, to be so reminded of those we've loved before, so that it blends into the love we have for those who come new into our lives and make room for themselves, fitting in seamlessly.
Jackie and Danny.

Frankie's ashes have been on the top of the fridge since February, and instead of seeing them there with a pang of heartache, I was touched last night to see Jackie lying next to Frankie, so to speak.

Jackie next to Frankie's ashes, 2012.

 Jackie has made himself at home on my lap, as has Danny from time to time, and looking down at him lying there I find comfort that my lap is once again filled with a giant orange cat.
I take delight in watching Jackie wedge himself onto the window ledge, one of Frankie's favorite spots.

And in watching him steal Rick's chair and play with Rosie.

And stop and wash himself when playtime is over.

No, Jackie can't take Frankie's spot in our hearts, but he (and Danny) can share that spot, just as Dude shares Ib's spot. Joy mixes with the loss, and it is all good. Each kitty snuggle is precious because we know how fast our companions move through our lives, how suddenly they can be taken from us.

Rick and I are in the middle of our lives and have gone through so many beloved pets, and we know that we will have many more companions in the decades ahead, but I think we've learned that there should always be room for a great ginger cat to sit at one's feet, to steal one's chair, and to perch on top of the refrigerator and look down at us, and a grey tabby to warm himself in the sun by the door.

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