Thanksgiving, when I was about twelve years old, we were living in Northern California at the time and we received a phone call that my Abuelito Rene had passed. We lived on a depressing, beige Army base and I’ll never forget feeling as if we lived in some mirage, miles away from anything colorful or different (aka Panama, where we had moved from prior). I recall hearing my mom crying in my parents bedroom and feeling incredibly sad for her, I wasn’t that close to my Abuelito, I have fond memories of him but at the time I didn’t experience intense sadness for his passing.
I recall this as my first association of death, I can say that I’m somewhat fortunate that I haven’t experienced the immense loss of a a loved one that I was close to or even the death of a family pet. And for the most part of my life I haven’t known that loss. It changes a person. Well I’m changed, a week ago we buried my cat Stevie.
Stevie was not the prettiest cat, she was rough around the edges. I found her about eight years ago when I first moved to Eastern North Carolina. She was abandoned by someone and being the cat lover I am, I fed her and next thing you know she’s my second cat.
Stevie had feline aids, so her immune system was weak but not her spirit. She was a chatty cat, always talking to me and she LOVED fresh warm water! What a weirdo! I named her of course after my favorite musician, Stevie Nicks. She truly embodied that name, so sweet and loving.
Her passing has given me a new understanding for life and now death, she struggled towards the end to keep food down, she peed everywhere…my studio was a bit stinky due to her accidents. But I realized that we have to care as much for our beloveds near death as we adore them in the beginning. It’s rough but that is what love is. Our American culture doesn’t like to acknowledge death, we tuck it away, move the body and bury them before even giving them one last hug or kiss.
When I found Stevie outside of my studio, I gave her a last pet, cried quite a bit and lit some sage and said a prayer. I thanked her for her love, her sandpaper licks and all our fun conversations.
The decay, the slow movement of and change of life can be slow and almost seem nonexistant but then you look in the mirror or you see your child grow two inches and you’re reminded of the swift passing of time.
Memento Mori is the concept of acknowledging our mortality everyday, knowing that anything could happen and to appreciate all the the precious moments of life. I try to do this at the end of the day, writing in my journal three things I’m grateful for, the reminder of all that I was blessed with.
My jewelry has meaning in this, the Bast necklace I created from a cat skull was to honor that cats life. My cat claw earrings and charms came from Stevie’s discarded cat nail….the things you find can take on a whole new meaning.
Hold your loved ones, your pets and family close. Tell them you love them and hold them dear. If you ever would like to commemorate the life of your familiar, your pet, I am more than happy to help create a custom piece for you. Click the link below to start the conversation.