Last night, Fiona died peacefully. I will miss her sweet face. She was nearly 18 years old.
I first brought Fiona home to Montague during the October of Niina’s first birthday (that’s how I remember how old she is). Meghan was 2 1/2 years old. I thought Meghan would like having a kitty, but Fiona chased her ankles, and Meghan did NOT like that! Fiona grew out of that phase, and then became the Huntress of the Woodlands and the Keeper of the Hearth. She was quite content until we had the nerve to get another kitty, Sebastian, in the fall of 2000. Sadly, Sebastian disappeared one winter’s day. He was a dear soul.
Ivy the Rascal came to live with us in February 2001, and she soon became Fiona’s tormentor– lying in wait to attack at any opportunity. Fiona would hiss just upon seeing Ivy. Ironically, when the two cats traveled down to North Carolina with Natalie and me in July of 2004, Fiona fared better than Ivy. Ivy stayed curled into a ball in the upstairs hallway for a week while Fiona stood in wonder outside. She was amazed at the sweet, heavy air and noisy cicadas and tree frogs of the South. As an elderly cat, she loved lying in the sun year-round. She rarely ventured off of the porch, but she was visited nearly daily by the postman who (much to my amusement) would have little conversations with her.
Agus beidh go neal,
Mo bha ar bhruinne,
Is mo phadraic bán.
I am weary now
And soon it will be
My scent on the branches
And my strength in the bark.
(from a traditional Irish folksong)
Fiona was losing weight and slowing down. Several days ago, she went outside and disappeared into the woods for the entire day. In the evening, I opened the door to call her in. She sat in the middle of the driveway and turned her head slowly at the sound of my voice. Then, in a manner that appeared to be for my benefit rather than for her own, she slowly walked to the door and entered the house. The next day, she went outside again. At sunset, Ed and I went to look for her. We were returning home when we saw her at the edge of the driveway, her paws muddy. She gave a sorrowful meow, and I gathered her to me and brought her in. I did not let her outside the next day.
Yesterday, after dropping Natalie off at school, I returned home to find Fiona alive, but lying in the litter box. Poor thing, she did not have the strength to get up. I placed her on the Nana Blanket (a soft, pink blanket that I brought home from my Nana’s apartment after her funeral), and set a small statue of St. Francis of Assisi next to her. I asked St. Francis and Nana to watch over her while I went to work. When I came home, she lifted her head and meowed again. I spent the evening with her on my chest as I lay on the couch reading while Natalie did her homework.
At 10:30 p.m., Fiona arched her back and coughed. Her movement scared me, so I wrapped her in the Nana Blanket and set her down on the floor. She coughed several more times and then was still. I was too scared to see if she was dead, and even more scared to see if she was alive. I didn’t want her to suffer anymore. Natalie went to bed, and I camped out on the couch. In the morning, she was clearly dead.
Tonight, we will bury her in the red clay of North Carolina. I will sing to her “Fiona’s Lullabye” (from The Secret of Roan Inish)
Cois a chlé mo, cois a chlé mo
Socair sásta, socair sásta
Little one, little one
Little one, little one
Beside my bosom, beside my bosom
Peacefully serene, peacefully serene