As I get ready for my trip to Europe, I think how Jesse would climb into my suitcase when I was getting ready for a trip. He would lumber over and climb in and look at me. He wanted me to take me with him.

Jesse was so present. Always. He was never checking his cell phone, ipad, he was never looking away as if thinking of someone or something else. He was steady and only vocal with rich, loud purrs, which started to be less frequent as his heart disease progressed.

I used to talk about him as a feline tractor, his purrs were so loud.

His big beautiful heart just grew to be too big for his body.

He didn’t need witty repartee or active conversation. He seemed fairly content to roll on his back and hold my smelly socks in his paws like a river otter does with a mussel. He came to met me at the door without fail until he could no longer walk without too much pain or exertion.

Jesse loved to eat. Until a year ago he finished every bit of his food as if it was his last meal. He relished it licking his lips and sometime grunting with sheer pleasure. When I let him outside in the yard, he would amble towards the catmint and lie on top of the tender green leaves as if smothering them with his vast orange and white body was somehow symbiotically important. The catmint is flourishing now, so it must have been true. Jesse had very clear expressions and when he really wanted something he could look at me with eyes that seemed so wide that they reminded me of the Disney cartoon eyes jiggling with intention.

Sometimes Jesse would climb his staircase to sit on my lap on the couch and would squeeze my finger with his paw. I would squeeze back and he would squeeze me back again. He didnt’ care how I looked. He loved me no matter what, when I was sick, coughing, when I was lonely and feeling boring, when I was rushing and stressed, and when I came back from a trip. He never made me feel bad for leaving him.

In fact, he welcomed me home and then wanted to lie on my shoes.

He loved his catnip rainbow with an intensity only imaginable for a catnip addict.

He was happy riding in the car, showing great interest in the surroundings and looking calmly out the window.

As a tag team, he and George had it down. George would go outside and bring in the mouse and Jesse would execute it quickly, often scuttling across the floor much faster than seemed possible for his weight.

When I gave him baby food on my finger he would lick it with immeasurable gentleness.

He was always loving rolling from one side to the next and since he could not groom himself below the chest, would start rapidly licking his paw when I would clean him. When I brushed him and voluminous fur would come off in the brush, he would dig into the fur and try to eat it as if it were essential.

He snored.

He purred.

He was so loving.

And so loved.


June10, 2013

About naturestage

Miranda Loud is the Founder and Artistic Director of the non-profit NatureStage based in Waltham, MA, and is an interdisciplinary artist - classical singer/organist/filmmaker/photographer and environmentalist. She writes about the vital need for education to include a more heart-centered approach to studying other species that leads to a sense of stewardship. Naturestage creates works that foster empathy and kinship with other species, using the emotional power of storytelling in different art forms, mainly film, photography and music. She is also a public speaker on art and social change. Her current projects include The One Language Project, Park Dreams, The Elephant Project, and Elephantasia which all use different art forms to encourage a mind shift in how we relate to other species by asking "How would the world be different if we viewed other species as someones instead of somethings? If, instead of drawing lines, we drew circles?"
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