We let Tiny Kitten go on Thursday, less than four months after Bert's death. She, too, was 20.
She was in most ways a Yin counterpart to Bert's Yang: she was as reclusive as Bert was sociable, as neurotic as he was easygoing. She was sparing in her interactions with interlopers (i.e., our friends; indeed, some people we've know for years have really only seen her in pictures), but she was as big a presence as gregarious Bert, in her own kooky way (c.f. Koyaaniscatsi).
Tiny underwent a number of transformations in the time I've known her, from an itty-bitty frightened little thing under the covers to a big-through-the-hips roomy gal who dared to sleep on my chest, to the Empress Dowager barking out demands from her throne, and back to the tiniest kitten in the world, reduced to 1/3 of her peak weight, feeble and confused. The last transition was surprisingly fast, almost too fast for me to realize what was happening. On Thursday I was concerned when we got to the vet that she might still have some fight left in her, but in fact she passed in seconds, without any resistance in her eyes. She was clearly done.
And so in just a few short months a period in our lives has come to a quick close, the era of Bert and Tiny Kitten. We spent much of the weekend disoriented in our own home, unaccustomed to the stillness in the absence of our daily companions. While looking through a stash of old photos, I remembered that, years ago, I used to think of Edmund Waller's Go, Lovely Rose—"Bid her come forth,/ Suffer herself to be desired,/ And not blush so to be admired"—when trying unsuccessfully to coax Tiny out from under the bed so that one or another visitor could become acquainted with her loveliness. Upon re-reading it today, I was reminded of the final stanza, which immediately follows the lines above:
Then die—that she
The common fate of all things rare
May read in thee;
How small a part of time they share
That are so wondrous sweet and fair!
Good night, kittens.