Requiem For A Friend
Is there anything more delicious to the senses
Than stroking that face against mine?
The fine, miniature feel of bone-shape
Finishing in softness of silken ear.
His head under my hand
He sleeps quietly on, until
Seduced by my stroke
While conceding I have loved every one of the cats I’ve owned over the years, my children insist I’ve never been as besotted as I was with Sergeant Milo, a Devon Rex with a coat of chocolate-smoke. It’s true he was allowed to sleep in our bed after breakfast on cold mornings (he hated the cold). And we did make special concessions to his habit of prowling over bench tops (was it fair to enforce new rules when an indulgent first owner had entirely failed to instill kitchen manners in the two years before he was ours?).
His morning routine after making a toilet stop was a dive across the garden for the door to avoid the Murray Magpie - who just might be poised for a Spitfire swoop, all guns blazing - then, a manic dash for a sunny windowsill, slithering across ceramic tiles before gaining purchase on carpet and leaping from sofa, chair and coffee table to land, blinking, with a veil of terylene over his hindquarters. He would turn his head to make sure I was watching and blink twice as if to say, ‘You couldn’t do that in a fit.’
At about 9pm he would leave whatever he was doing at the time to jump onto my lap and snuggle up with his nose hidden in the crook of my arm, or under the curl of his tail, and go to sleep. It was his signal for me to carry him to his bed in the laundry before nocturnal habits kicked in, in which case I was reduced to playing hide and seek and chasing him ‘round and ‘round the house until he deigned to be caught.
Seven days ago Milo was hit by a car. The damage was severe and my husband and I held him as the vet administered the chemical that stilled his generous little heart and turned his amber eyes to glass. It's hard to accept I will never again hear his soft morning meow, or stroke his velvety, chocolate-timtam face. It's hard to avoid the fresh spread of earth under the nectarine tree.
RIP Sergeant Milo.
RIP Sergeant Milo.