This blogpost is devoted to my beloved Princess Sappho who died last week from complications of kidney disease which the vet said may have included cancer.
I was broken hearted — extremely — and also feeling a tad foolish for feeling this way. Then just last weekend, I was in Manhattan for a photo conference at the International Center for Photography and on Monday I spent the afternoon at the New York Public Library (on Fifth Ave. with the stone lions in front). Two separate instances occurred — which convinced me that my feelings were real and true and that I should share the story of Princess Sappho.
In the first instance, someone I was talking to at the conference said (in response to hearing about my beloved’s departure) — that she couldn’t hear anymore because “it’s like losing a person.” In the second instance, a sign in front of the Berg rare book collection of the NY Public Library — mentioned that one of the archives of a famous writer from history (I forget his name) included a pussycat paw on a letter opener that he used to remember his beloved pet.
Now I think the latter is absolutely garish and even if I did use a letter opener, I would never do this or suggest it. But the mention of it gave me pause. Often, there is a strong bond between a writer (and others) and her or his pet. If a love between two humans is sacred, then a love between a feline familiar and her or his human is also sacred. (The metaphor continues for dog lovers.)
I am a practicing Buddhist and believe in the concept of energy — and that the energy continues in some form after death — so I have been imagining Princess Sappho (who in life was extremely feisty) prancing around in the sky. But nonetheless I am still extremely sad at losing her.
Princess Sappho came to us nearly five years ago as “Baby Girl” with her brother Felix “Baby Boy” because their father Dan’s fiancé was allergic to cats.
Dan’s young son had chosen the brother and sisters when they were kittens and named them.
When Dan decided to put them up for adoption, our friend the poet Maria Fama sent their picture to us in an e-mail.
[This photo, on the right, was used last year by The Chestnut Hill Local in an article on my teaching and writing. ]
My partner renamed Baby Boy “Felix” (which means happiness in Latin.) The brother had picked Barbara as his person immediately and to my delight, his sister chose me!
When Barbara asked me if I wanted to rename her, I replied that I had always wanted a cat named Sappho. So Sappho it was. But then she started acting like a Princess (for instance, she really didn’t like it –narrowed eyes and flattened ears — when I would pet her brother) so we named her Princess Sappho. She also went by Princess. Barbara gave her nickname of Princess Pi Pi — and sometimes we just called her “Girlie.” She didn’t seem to have a preference for her name — she always came when she was called and she even came when Barbara was calling her brother — sometimes she especially came then. Names didn’t seem to matter to Princess Sappho: she knew we were hers.
One day when we came home from the art museum, Princess was jumping from the bed about four or feet straight up in pursuit of a buzzing fly — which she eventually caught.
For almost the entire five years that she lived with us, Princess Sappho would sleep on my chest or my hip every night.
I have done my best writing in the past four years, with Princess Sappho perched in my lap or sitting beside me.
Farewell Princess Sappho.