Monday, November 15, 2010

Ryker's Last Day

Yit'gadal v'yit'kadash sh'mei raba ....
May His great name be exalted in the world He created...
I just broke down when I saw those words, posted by @danapixie. They are the first line of Kaddish - often called the Mourner's Kaddish.  It's a Jewish tradition to recite this prayer when a loved one passes.
(for those of you who are interested in the content of the prayer, here it is, excerpted from the Orthodox Union:
"the theme of Kaddish is the Greatness of G-d who conducts the entire universe with careful supervision. In this prayer, we also pray for peace - from apparently the only One who can guarantee it - peace between nations, peace between individuals, and peace of mind.  Paradoxically, this is, in fact, the only true comfort in the case of the loss of a loved one. That is, to be able to view the passing of the beloved individual from the perspective that that person's soul was gathered in, so to speak, by the One who had provided it in the first place."  It tends to elicit a deeply emotional reaction when you hear it....)
Our loved one has passed. Quite suddenly, and in the blink of an eye. And, looking back, I have to say that if there had to be a "last day," I have no regrets. Ryker has always slept with us, and I have awakened these past 13 years more often than not with a little brown nose and sleepy blue eyes blinking up at me from a face resting on my pillow, snuggled up close under the covers. I have to say I highly recommend it as a fantastic way to awaken, with a cuddle and a purr, and I will miss it terribly.
Two weeks ago, we returned from a 5-day trip to find that Ryker and Allie - with the help of a cat sitter - had their first uneventful span of time alone. You could see in Ryker's eyes that this time there had been no trauma. (Many thanks to the cat sitter for wearing Allie out by playing with her daily and keeping her from being so bored she resorted to picking on Ryker!)
Ryker, however, did not want to let me out of his sight. He followed me everywhere, and when I sat, would beg to be picked up.  There were several times in the past few weeks where I consciously chose to cuddle with him instead of cleaning the kitchen or some other mundane chore. Something about his intensity spoke to me, and I decided the dishes would just have to wait. I am SO glad I did this!
Ryker has had many favorite pastimes that he's become partial to over the years, and sitting next to me on the bathroom counter while I get ready in the morning is one of them. Yesterday was no exception. I must confess though, that since Allie has joined our home - and she has a peculiar fascination for running water - he has had to share that space with "The Great Grey Menace" as he called her.  It woudl often become comical as Allie ended up shoving her rear end right in Ryker's face while leaning over to get to the water. Ryker's expression of disgust as he shifted out of the way was priceless!
Ryker loved all things warm and got to experience it to the fullest yesterday, from the bathroom space heater to a nice kitchen sunpuddle to the freshly dried (and oh so warm) sheets in the dryer to a nap by the fireplace.  All in one day - what more can a kitty want?
Treats you say? Why he had those too. We'd been concerned over the past month that his interest in his special diet food was waning, so had begun enticing him with warmed canned food and Whiskas Temptations - the only treat that seemed to not cause a flare up of his IBD.  He got both. Quite a few of the Temptations in fact. So much so that when he first fell ill I initially thought it was his IBD, brought on by feeding him too many treats.
We spent several hours outside yesterday afternoon working in the yard, and Ryker asked to join us. He and Allie inspected our work, then Ryker did his usual perimeter sweep, investigating all the smells and ensuring his domicile was properly chin-marked as "his".
Then he and I went inside - me to my laundry and him to his bed on the hearth...or so I thought. I had just taken a load from the dryer when he began calling out to me at the top of his lungs. Because he often does this, just to get me to come in for a cuddle, I hollered back at him, closed the dryer and went in leisurely search of him. Couldn't find him in his usual spots, and he wasn't "talking back" to me in conversation as he normally does - his cries were more sporadic and arbitrary than that - it took me a minute to find him, sprawled under the piano.
I'll leave the details out, but it's utterly heart-wrenching to have your fur-child reaching out to you beseechingly, with eyes frantic to escape the pain. I wish with all my heart I could have "fixed" this last thing he asked of me: "please Momma, make it better!"
That was at 4:30. By 7 PM, CST, he was gone.
One final word: many of you have been “sitting shiva” with us on #RykersPorch. Words cannot express how you have touched our hearts through this act of kindness.  You may not have realized, but the #nipclub honor with the donations for @WaysideWaifs is very much in keeping with shiva.
As one rabbi described shiva, “Every custom of Jewish mourning and comforting has, at its core, the overwhelming motivation to surround those who grieve with a supportive community. [Shiva] places loss and grief in the communal context of family and friends. …A donation to a charity designated by the mourners is an appropriate way to honor the deceased, while comforting those who mourn.”
I can think of no more supportive community than our twitter anipal community, and your offer to donate to @WaysideWaifs in Ryker’s honor does indeed bring us comfort.
Please accept our heartfelt thanks. You guys are wonderful.


  1. I am so sorry you lost your kitty.


  2. Yit'gadal v'yit'kadash sh'mei raba ....
    May His great name be exalted in the world He created...

    Thank you for sharing your lovely Ryker baby with us all. We are all much better kittehs for knowing him and am honored to have him as my dear friend. I shall leave Temptations at the RB's edge. I love them also; hence the bag may be open but will give Ryker most of them. :)

    He was a very lucky cat to have you as his humans. When I look out at the east sky at night, I will look towards the beautiful shining star and will wave to your Ryker. He lives in your heart and all of our hearts forever.

  3. Thank you for sharing this,I know it was hard but..thank you. I lost a cat to IBD, but never lost one this way, he had a good day and loved you so much.Hold onto that-purrs from Bucky

  4. I iz so sorry for your loss an I will miss Ryker. *softpaw* may he run happy an painfree furever over teh rainbow bridge

  5. I found this lovely poem:

    Like The Waves From The Shore
    by Marge Tindal

    I must now ebb
    The time has come
    to sail my oceans

    Rolling away from you
    like the waves from the shore
    rippling out to the vastness of the sea
    that beckons my ship of folly

    I'll not ask you
    to stand the night vigil
    on the shoreline
    of memory

    You are here
    on the beaches of my memory
    even though I drift the tides

    If you should look
    into a starlit night
    and see a reflection of me
    know only that
    I will one day
    come crashing again
    to the shore
    swept homeward
    by the pull
    of the tide

  6. Bless you for having the strength to write this blog. I find it both heart-wrenching and heart-warming at the same time. You were truly blessed with a beautiful kitty (inside and outside) and Ryker was truly blessed to love you and have you take care of him.

  7. Thank you for sharing your beloved Ryker Tyker and his little fur-sister Allie with all of us. I've never laughed at postings as I did at seeing Ryker's antics and his videos were priceless. I can only say that anytime I saw his little face on the timeline, it made me smile. I'm so sorry for your huge loss. Your family gave Ryker an amazing life and that is a powerful and amazing thing. So many hugs to you guys.

  8. Our hearts are breaking right along with yours. You and Ryker have given us so many sweet and funny memories. Thank you so much for sharing your last day. Your sweet boy was truly loved.
    We send you Mi Shebayrach Avoteinu to help heal your heart.

  9. I agree with Mario - you are strong beyond belief. I know this grief too well, and I'm so sorry for your pain. He was just a beautiful little beast and I enjoyed his sass about Allie, and his beautiful face in my Twitter timeline.

    Take care - big hugs to you.

  10. Human2 haz beary leaky eyes. U had, have, will always have, I special furry friend in dat Ryker.

  11. Thank you for sharing this lovely story. I'm so glad he didn't suffer long, and that he had so many beautiful moments in his last few days with you. My heart goes out to you. I know these days of grief are hard.

  12. You are stronger than you know, thank you for posting this. Seeing Ryker and Allie in timeline always made me laugh and smile with their antics, their videos and his tough guy exterior. You are all blessed to have each other and love each other. Many hugs to you and your fambly you gave Ryker and amazing life. My thoughts are with you.

  13. My heart is with you. We will all miss Ryker. Miracles come in small packages and I'm sure his spot on your bed and in your hearts will always be warm.


  14. Thank you so much for sharing this with us, Ryker's friends. He was greatly loved and will be deeply missed. Although I am blessed with 5 furbabies that share our home, I know the pain of losing a beloved cat.May Ryker run free and painless OTRB with my Ty and BlackBaby.

  15. I'm so sorry for your loss. Ryker was dearly loved and he knew it - take some comfort in that. They always leave a hole in your heart when they go, but it does get smaller with time. Wishing you peace and strength during this difficult time.

    I hope this quote by Rumi helps. It's one of my favorites.

    My heart is so small
    it’s almost invisible.
    How can You place
    such big sorrows in it?

    “Look,” He answered,
    “your eyes are even smaller,
    yet they behold the world.”

  16. Hamakom yenachem etchem betoch sha'ar aveilei Zion v'Yerushalayim

  17. Thank you for sharing Ryker's lovely last few days with us. It's nice to know he had so many joys in his life.

  18. HB, thank you so much for posting that beautiful poem - brought tears - it expresses so well how we're feeling right now.

    And PaintDog, thank you, too. Such great sorrows, indeed! What an insightful sentiment.

    JinJin and Pixel - thank you so much! We need a refuah schleimah for our souls - beautiful.

    Jessie - thanks so much - always thought it interesting that this pasuk referenced Hashem as Hamakom - the Place. But that's what we need right now - a place of healing.

    Everyone, honestly...your words are a balm greater than you know. Thank you seems inadequte.

  19. We're so sorry for your loss. It was so nice to hear of Ryker's wonderful last days... thanks for sharing your story. The Mourner's Kaddish made me weepy too when I saw it in DanaPixie's tweet. We do hope you are comforted by knowing you made his life purrrrfect.
    Your pal,
    Cosmo Havanese

  20. We are so sorry for your loss. This is our first visit to your blog (we found it through Pumpkinpuddy's blog). Ryker sounds like he was a very special boy.

    Clarissa & Co (and their meowmie)


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