It has been one week since Freya passed away. An emotional week, to say the least. And now it’s Christmas, and it’s just the two of us in a house that feels a little less like a home now. It’s amazing how much of a difference the present of a cat can make.
Those first two days after saying goodbye to Freya were horrible. I bawled my eyes out regularly, felt sick (nauseous, headache, muscle aches, runny nose), and got my period a week early. My body was protesting reality. I missed her so much and everything reminded me of her. Her life was so entangled with mine. Small things, like not leaving plates on the table, or keeping the door open for her, but also her sleeping next to me, coming to me for cuddles, and me taking her outside on my work breaks. There would be no new pictures of her in my camera roll. This was it.
On Sunday, it started to quiet down a bit. Sure, I was still grieving deeply, but the pain was dulling a bit and was more like a dark shroud over everything instead of an acute pain. That morning, I looked out of my bedroom window, and I saw something quite special: a kingfisher. I had never seen one before, so I took a double take and tried to take a picture to make sure. It was a small joy in a difficult time.
On Monday, I had to work again. It went relatively okay, because it occupied my brain and I didn’t have much time to think about my loss. On Tuesday morning, I woke up, feeling Freya sleeping at my feet, but she wasn’t there, of course. And even though that made me sad, it still made me happy in a way to feel her presence, secretly pretending that she wasn’t gone. I found a recording I made of her purring, and listened to it. It brought me joy and sadness at the same time.
Yesterday, I went through my pictures and started creating a collection that will contain all my pictures of Freya and Fiona. Looking back at those pictures was actually quite nice. So many beautiful moments. I felt grateful for that. And a bit guilty that I didn’t feel sad enough and that it had been over a day since I cried for the last time.
I know, grief comes in waves. You have to go with it. Sometimes it hits you hard, and sometimes it seems almost gone. But I also noticed that because of the acuteness of the pain in the first few days, the duller, all-covering shroud of my current grief seems almost like things are back to normal because of the decreased intensity. But if I sit down and really focus on what I’m feeling, it’s not like normal at all. It’s like a baseline of sadness that still allows moments of joy and fun, but that’s undeniably present.
I thought that it would be nice to try and focus on celebrating and honouring Freya’s life. So I’m going to regularly post photos and stories as a tribute, starting today, on Freya and Fiona Friday. So without further ado, here’s the first one. And what better place to start than the very beginning?
Meeting Freya and Fiona
Freya and her sister Fiona were born on April 23rd, 2004. At least, that’s what I decided upon (the people from whom I adopted them didn’t remember the exact date, just that it was late April). I was looking for kittens online back then and found someone who lived relatively close who had a nest of five kittens. This was the picture in the online ad:
I decided to visit them to meet the kittens. I went to their apartment one afternoon when the kittens were a bit over four weeks old. The people were a husband and wife, and they had a small daughter. They had two adult cats who were also the kittens’ parents: the mother was black and white, and the father was red and white.
Fun fact: each kitten is the result of a separate impregnation. Every kitten usually has their own amniotic sac. Often, most or all of the kittens in a nest have different fathers because of that. But in this case, all the kittens had the same dad. True twins, though probably not identical.
The kittens were all dark little balls with some coloured and white spots here and there. The lady told me they were like magic balls, because once in a while, a new bit of colour would pop up as a surprise as they grew. One of the kittens was going to stay with them and the other four were going to be available for adoption.
The parent cats shared the care for the kittens and when the mum went away to eat, the dad would jump in and lie down with the kittens. Very sweet! My heart melted at seeing this happy little family of cats. I picked up one of the kittens, and the lady told me that she was quite a relaxed and friendly kitten. That she was for sure, because she lied down on my hand, started purring, and promptly fell asleep, with her head hanging down from my hand. I fell in love. This kitten was mine. She picked me.
The little girl also showed me the little “cry baby” kitten: one of the other kittens was very anxious when taking her away from her mother. The girl picked her up and the further she took her away, the louder the kitten was mewing. Poor little thing, I wondered how often the girl did that to her.
I asked if I could have the friendly kitten, as well as one of her siblings. They were still so small that it was hard to tell if my kitten had a preference for any of her siblings, and I would prefer her to stay together with her favourite sibling if possible. So we tentatively agreed on one of the other kittens that she seemed to like, a black one.
Those four weeks until the adoption were some of the longest weeks ever. I was so looking forward to bringing my kittens home! In early July, I finally went back, by tram, bringing my newly purchased cat carrier. When I arrived, the lady told me that my preferred kitten was still available, but the little black one was now her daughter’s favourite, so that one would stay. So I had to choose another kitten instead. It wasn’t hard: I decided to adopt the “cry baby”. She went along well with the other kitten, so that was fine.
I walked back to the tram with a carrier containing the most precious treasures I had ever had. The little cry baby kitten was mewing and stressing out, and the relaxed kitten was looking around curiously at first, and fell asleep when we were in the tram.
I hadn’t definitively decided on names yet, because I didn’t know yet which second kitten I would get in the end. But I already knew that the first one would be called Freya. She was so sweet and cuddly, the name seemed appropriate. The second kitten was female too, and in the end I decided on Fiona for her. That name seemed to fit her well.
They seemed to feel at home quite fast, and played together well. Play hard, sleep hard, as kittens do. Back then, I had a pretty bad camera (it would use up two AA batteries in about ten pictures, especially when using the flash, which you really had to when trying to photograph kittens).