Today I learned that my friend was dead.
But a set of unrelated and uncanny events led us to his final resting place, and we claimed the body of Bodhisattva Kinkytail and brought him home for burial, beneath an apricot tree alongside my ancestral shrine.
Bodhi and I had met by chance too.
A sign had been posted on the corkboard in the office building where I worked, declaring boldly: Kittens! Free to a good home. There was a picture of Bodhi, his nose stuck inside a slipper. I told Madelein I wanted to just 'have a look' at the kittens. Nothing more. Just look.
There were five kittens in all. I went straight to Bodhi, and picking him up in one hand, where he fitted so perfectly, I lifted him up to look more closely. That was when he touched noses with me and I turned to Madelein and said, "This one's coming home with us." She laughed. Of course he was. There was no way I was just going to LOOK at kittens. Come on. Get real.
Bodhi's adventurous spirit showed itself really early on. He pounced on anything that moved and was keen to make his way outside, into the world.
He turned out to be a great adventurer and lover of fine organic (rat/mouse/bird) cuisine. He even brought these morsels in for Madelein and I to share. Of course, we declined. He loved nothing more than adventure, finding his way up trees, onto our roof, going on excursions around the neighbourhood.
His spirit, it turns out, was much larger than what his body could contain. It was only after he had left us that we felt how empty the house felt. His spirit took up a room, a house, a garden, a neighbourhood.
There was a magnificent intellect that hid behind his eyes that seemed to hint at something beyond feline. He had a playful, self-assured presence. He was more like an elegant jungle cat than a house cat, although there was always the twinkle of mischief on his face.
He looked so small when we buried him. It seemed impossible that the heart of a tiger could be housed in something that tiny. But it had been.
Indeed, the earthly realm has lost a great spirit, and heaven has gained one.