Tag: loss of a pet

The Post I Never Wanted to Write

Tortoise Shell Cat Painting by BZTAT
“Slick” Painting by BZTAT

I used to awaken in the middle of the night sometimes, and when I did, I would look over and see Slick sleeping soundly next to me. Sometimes she would be on my pillow, and on chilly nights, she would be under the covers snuggled behind my knees. If not next to me, she would always be somewhere close by.

She’s not there anymore.

After 18 years of being my constant companion, she has left this world and returned to her Creator’s world of spirit.

I am deeply grateful that I was gifted with her presence for so long. Nonetheless, I am really kind of lost without her.

Not the “I’m not able to function” kind of lost. Not the wandering about aimlessly kind of lost.

The “I lost my sweet girl Slick” kind of lost.

Yeah. You know what I am talking about. It is indescribable – only felt.

When a pet leaves us, we try to cheer ourselves with stories of the Rainbow Bridge and other tales of perfect bliss that could come to an animal. Who knows what really happens?

All I know is that there is still a deep connection between human and animal that does not die.

Slick came to me after being rescued from a riverbed where an oil spill had sullied the waters. I imagine that her perfect bliss would somehow involve trees and grass and clean rolling waters.

But the thing she enjoyed the most was having her cheeks and chin scritched. I hope her heaven includes that somehow.

 Rainbow Bridge

When the original Beezie passed on, I found comfort in the many paintings I had created of her through the years. I salved my grief over her loss by painting a wooden bridge and placing it over her grave.

When I lost Bub a year later, I buried him next to the bridge marking Beezie’s grave. Bub was Slick’s best buddy, and was never quite replaced for her by any of the cats in my current brood.

I buried Slick’s body next to the bridge as well. The small cemetery is in Dellroy, OH behind a cabin in which we once lived. Although I do not live there now, my previous landlord has kept it undisturbed, and he welcomed me to bury Slick there.

I don’t know if it makes any real difference, but it does comfort me to know that they are all together again.

I have painted many commemorative pet portraits of animals that have left a hole in their humans’ hearts when they passed away. I always feel a deep responsibility when painting these portraits, because I know how very special it is to keep the memory of that relationship alive.

Now, I have had to take a taste of my own medicine. It is bittersweet, but the painting above, the last one that I painted of Slick while she was still alive, is the most wonderful thing in the world to me.

When I lost Beezie and then Bub, my world was crushed. I did not think I could get over it. What I learned over time was that I got through it, if not over it. New cats in my life did not replace the old ones, but they brought new joy to my world, and they comforted the pain.

Now, I look to the place where Slick used to sleep next to me, and it is empty. My other cats seem to respect that, for now, it should stay that way. But they have found their own places next to me, and  they are bringing much comfort in their own ways.

Slick, I miss you so much my little girl. Brewskie, Okey, Noah and Who do too. We will make it, but you sure made our world wonderful, and it just is not the same without you.

We still love you and we always will.

Now go enjoy your next adventure, and make sure to meet us on the other side when it is our time.


Juniper – A Portrait of Healing

Juniper - black white tuxedo cat pet portrait painting by BZTAT
“Juniper” pet portrait painting by BZTAT
Back in June of this year, my custom pet portrait paintings were featured on the popular Moderncat website. The feature generated considerable interest in my portraits. One inquiry from the feature really touched my heart.
“My amazing cat Juniper was hit by a car and died last week. She was the cutest cat I’ve ever seen and she was my close friend. I’m pretty devastated by the loss and was thinking that one of your paintings would be a nice way to memorialize her.”
The words in the email brought me to tears. The beautiful tuxedo cat Juniper reminded me of my Beezie, and the writer’s feelings of loss reminded me of how I felt when I lost my best friend ever.
Losing a beloved pet is one of the hardest things a pet lover can face. We attach to animals in a uniquely pure and unguarded way, and losing them is like losing the best parts of ourselves.
I know for me, having paintings around that I had created of Beezie was very healing after her loss. When I paint portraits for others after their pets have gone, I feel honored to be a part of the healing process for them.
A BZTAT portrait is not just a painting of an animal. It is a portrait about the relationship that exists between the animal and the human that loves it. In the case of Juniper, it was a very special relationship that was interrupted too soon. She was only 4 years old when she left this world.
Her human liked to garden, and Juniper liked to follow her around the yard, keeping her company. She wore a red collar with a fish shaped tag that had her name. She had many admirers in her neighborhood, but she knew where she was most loved.
I never met this sweet cat, but I felt as though her spirit was with me as I painted her. I thank her for that, because she guided me in painting something very special for her human.
Until we all meet at the Rainbow Bridge someday, may you be at peace dear Juniper. And may your human find solace in remembering you fondly through your portrait.
**Special on Custom Pet Portrait paintings! 10% off the regular cost of Pop Art Style Portraits ordered by 12/7/12.** Shipping costs still apply. Portraits cannot be completed in time for Christmas, but gift certificates can be provided to be given as gifts. Orders bust be paid in advance. Contact BZTAT to order yours!

A Sensitive Soul Gone to Another World

Gray and white tabby cat painting
“Sebastian” Painting by BZTAT

For my latest Okey’s Promise Project, I am using real animals and children as my models. I will be painting 10-12 paintings that represent everyday people and everyday creatures that have a story of resilience and survival.

I chose Sebastian, a gray and white tabby cat from the Kansas City, MO area as a model for a number of reasons. He was a 7 year old kitty who somehow found himself in a homeless pet shelter at a mature age when he worked his way into the heart of Amy, a volunteer.

Sebastian had a sensitive soul, and a sensitive stomach, as it turned out. He survived being homeless and being a harder to place cat. He survived ongoing tummy issues. He wrote about his adventures and the needs of other pets on his blog, and he helped get the word out about adopting harder to place animals.

And he became an amazing companion to Amy and her husband Lee.

Earlier this year, Sebastian survived another huge crisis when Amy and Lee’s apartment burned down. Luckily, he and Dottie, his companion guinea pig, and Amy and Lee, got out safely. But their home and all their things were destroyed. Sebastian was great comfort to Amy and Lee during those trying days.

Sadly, Sebastian, ever the resilient one, was not able to live forever in this world, however. He developed serious health problems last weekend, to which he succumbed last night. He was 9 years old.

My heart goes out to Amy and Lee. Amy and I have become great friends online and in real life. We share a love of animals and we understand how deep that love goes for people like us. I know how dear this creature was to her.

Amy has also been a huge support to me as an artist, and was one of the first people to commission a pet portrait from me. Ironically, that painting was destroyed in the fire, and I will soon be re-painting it for her.

Sebastian was only with Amy and Lee for 2 years, but that was enough time for a beautiful love story to blossom. I believe that the souls of animals live on, and I am certain that this sensitive soul is now in a good place.

Thank you, Sebastian for being the purrfect model. And thank you Amy for sharing his soul with me and so many others.

This painting is not yet complete, as it will eventually have drawings from children pasted into the background. Follow Okey’s Promise: Art for a Cause for further developments with the project.