Inna lillah ilayhi wa inna ilayi rajioon.
A little over two weeks ago, on a Tuesday night I put our pet cat Henry out for a few hours before bedtime only for him never to return. Henry was a pure black British Short Hair X and we named him after our favourite football player Thierry Henry of Arsenal. Henry was nearly 7 months old so was an adolescent cat. In the 5 or so months we had him he had firmly become a part of the family and much loved. My 2 year old daughter, Sumayya, seemed to have a special bond with him, not matter how much she manhandled him and pulled his tail or picked him up, he did no more than paw her away. He was very frisky and very entertaining, chased everything and was very curious.
My two sons Yusef aged 12 and Binyamin aged 9 were also very fond of him and have been very upset and in some ways it is a lesson in life and a lesson in how to deal with grief. Both are very tearful and very sad.
Personally, I am having feelings of guilt. I was trying to “wean” him off the litter tray so that he would go outside. For a few days he had gotten used to going out and doing his business then coming back. But on the night in question I called for him just before going to bed, usually he comes running, but that night nothing. It also snowed that night as well so I was very worried.
Just today a neighbour from across the road knocked on the door, he was very subdued in his tone and immediately I was worried. “Could I have a word?” he said solemnly and making sure my children were out of earshot. I initially thought my kids had gotten in to trouble and then he said that he had heard that our cat was missing and that he had found him but, he was dead in the bushes in his front garden. A very uneasy and empty feeling came over me. He offered to deal with disposing of him but I insisted that I’d like to take a look to make sure it was our cat. Part of me was hoping (quite obviously) that it wasn’t and part of me was sure it was. There he was poor Henry lying under the bushes, lifeless, devoid of the friskiness that we had gotten so used. I was consumed with grief, I did not imagine that a death of a pet could have such an affect on me.
I broke the news to my kids and they would not believe me at first, they thought I was joking but when they saw the expression on my face they relented and burst into tears. They wanted to see Henry but I insisted that they didn’t and told them that Peter, our neighbour, was going to bury him in his back garden. They protested and wanted him buried in our back garden, he was our cat, part of our family why should he be buried in a stranger’s garden? So I dug a hole in our back garden by our apple tree for his final resting place. The neighbour brought Henry over in a box and placed him in his grave. I covered him over and told my kids that this is a lesson in life, everything dies and we should remember the happiness the thing brought us. I placed a few rocks over the grave and then we recited the fatihah.
Henry, we shall miss you.
Here are some recent photos of Henry that my kids took: