Pipette + Homeless cats and feral felines in France


Church (c) Kristin Espinasse
Church in Gigondas, in the Vaucluse region of France.
deuil (duhy - silent "h") noun, masculine

   : mourning, sorrow

porter le deuil = to be in mourning

Listen to my daughter, Jackie, pronounce today's word and expression: Download deuil.mp3 . Download deuil.wav

At the risk of being maladroit, I offer the following, albeit unusual, tribute to our Lily, the rescued kitten we took in last Friday night. She passed away Tuesday morning. Some say that humor influences damaged cells. I hope the same is true for a broken heart.

                                      How to Mourn a Cat

Obsessively replay in your mind all of the things you might have done wrong, to foul up the recovery of a feral, five-week-old kitten: you did not buy a heating pad and so keep her warm enough, you did not sprinkle her with holy water from Lourdes...*

Ask yourself if it is okay to be angry with Le Bon Dieu.* Allow yourself to doubt (DOUBT, damn it!), for how can faith exist without DOUBT?

Hold your stomach and feel the nausea of "No Going Back".

Mutter incessantly, "If only... If only..."

Stick your head out the window and shout "have a nice day... I love you!" to the kids--again and again-as they leave for school.

Regret having asked yourself, when all was fine and furry with the world not 24 hours ago, if you were prepared to spend the next 19 years with a cat, if indeed you were prepared to share your 60th birthday with said cat....

Convince yourself that what you take for granted is taken away from you.

Listen to your husband when he says "It's not your fault".

Park yourself like Lethargy on a big rock out in the potager* and watch how life goes on: the zucchini flowers have grown squash tails, the tomatoes are green, the corn is pushing up, blade by blade. The poppies happen to be withering.

Sit down in the swing chair and taste salty tears. Blow your nose in your shirt.

Look over at Braise-The-Dog and babble to her in choked-up tones.

Feel the urge to turn back time. Listen to Regret's mean militant: Shoulda Coulda Woulda.

Wash the soles of your son's flip-flops after scraping garden mud from them. Forget to set them out to dry; instead put them back on and tread water throughout the empty house.

Refrain from crawling into bed and pulling the covers over your head. Be industrious. Serve the Lord your sorrows by serving others.

Stare into the fridge at remaining baby food that you bought for weak kitten. Resent that the jars are sold in units of two. Know that you won't throw the second jar out anytime soon... but you might give it away?

Decide, once and for all, to get a grip on the depressed feelings; embrace the mystery about how three days with an ailing kitten can feel like a lifetime with a loved one.

Get up off the couch, where you had settled in for a good mope... only to see Kingdom Come in the cloud formations outside the window. You are certain that the sunlight playing off the clouds hints at golden gates. You know she's up there. She'd BETTER be up there!

Practice putting on a happy voice for a telephone call that you have to return.

Stupidly, google "how to mourn a kitten".

Chastise your childish, spoiled self for concentrating all of your sympathy on one little being weighing no more than a wet sock--this, when natural disaster floods the globe with tears.

Remember searching Wet Sock's eyes and reconsidering reincarnation.

Choose a burial cloth among your finest linen (napkins).  Feel pathetic and ashamed that, in the name of being practical, you chose the one that needed mending.

Get angry with your husband (as you stand in the garden before the freshly-turned earth) for tearing up and sniffing in response to your tearing up and sniffing. Set things straight: for proper comforting--damn it!--there must be ONE giver and ONE receiver of empathy.

Grab the shovel, convinced that YOU and only YOU know how to bury a cat with délicatesse. Watch as your husband signals you to halt, reaches down to thoughtfully break up the dirt clumps, and gently sprinkles the earth, and the earth's own, handful by handful. Add your own gentle handfuls in between
hiccups of grief. Gather fallen limbs from the chestnut tree. Form an imperfect cross.

Break all the rules of proper comforting: throw out your arms and embrace your teary-eyed husband.

Make bread, make cake, make soup, make anything bucolic, warm, homey, and loving.

Listen to your husband when he thanks you for lunch, adding, "You do these things with love." (Know that it is the Lily in you that does these things that way.)

Wash your peed-on sheets, poopy robe, and burping blankets - after one little struggling "stink pot" rubbed off on you in more ways than one. Bless her helpless heart.

Hang out to dry a record three-loads-of-laundry-in-one-day. Hold your head high when Husband walks by. When coast is clear, cry your eyes out.

Wash parts of the fridge that only mice can see.

Don't think about mice.

Try to believe your brother-in-law when he says "It's not your fault."

When Braise-the-Dog or Coco-the-Cat complain about this and that and kibbles and bits, refrain from shouting reminders at them about how fortunate they are!

Allow your sister-in-law to assure you that "tu n'y es pour rien".*

Crack open that bottle of holy healing water of Lourdes and sprinkle it over your bleeding heart.

Notice how you are cuddling Braise-The-Dog and Coco-The-Cat once again, after all but ignoring them.

Take comfort, finally, in this:  that a renewed and loving attention to life all around us is Lily's lovely legacy.

Adieu,* Lily, and thank you.

Read the tender story of finding Lily, here:

Lourdes = famous pilgrimage destination, known for its "healing" spring waters from its grotto ; Le Bon Dieu = a.k.a. God; le potager (m) = vegetable garden; tu n'y es pour rien = it's not your fault; Adieu = until we meet again (in Heaven)

~~~~~~~~~~~~In Reading, Film, & More~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Family Under the Bridge: The story of a Parisian tramp, Armand, who finds a ready-made family to live with him under the bridge, was a Newbery Honor book when it was first published more than 30 years ago. Ages 7-11. -Publishers Weekly

Silence of the Sea / Le Silence de la Mer :
This first bilingual edition of France's most enduring wartime novel introduces Vercors's famous tale to a generation without personal experience of World War II who may not be able to read it in its original language. Readers are assisted with a historical and literary introduction, explanatory notes, a glossary of
French terms and a select bibliography.

Learn in Your Car French Complete

Extraordinary Rendition
(Music) Rupa & the April Fishes (Artist) "If Rupa were a movie she would be Amélie meets Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown meets Latcho Drom meets Do the Right Thing. She is an instant cult classic" -San Francisco Weekly

In French Film: King of Hearts: A Scottish soldier is sent to disarm a bomb in a French village that has been evacuated except for the inmates of an insane asylum. He doesn't realize that all his new friends are mentally unstable until he is crowned King.

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


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Polly Adkins

Lily's last moments were in comfort, warmth and love. The God of Animals knew she was coming home, but needed YOU to make her last days sur la terre comfortable.

Jules Greer

Oh My Kristi Darling - how sweet your thoughts always are, you have such a pure heart. I love you Honey. Your thoughts are always so beautiful, and funny, and deep.



Lisa Adams

Absolutely beautiful way to say good bye to Lily. She was soooo cute. She was lucky to have you.

Suzanne Hurst

Votre article, c'est triste! It brought tears to this cat lover, and a reminder that I am in no way prepared to face the end of my 16 year old cat's life. Vive le chat!

s white

I,too,as a cat person read this with a lump in my throat.As Lisa Adams said,Lily was lucky to have you.

edith schmidt


Our adopted Siamese kitty Shadow died recently at age 18. He had diabetes and
kidney failure so it wasn't that surprising
but I still expect to see him sitting on his favorite quilt on the old couch when I
come home after being out for the day. He
was a funky old cat but he did like to sit on my lap. We miss him but don't think we're
ready for another pet at this point in our lives. He's buried in the back yard near Teena our first cat. Hope they are hanging out together in kitty heaven!

Edie from Savannah


We tend to become so desinsitized by the overwhelming numbers of horror stories we see and hear in the media, it takes the visceral pain of grieving for one tiny lost little life to bring us back our humanity and make us feel again. When my kids were little we lost a tiny little adopted kitten that we fed with an eye dropper, because it turned out she had distemper, and my children still occasionally remember and feel the sadness of it...they are in their 50s now.


Over the years, my husband and I have lost several beloved animals, and it never gets easier. Thinking about the Rainbow Bridge helps. I like to think that I will see them all again.




I think some creatures come into our lives, because they simply do not want to die alone; and when they are non-human, we naturally assume otherwise.

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