The Death of Bilbo Baggins

I am old, Gandalf. I don’t look it, but I am beginning to feel it in my heart of hearts. Well-preserved indeed! Why, I feel all thin, sort of stretched, if you know what I mean: like butter that has been scraped over too much bread. That can’t be right. I need a change, or something.”
―~ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

I wish I was at home in my nice hole by the fire, with the kettle just beginning to sing!”
~ J.R.R. Tolkien

We always sat on the coach at the deck/container garden, I would read and you would keep me company…

There is something terrible about death: that life continues around and beyond it in spite of who or what has died: being who I am, I am familiar with this reality. I wasn’t prepared, however, to deal with its painful manifestation in the shape of the dead of my dear friend, teacher, brother and companion, my 20-year-old cat Bilbo Baggins.

There are too many relations, beings, places we take for granted: we think that because they have been there for so long, they will continue being there forever. And then one day, in a matter of minutes, all that changes…and part of us is shaken, destroyed, waken up…

We adopted Bilbo and his sister (Misty Mountain) from a non-kill shelter 12 years ago, when both were already “senior” cats on their 8-year-olds. They had very distinct personalities: Misty was always elusive and wild but deeply caring and curious, always checking on any move I did in the house.

We preserved Misty’s name as it was and just added “Mountain”, but Bilbo’s original name was “Billy”, a really undeserving name for a cat like him!

Bilbo enjoyed his corner on the sofa, always close to the fire or the window. On Fridays, we watched documentaries, videos or movies together and he was always on my lap. The many Fridays I missed this routine, he was sure to claim in some way or another when I was back from one of my “adventures” in the faraway and unknown world beyond the house door…

Bilbo loved the small garden and was always the first to enjoy the morning sun. He never had an accident and was so polite and gentle that he resembled a real gentleman.

I love travelling and being involved in projects, but I do have a hobbit side: I love coming back to my little home and enjoy the pleasures of a good cup of tea and siting with a colourful throw and my cat to read or just watch the plants grow…that will be no more…

He started getting weak a few weeks back. I thought it was the food and I changed it. Then I noticed he would become really thin and I started to doubt about what to do. I hated the idea of him being treated with invasive exams and medicine that may just extend his life but make it also miserable. I wanted to preserve his pride: until the last minute, he would ask to go outside and do his business in the yard.

The last day (yesterday) he went to his favourite spot in the garden and for the first time he didn’t want me to approach him. He was extremely weak, even when he was still eating and drinking water.

I knew I had to do something when he could barely move from there.

It was the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced: more painful than my childhood experience when I was 10 and a military coup d’état changed the Argentinian social and political landscape: then, we lost everything, from the place we called home to the few clothes, books, toys, our connection to neighbours and friends, schools, jobs.

The losing of Bilbo brought back all those painful memories, first of losing it all and later of exile and being a refugee in an unwelcoming country.

I am not sure why my brain made that connection, but losing him has marked the closing of an entire chapter: I know that when I get home this evening, I will no longer “feel” at home, that I will no longer find peace and pleasure sitting with my son and partner to watch a movie now that Bilbo is not around.

The changes are more profound: some beings are much more than what they look in the surface. As LOTR character, Bilbo the cat had a deeper meaning than what the surface would allow us to see: he was part of my soul, and now he is gone.

The pain is profound and physical as well as spiritual, and like when I lost my grandma (with whom I lived for three years after that coup d’état), I know it will slowly become a memory. It will resurface with a tear or a river on gray days, and then will disappear again, deep inside the confines of my heart.

And that is what makes it worse: knowing that one day, Bilbo will be just a memory in my family members’ hearts: that of a wonderful sweet tiny cat with an unusual bluish-gray and white fur, the most beautiful and clean I’ve ever seen, who enjoyed being petted and would never-ever do something out of character but who from time to time, would have a mysterious adventure, always coming back to sit on my lap…

The good old days when you enjoyed the sun in our small backyard
With your sister Misty and surrounded by plants and flowers, as you always loved it…

 

 

I know I don’t look old, but I’m beginning to feel it in my heart… I need a holiday. A very long holiday. And I don’t expect I shall return.”
~J.R.R. Tolkien

4 thoughts on “The Death of Bilbo Baggins

  1. Dear Sylvia, I imagine wrapping you in my arms and just hugging you for the longest time. Childhood trauma does make the loss of beloved friends who love us unconditionally even more difficult by opening old wounds.

    I still remember Munchkin, a beloved cat who wandered in my door when I lived in LA, and my dear Cookie, a big gentle dog who was with me for 11 years through many moves and transitions. Thinking of them still touches my heart with both sadness and gratitude. They were both dear companions at points in my life when their presence made difficult times bearable.

    I send my love and hugs dear friend. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Carol, work and projects have helped me to focus on something else, but when the evening comes and I don’t see him, or small things like seeing his spot in the garden, the flowers he loved so much, his blanket…make me cry. He taught me so much about so many things that I just now I’m realizing how he was truly a zen master, a soul send by the big Spirit to teach me to slow down and enjoy what’s important…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Our special animal friends are wise teachers. Cookie’s death was almost unbearable for me. I am grateful I adopted little Pinto a month later. Cookie taught me gentleness and patience, something Pinto needed after abuse, abandonment, and multiple placements. I’m not sure he would have found a forever home otherwise, and I doubt that his opera singing gift would have been discovered.

        My heart is with you, dear friend. I had tears in my eyes as I read your beautiful tribute to Bilbo. ❤

        Liked by 1 person

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