A story to mark the passing of Truffles, a venerable old lady, and Taps, whose life never began…

“Hello, tiny kitten. Who are you?”

The grey cat stopped mid-wash, and lowered her back foot to get a better view of the small, dark creature who had appeared in front of her.

“I don’t know.”

“What do you mean, you don’t know? You must have a name.”

“If I have, I don’t know what it is.”

“Wait a minute…don’t go anywhere…”

The grey cat closed her eyes for a few moments. When she opened them, she peered closely at the tiny kitten.

“There, it seems you do have a name after all. They gave you one just as you were crossing the bridge. The hoomins named you Taps”

“Really, why would they give me a name?”

“Because they’re hoomins. They’re the best of hoomins too. They wanted to give you an identity, so they would remember you, even though they would never know you”

“I wish I could have met some hoomins. I never had the chance. Did you meet any?”

The grey cat closed her eyes once again, and a slow smile spread across her face.

“Oh yes, I knew hoomins…I lived with two special ones, and six other cats. I was known as the quiet one….every group has a quiet one, right? And, for a long time, I was the only female. That meant I represented my brothers at the Circle, asked questions for them, interceded for them, asked Her to keep them safe and to watch over them…it was I who sang to the Moon for all of us and She was good to us in return. I loved my Sammy and that big, benevolent old carpet, Loki, and I watched with pride as my Preston and Tucker grew into handsome, kind and generous young men.

And then, the kittens came. I was a little upset about that at first. We had our lovely, settled family who all respected me and knew that I liked to watch quietly, away from the noise and activity and now, two rambunctious kittens were brought into our midst unannounced, with no manners whatsoever, crashing around, climbing my cat tree without so much as a please-excuse-me…..but, you know, those two kittens were so pure in spirit, so innocent and so loving that I warmed to them in spite of myself. And they were funny…oh, they made me laugh so much…they were like a fresh breeze blowing through the house. Everyone was rejuvenated by their simplicity and their sense of joy. I came to love them, in my way. I loved to watch Grant and Tucker becoming best buddies (such similar personalities), and I would laugh to myself as gentle, patient Loki sighed, rolled his eyes and made room as young Tory squashed herself into his sleeping box to suck on his fur.

It was a pleasant life. The hoomins moved around our world as if it were their own. They were gentle and kind and they knew exactly how much I liked to have my fur ruffled and to be scritched behind the ears. They kept my pink comb for me and laid out the warm blankies and they allowed me to watch, from across the room, the great hoomin pastime of Hockey, in which many hoomins chase a small mouse around a slippery floor with sticks then, when one hoomin catches the mouse, all the others try to eat him. I later had the great pleasure of teaching the rule of this game to Tory, who is now an avid fan, even though she sits far too close to the screen. She says it is the hoomin version of the mysterious red dot, only more violent. That little lady has wisdom beyond her years.

Of course, my favourite time of the day was crunchy time. It was just a little supper snack, but I would listen – quietly, of course, for the rattle of the biscuits on the tin bowls, and Tory and all the boys would dash to the kitchen and I would follow on, with far more dignity, and all the bowls would be in a row against the wall and we would each have our own and we’d line up….the snacks were lovely, but less important than the feeling of safety and companionship I got when we were all together like that…

So anyway, I have taught young Tory all about the Great Circle and how to sing to the Moon and how to keep the boys in line and she will be my successor and I know she will keep them all as safe as I did. Once her first year had passed and she was old enough to take on the responsibilities, I knew it was time to go. I said my thank you’s and told them I loved them in the only way I knew how and I think they understood…”

The little kitten looked wistful. “It sounds wonderful. I wish I had some hoomins….”

“If you didn’t even get a first chance at life, you will be able to go back very soon. That is how it works. You will find your special hoomin. I know it.”

“What about you? What will you do? Will you go back?”

The grey cat rolled onto her side and, stretching out her legs right down to the toes, yawned languidly.

“I expect so, one day. But, for now, I’m going to rest here. I plan to find a nice sunny spot where I can cook all down one side, then another where I can cook all down the other side and I shall enjoy my memories as I bake. Then, when it gets dark, I will lay on my back and count the stars at the same time as I count my blessings….and you know what I plan to do at crunchy time?”

“What?”

“I’m gonna have crunchies…”

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