Remembering Hazel

It has been one year since Hazel, my beloved cat, died at seventeen years of age. Looking back, I think some of my most contented moments were spent in the garden with Hazel. She used to trail after me, picking a warm spot for a nap while I worked nearby. I carried on many a brilliant conversation with her while she dozed off in the sunshine.

Hazel liked to nap right beside my computer (see pic!) I took her presence as a given. Now that she is no longer here, our house feels emptier. Lytton, our big, brown dog looked for Hazel and moped for months after her death.

I wish now that I had spent more time playing and sitting quietly with her in my lap. It doesn’t take much to find ourselves bogged down by the minutae of daily life. Taking time to nurture our relationships and to think about what we truly need can fall by the wayside.

Sometimes filling our lives allows us to avoid confronting issues we have no desire to face. So long as we move from one thing to the next , it is deceptively easy to avoid thinking about what matters to us. When people stop us along the road, we have a multitude of reasons why we cannot take time for reflection or for activities that nourish our souls …

So perhaps gardening is how I am reacquainted with those sometimes neglected parts of me and that is why it plays such a vital role in my life. In the garden, it is as if time slows. I breathe more slowly and I listen with a different ear. My eye is drawn to the intricate changing patterns of the shadows falling across the garden. I can distinguish between the myriad scents of flowers in bloom and I can watch as ants make their determined march across a row of stones.

For those of us whose adult lives have been touched by chronic disease, gardening, too, is a balm for the spirits when our bodies fail to cooperate. Even if ankylosing spondylitis (a form of arthritis) is making life miserable, there is always something that can be done in the garden be it deadheading flowers or reading about a new plant. And I try to remember to :

Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things (Robert Brault).

33 thoughts on “Remembering Hazel

  1. Kylee says:

    Oh, Kate, what a lovely post. I’m feeling your sorrow with you, as I’ve been in your shoes. We had Mimi for 16 years and she left a very large void when we had to have her put to sleep.And gardening IS a balm, even when it makes our already aching body hurt more (fibromyalgia, in my case). The renewing of our spirits through working with and in nature far outweighs any pain it might cause.God Bless You!!

  2. Hayden says:

    a beautiful memory. It was almost a year ago that I, too, lost my elderly cat Clicquot (aged 21). She was so old that I needed to seek her out to spend time with her, mostly she slept and ate lightly.for me, gardening and cooking is a form of meditation, a quiet rhythm of repetitive, well rehearsed motions that brings life and health. I think you’re right, we often fill our lives with clutter because it is easier than being quiet and savoring the moment. Lovely quote by Brault, I’ll remember it. I did some backreading here and enjoy your blog.

  3. bindi says:

    This is a lovely post. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. You sound like you have an artist’s eye when you are in your garden.

  4. Anonymous says:

    A beautiful and poignant post, C. It is so good to have memories like you do, even if sometimes they are bitter-sweet, and you always write with such wonderful feeling…S

  5. healingmagichands says:

    The one I miss is Cio Cio San, a beautiful Manx calico. She supervised me for 12 and a half years, and died of cancer. She is buried outside my window in my gardens, and her marker is a bird bath. Sometimes when I am working I swear I see her flitting past at the corner of my eye. I still miss her, and it has been 11 years since she died. Some furry companions are just very very special.

  6. Tricia says:

    Absolutely beautiful sentiments Kate. I totally agree. We sometimes forget to, forgive the well used line “Stop and Smell the Roses” but it is something that we need to do isn’t it?I love gardening. I think I’m most at peace when I’m puttering away and tending to my plants or even just sitting back and enjoying the view that I and nature have created. What a wonderful feeling. I’m so sorry to hear about Hazel. It does sound like you have fond memories to remember her by and that too is very important.

  7. Rowan says:

    I know how you feel about Hazel, When I was first married we had a black half Siamese kitten, he lived to be 19 years old and even though he’s been gone 16 years now I still miss him and think about him. I agree about gardening being a balm, I can lose myself completely when I’m working in the garden and all my worries fade into the background for a while.

  8. Alyssa says:

    Kate, I was so touched by your post and am sorry about the loss of your sweet companion. Our little dog is buried in the back garden and I think of her often. But, I think ,cats and gardens somehow go together. Cats seem to appreciate them as no dog can. I agree totally about the small things in life being very very important. They add up to the whole. When I garden, I forget, completely, anything that is bothering me. It is very meditative. And growing older, with knee, back, and shoulder problems I can become saddened that I can’t do as much as I used to. But, I realize I am lucky to be able to do whatever I am able. My best to you…

  9. Ki says:

    A wonderful remembrance. It is difficult to forget the great pets we’ve had. Still get a tear in the eye after so many years after their death.

  10. i am the diva says:

    I’m always amazed at the impact our little furry friends have in our lives. I am sorry for your loss, and i know i would be heart broken if i lost Kozmo or Cinda. They’ve become part of our family, whether we like it our not. Happiness is a Warm cat in your lap.

  11. Mary says:

    Kate, this is beautifully worded. Can’t be said better. It’s so true that people rush through their lives without noticing what’s important. And, like you, I wonder if I am guilty of making myself so preoccupied to avoid noticing things that need my attention?Sorry about your kitty. I still remember my pets we’ve lost over the years – even to the point that I have saved their Christmas stockings and they photo tree ornaments are still hung, every year.

  12. Salix Tree says:

    I love the quote at the end, and it’s so true! I have a very old cat, and we enjoy each other’s company still. I know she’s going to go soon, but I don’t want to think too much about it. I was sure she wouldn’t make it through the winter, but she’s still here, and now loves to soak up the sun outside during the day, next to me while I put seeds in pots. Hope she sticks around a few more years.I sympathise with you and your loss of your cat.

  13. Abby Creek Art says:

    Kate, that was a beautiful post. I’m so sorry you’re missing Hazel…I am missing Abby so much and know that I will miss her forever as well. I’m sure that you spent enough time with Hazel and that you gave her so many beautiful moments of feeling cherished and loved.xo

  14. Yolanda Elizabet says:

    Excellent post Kate and very spot on. We are too easily distracted by the little things in life so that we forget to notice the most important ones. I’m glad that you have many good memories of Hazel in your garden and next to the pc. And please try to forgive yourself for not being perfect. We can but try!hugs,Yolanda

  15. Ingrid says:

    A very recognizable post. Both about having to say goodbye to a faithful friend (a dog in my case) and the need of slowing down and being more aware of things at times. The quote in the end is the icing on the cake, and one I am going to write down. It’s perfect.

  16. Gotta Garden says:

    Kate, you have such a beautiful way of saying things. I’m sorry about Hazel; however, I just bet you were a wonderful pet owner to her…and she would have chosen no one else. Thanks for the reminder(s)…they can’t be said often enough…I, too, with everyone else, find and lose myself (lol) in the garden…I do hope you’re doing okay with the arthritis.Take care now.

  17. Sandy says:

    Kate, I loved this post. You are so right about the gardening. It brings it’s own special pleasure that is like nothing else. I recognize your form of arthritis because it was one of the things ruled out when I was first treated for rheumatoid arthritis. We had a little dog for 17 years, and sometimes, I still feel her about. Maybe Hazel is too.I want to say that I really enjoy your blog, thanks for stopping by mine, and leading me back.

  18. Pam Aries says:

    Hi Kate! First..thank you for stopping by my blog!….Reading your post about Hazel touches my heart! I very recently lost one of my Greyhounds. BUT…your rembrance of Hazel brought back memories of my very SPECIAl Cat..Buffet(after Jimmy Buffet, cause I lived right on the beach then!)He was my friend..and EVERYONE loved him! Even professed non-cat people! THank you so much!Please come back and visit!

  19. jodi says:

    Wow. this is one of those, “I wish I’d written that” posts. Beautifully spoken, Kate. Nermal was the best cat in the world, one who picked me out when I was pregnant with my son. He was the first cat that we lost after many years, seven years ago in January, and like so many of you, he’s buried in our garden; along with others we’ve lost since then. I plant shrubs and perennials in memory of these cats and of other dear people (some human, some not) who have died–so our memory garden is always growing and changing–and our friends, feline and other, are always with us. We have nine cats now (we had about that many when Nermal died.) All neutered and needled, most rescues. Each is precious to us, and distinct in personality, and I’m never too busy to stop and be amused by them–or to share a cuddle. They make us laugh, they show us love, they teach us things…and they know more than we do, sometimes. hugs, jodi

  20. chigiy says:

    What a beautiful post. I’m sorry you don’t have Hazel around in body, but it sounds as though she is with you in spirit. People ask me why I love gardening so much. I tell them that it is just plain healing.

  21. Annie in Austin says:

    Hello Kate, It’s a funny thing, isn’t it? That sharing your pain can bring about such reciprocal sharing from your readers? Thank you for this beautifully written post, and the poignant end quote.May the garden continue to be the balm for your spirit.Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  22. Smithereens says:

    I think that you realize you’ve found your true passion! When I read and write, time slows down and I look around with fresh eyes. Thanks for your lovely post, kate!

  23. Verena says:

    Kate, I´m so sorry about your cat Hazel! It seems as if she was something very special for you!I totally agree with you – sometimes we stuck so much in our all-day-life-problems that we don´t have time to concentrate on important things. I see it this week – my grandmum is fighting since three years very brave against breast cancer. And on monday we got the sad message that the girlfriend of my father has breast cancer too! So I understand what you mean with your lines!Greetings, Verena

  24. Kate says:

    Having been a pet owner since birth, I have witnessed the passing of many beloved pets, each one having carved a different spot into my heart, from the dachshund that fiercely protected me as a little girl to the shy black cat who would rush to me whenever I was sad to crawl up on my shoulder and comfort me.Harmon will be 14 this year and has some health problems, but I love him deeply and always allow him in my lap when he wants, yet I know his passing will be agonizing as I have had him since he was a kitten. That is the price we pay with our four legged friends but it will never stop me from offering my heart to them. The power of their unconditional love is an amazing tonic in a world that can systematically wear you down no matter how hard you try to smile through it.

  25. Melsie14 says:

    This post was very beautifully put. That’s exactly how I feel when I have lost something…but in the end the memories are always a great gift they left behind. Can’t wait to read more of your posts!

  26. Kate says:

    I want to say a heartfelt thanks to everyone who left such beautiful and inspiring comments on my post. It was wonderful to realize how the memories of our beloved pets stay with us. Thank goodness that we have our gardens – they are, as mentioned, healing places!

  27. Anonymous says:

    Just discovered your blog today – so sorry about your wee cat. Her pic is lovely. I lost my cat 20 years ago and still miss her now. She was my childhood companion. Now, I befriend cats all over the place! Looking forward to reading more of your postings.Annie

  28. Green thumb says:

    I can feel the way you must be feeling dear Kate. Maternal instincts can really make the loss a very emotional and distressing one but I am sure Hazel would be looking down from up there in the clouds, enjoying your Garden and feeling the love you have for her.I admire your spirit , ankylosing spondylitis could have discouraged you from gardening. I guess we all have our share of woes and worries and God tests the deserving,more than he tests others.

  29. Ottawa Gardener says:

    Hazel is a lovely name for a great gardening friend and companion. We miss our Penny too. She used to help me weed.

  30. Naturegirl says:

    Kate your quote is so true of life!I too am remebering planting not one but 2 of my beloved felines in the garden last year around this time! My Casper was like your Hazel..a big beautiful gentle white giant and Halo was the sweetest little pixie only 2 yrs. when she passed quickly..both from heart problems…broke my heart and you know you NEVER forget them!I now have Babie and Paisly and recently Freddi but when those ~forget-me-nots~ come up in the memory garden..the pain of loss returns.Have a blessed gentle Easter.hugging you NG~Great tribute to Hazel~

  31. Naturegirl says:

    With fresh fallen ~SNOW!!~ it is a comfort to read and look at gardening books and magazines for hope of tomorrows blossoms!sigh..where is Spring..I find with gardening that it is the ~bending up~ that is difficult! Happy Easter!hugs NG

  32. Blackswamp_Girl says:

    Lovely… what a wonderful post, Kate. I’m going to go grab my own pet and take the big fuzzball for a long (if cold today) walk. Before it’s too late.

  33. Nancy J. Bond says:

    Gardening is an elixir for the soul. I’m sorry I am just now discovering your blog, but it will become a regular read from now on. This post really hit home today. 🙂 Thanks.

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