Heart Critters

We said goodbye to our sweet Tiger today. He went gently and peacefully.

There are animals that come into our homes, our families, and our lives who carve out special places in our hearts. They become family.

Tiger was family.

For those of you who met Tiger, you know. He was a one-of-a-kind, world-traveling, head-butting, always-talking, always-purring, curmudgeonly-muttering, toilet-drinking, chicken-hunting, ever tolerant, affectionate dog-cat.

His name was one of the first words for each for our children–children who would carry Tiger around the house as soon as they were able to walk. (Since Tiger’s weight fluctuated between 14 and 18 lbs, this usually meant holding him under the arms and half-carrying, half-dragging him from place to place.)

Tiger might mutter in protest from time-to-time, but he never bit or scratched the kids. He put up with all their love: being dressed up in scarves and doll clothes, forced to sit for tea parties, and placed into the center of elaborate train track setups where he would tolerantly watch the kids play.

The kids gave him extra love last night and said goodbye this morning.

The title for this post is phrase I am borrowing from my writer-friend Brooke Bolander: heart critter.

Tiger was our heart critter. He was a part of our family for 16 years, and he will never be forgotten.

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Published by Valya

Valya Dudycz Lupescu has been making magic with food and words for more than 20 years, incorporating folklore from her Ukrainian heritage with practices that honor the Earth. She’s a writer, content developer, instructor, and mother of three teenagers. Valya is the author of THE SILENCE OF TREES and the founding editor of CONCLAVE: A Journal of Character. Along with Stephen H. Segal, she is the co-author of FORKING GOOD: An Unofficial Cookbook for Fans of The Good Place and GEEK PARENTING: What Joffrey, Jor-El, Maleficent, and the McFlys Teach Us about Raising a Family (Quirk Books), and co-founder of the Wyrd Words storytelling laboratory. Valya earned her MFA in Writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and her poetry and prose have been published in anthologies and magazines that include, The Year's Best Dark Fantasy & Horror, Kenyon Review, Culture, Gargoyle Magazine, Gone Lawn, Strange Horizons, Mythic Delirium. You can find her on Twitter @valya.

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