In astronomy, the brightest and most powerful known object is a quasar.
In Quinn’s Corner, the brightest and most powerful object was a delicate-looking cat.
A quasar is believed to be the result of star-clusters colliding. They blaze at the center of active galaxies, with the brightness of one trillion stars. We have not found anything more luminous in the universe.
But by celestial standards, quasars are small. It takes light just a few days to cross from one side to another, a mere intergalactic road trip.
Durin was believed to belong to someone, but that was light years ago. A local resident didn’t intend to be stargazing, but the pale light of a cat caught his eye. Soon the man would see two, three, four wandering stars. A stranger had abandoned them all.
Two were sturdy, “normal,” easily adopted. One was lush, glamorous, all fiery defiance of her feline leukemia virus (FeLV+) diagnosis. One was small, thin, with a crooked ear and eyes that fixed on you for as long as it took to fix you.
This was Durin.
Durin would be Tabby’s Place’s third “double-positive,” assigned a bitter bowl of alphabet soup. Not only did the small cat have feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), but his blood blinked with the far more formidable FeLV. We had not yet raised the roof on Quinn’s Corner, our rebel cathedral for angels kicked off other clouds. But the dream was coming into view, and Durin had come in great need.
A cat with FeLV is believed to be the neediest known feline in our universe. Much is not fully understood about their condition. This is frightening, and fear is the black hole inside the word “no.”
But Tabby’s Place has learned to sit in the dark with fear until the light returns. Tabby’s Place has learned that the light always returns.
To the naked eye, Durin was downright dainty. No smorgasbord could plump his snowy belly, and no ease could dim the intensity in his eyes.
Life for the little cat had become as candy-colored as sunrise. He loved his life in “Suite FeLV,” our temporary solar system for positive stars. He loved people so much, he always appeared to be squinting. Puddled in your lap, his lean arms holding your knees, Durin strove to see who you were inside. He shone his flashlight in quiet corners.
And you let him, because he was the most trustworthy creature on the face of the earth.
Trust became triumph as Quinn’s Corner opened. Our universal best friend would be its inaugural north star. One of the first FeLV+ cats ever to dream in its cubbies and read sonnets to the sun in its solaria, Durin made history. His countenance changed, a smile tugging the corners of his mouth. He was a Founding Father in our little republic of resurrections. He blazed with happiness.
He also got the giggles, to which the only proper response is galloping.
Watching Durin orbit the Quinn’s Corner lobby, leggy and lively under the ellipse, your heart was overcome with light. Drowsing with Durin in your arms, you would wake to find that the center of the universe is kindness. At the first light of your face, or the first sound of your fingers wrapped around the door, Durin would cross the solar system to greet you.
And when he got there, he would gaze so gently into the essence of your being, you knew dawn would come again.
I am one of many who turned to Durin in times of great need. Charles will distract you with laughter, and Sammy will twinkle until you gather the strength to shine. But it was Durin who could constellate into comfort. He listened as long as necessary, even when your story rambled and your tears dappled his stripes. He pulled you from the vortex. He debunked the theory of “alone.” He drew rings of kindness around cats and people alike, gazing lovestruck at Ponce or tucking his head beneath Trifecta‘s as they ate from a single bowl.
No distance was too far to make a friend feel loved.
No friend has ever blazed truer than Durin.
Though he never had the heft or hilarity of neighbors Oram and Tucker, Durin gave us no reason to fear. He was the bright core of the galaxy. He was the nucleus of Quinn’s Corner and our lives. He only looked delicate. We lolled in the luxury of forgetting what flowed in his veins.
This winter, FeLV yanked off the blanket.
Some believe that a slow fade makes loss easier. When you are prepared, the theory goes, you begin to grieve in advance. You start letting go. You make peace. Perhaps this is true on some planets.
Durin’s light did not dim, but his body began the long walk. Anemia and ringworm were glimpses of deeper darkness. We did everything love and medicine could do to keep him comfortable.
Durin squinted hard. He saw how hard his friends were trying. He saw friends everywhere. He saw the light under every hat and hoodie. He saw the light that he could not lose. He tried to tell us that we were not losing him.
We tried to tell him how much we love him. I believe he knew.
I can’t believe he is gone, and I won’t lie and say that we are okay at Tabby’s Place. We are staggering like strangers in our own universe. The eclipse is disorienting, and we don’t know where to turn our eyes.
But Durin is still the nucleus of this active galaxy.
Durin is still directing comets. We find ourselves turning to each other. We find ourselves turning to Trifecta and Charles and Puff and Malawi. We find ourselves turning to a light that only looks delicate.
We have not found anything more luminous in the universe than a small cat with a crooked ear.
We will not stop aching until we take the intergalactic road trip back to his side.
We will carry his light all the days of our lives.
Until we meet again, beloved Durin, thank you for being our healer, our hero, our friend.
Durin lived at the center of so many hearts, we would run out of universe before we spoke all our love. The following is just a selection of reflections from some of Durin’s dearest friends.
Grace, Sanctuary Associate: “My favorite thing was walking into his suite and not immediately seeing him, but then I’d hear the sweetest little chirp, and somehow he had teleported right to my feet, looking up at me with the most perfect little face.”
Allison, Board Member: “What I remember most about Durin is how he would sit next to the window trying to pull all of us over to his room. He just wanted to be with people.”
Tiff, Adoption Counselor & Sanctuary Associate: “I remember his innocent eyes and the way that he just wanted everyone to love him. I’m crying as I try to express how much of a wonderful cat he was, and I am beyond grateful that he was a part of MY life.”
Karina, Director of Volunteers: “Durin was a gentle soul with a heart as big as his whole body. He was always happy to see anyone who entered his room, and whenever I went to visit him he always made me smile. I’ll miss this wonderful boy so much.”
Kitty Le Fey, Board Treasurer & Blogger: “Meeting Durin for the first time was like reuniting with my oldest, bestest friend. Love encapsulated and permeated his entire being. His sweetness was disproportionately enormous compared to his size. His impact was as legendary as his capacity for lap time was unending. Our hearts are hallowed because he will reside there forever.”
Tiana, Sanctuary Associate: “He was an incredibly loving and kind boy. Once he reached out for his hug, he reeled us all in. He was a daily reminder to all of us that there is tons of kindness and gentleness to spare. I am absolutely devastated that we lost him. He was our personal little angel cat, and he touched so many hearts. but I am so glad that we had him with us. I’d like to think that just as much as we gave him the best life we could, that he has saved our lives as much as we saved his. Maybe even more. I love you, buddy. I will forever miss you.”
Sue, Board Chairperson: “Durin was always the consummate gentleman. He was quiet and serene and just so unbelievably kind. The children who come for Paws to Read loved him so much. Everyone always wanted to go in with him to read. There will definitely be some heartbroken little ones next week. Rest now, darling Durin. You were truly loved.”
Pat, Board Member: “He was the first Tabby’s Place resident I got to know. He was so very sweet and patient as Ruth posed us over and over again to get just the right photo for my Board profile. I visited him every time I was at Tabby’s Place and, unless he was having a serious snooze, he always came to greet me. Suite F won’t be the same without him.”
Jonathan, Founder & Executive Director: “There was something so incredibly sweet & gentle about him. When you looked into his eyes, you knew you were connecting with a kindly soul. I’m by no means an optimist (hah), but any universe that could create such a radiant being must be good. I frankly never thought I would feel that way about the universe. I hope the universe appreciates that.”