I read yesterday that a creature I would consider a friend passed away. It hit me pretty hard.
Tiger was a constant on 6th Avenue, where I passed walking to work every day. I had seen him for many years, even before I moved to the neighborhood. It did not go unnoticed that we would move so close to him. We were pretty excited about it.
He was almost always around, guarding his turf, or snoozing in the sun, sometimes chasing down baby birds fallen from the nest, or eyeing down a terrier. He had a regal apartment, decked out with beds, hammocks, toys, and food. He had an "upstairs neighbor who sometimes hung out in the window above him. He didn't seem to mind the occasional pigeon sharing his meal. Tiger had his own bench. When he wasn't in front of his opulent abode, he was winding his way to greet you or any passerby (he really liked kids), surveying local construction, or hiding out at one of his other stomping grounds near by.
I would often look for him, and be delighted to turn the corner and see him, perched at eye level, on a trash can cover near some potted flowers. Sometimes I would spy him further up the block in yard with a red Japanese maple, red stones, and a red fence. It was always just like greeting a neighbor you've seen for years. You are happy and surprised at their presence, cheerful to say hello! Tiger, you could tell, felt the same. He'd come out to get a scratch, perhaps trailing behind you for a few houses.
I didn't know Tiger well. I did, in fact, think he was a she for our entire acquaintance. (I also always pictures her name being spelled "Tyger" in a sort of grrrl power way). But he was a staple of my day, my week. He had a distinctively handsome face and a particular white triangle on his nose that you couldn't mistake. He was a fixture in the neighborhood and I am not the only one who will dearly miss him.
In a way, it feels like the universe telling me it's ok to go now. The things I love in Brooklyn are dying and I'm ready to move and move on.