Fifteen years ago, a kitten was born in my East London bedroom, in the back of a guitar amp.
Her doting mum was so proud to introduce me to her tiny, blind, squalling baby. That kitten grew up into a beautiful little tigress with huge green eyes, a smoky plume of a tail and a penchant for secrets.
A few days ago, I was with her again as she took her last breaths. My heart was bust open.
By chance, a friend of mine offered me a spare ticket for the opera that evening. I felt I could do with some distraction and beauty, and so I mopped up my face and boarded a train to London.
I sat in the darkness, and was treated to a gorgeous story told by talented singers, musicians and designers. It was about the life of a man, from beginning to to end.
And it struck me that this is what art is for. It offers us a map to help us chart the stories of our own lives – to understand our experiences and the contexts in which we play out our days.
My cat's days were usually filled with simple pleasures... stalking mice, walking atop fences, sleeping in the sun. I'm not sure if she would have got much from watching an opera or looking at a painting. But these things go some way towards helping me to understand my gratitude for her companionship, and finding serenity in letting her move on.
This tiger painting is sold, but if you'd like to have something similar, click below to find out more