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I Remember


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I remember the first day we met. You were only two years old, maybe less, I was 13. My babysitter's kids had found you, you were a stray. They had you in their garage and you didn't like the children touching you and crowding around. I wanted to give you solace and take you home but my mother said "No. Your father is out of town and I don't think he would like us to get a cat." I accepted this and didn't argue or fuss, but I turned my head toward the window so she wouldn't see me cry, but she did. She did and she turned around to get you. We took you home and you stayed under the dining room table the rest of the night.

I remember when my parents had you declawed and spayed. Your legs were wrapped in gauze and tape. You were mad at us and I don't think you ever forgave us for it. You were tiny with a long thin body, not as thin as when you left, but healthily trim. Your big yellow-green eyes looking at the world with your bright red collar that went so nicely with your brown and black stripes and the white triangle that started at your forehead and went all the way down to your belly. A soft pink nose and those little white paws that you crossed in front of you like a princess in waiting. You used to perch on top of my wicker bookcase in my room.

I remember playing with you. You liked it when I would run my hand under the covers and let you chase the "mole" beneath the surface. You didn't like to be under the covers, but you would lie on my chest on your stomach, your face looking at mine, and stay there, purring, until you were sure I was asleep, then you would seek out another place or go off in the house to do the mysterious things cats do at night while humans rest. You had a rabbit's foot that I won at a school carnival, a big white one, and you loved to take it in your paws and toss it up in the air before running to attack it again. I would throw the rabbit's foot to the top of the stairs and you would chase it, scrambling up the carpeted steps frantically. You would pick up the rabbit's foot in your tiny mouth and carry it back to me, waiting patiently for me to throw it again.

I remember your hunts. You never caught anything but the moles around our patio, and you couldn't eat them because moles are poisonous, but you would torture them. A pretty lady with a cruel heart. My mom and I would watch you from the bathroom window on some summer nights. You would play with the mole before taking it in your teeth and tossing it, pinwheeling through the air before it landed again and you would run to it to prevent its escape. Sometimes you would push it under you and lay on it, pinning it beneath your body and just lay there with your paws curled under you and your tail swishing back and forth. You would then sit up slowly, searching as you lifted yourself from the brick tiles, and upon finding the little beast, you would begin the dance again; play, fling, catch, smother...until its lifeless body was left by you on the ground for us to dispose of in the morning.

I remember your teeth and claws. I have scars still, from your tempermental nature. If I annoyed you as I petted you, if I touched one of your delicate white paws or that soft belly, you would lash out without warning, grabbing my arm with your impotent front paws and latching on with small, needle sharp teeth and kick with all your might (and you were mighty) at my hands and wrists, tearing the flesh before I could pull away.

I remember when you were poisoned. Our neighbors were poisoning chipmunks, putting the pellets into their holes. We found you, lying still and pathetic, under my window one morning. It was a bright Sunday morning in the summer and the vet was closed so we took you to the emergency vet. We figured out what had happened and took the bottle of poison from the neighbors along with us. They pumped you full of charcoal paste to soak up the poison. You were quiet for a couple of days but you recovered quickly into your old self. We always joked that the only chipmunk you could ever catch had to be poisoned before you could catch and eat him.

I remember how you loved small places. When you were 10 you had gained some weight and a paunch. Your head always looked far too small for your body, like a tick. I moved out of my parents' house and you came with me. My roommate thought you escaped the house one day and I thought you had too. I couldn't find you anywhere. I took a bath that night, after searching the old two story home from top to bottom. As I lay in the tub I heard a noise, only to see a pink nose and white face poke out of a hole in the floorboards no bigger than 3 inches by 4 inches. You squeezed your tiny head and your massive body out of the hole like toothpaste from a tube and looked at me as though there was nothing interesting going on in the whole world.

I remember how you comforted me. You were with me through some of my most tumultuous times; the days of transition between girl and woman. You were there through breakups, heartache, marriage and divorce and beyond. When I cried you would come to me, lay down on the bed beside me and look at me with those beautiful eyes. You always had such beautiful eyes. It was hard, later, to see them glassy when you lost consciousness, and a few hours later as I eased them closed, pupils blown in death. I told you all my troubles, and spoiled you more than the other cats I took in over the years. You were the one I would sneak shrimp home for from a restaurant or party because you loved it so. You always got an extra treat when the other cats weren't looking. As you aged and disliked being bothered by them, I shooed them away from you if they tried to play and you expressed your dissatisfaction with the situation.

I remember how you changed. As you aged you mellowed and lost some of the weight. You didn't bite and disembowel my hands as you did when young, you became an indoor cat when I moved into the city. You began to show some signs of age, slight arthritis, you slept more, you were less feisty. Sometimes you still played though, and you were seen on good days, to dash up the stairs. I moved out of state and you came with me. By then you were 14 and it was fall, and cool, so you rode in the heated cab of the truck with me. You meowed a lot unless I put a finger through the cage of the carrier to pet you. We moved again, back to my parents' home for a while, and that was the year I found out you had a heart murmur. You were 16, but the vet said you were doing remarkably well for a cat your age and that you had good teeth for one your age as well. I always thought, when you went, you would go from heart complications.

I remember your patience. You moved with me again, to a new state and a new home, one with children living in it. You took it well and they respected that you were the cat not to be picked up, the cat to be left alone unless she came to them. In your younger years you would have slashed and bit, but you never hurt them. I had to put a stool by the bed so that you could get up onto the mattress to sleep. You slept with me often, beside my pillow, between me and the nightstand. Though you had always hated to be under the covers, you would paw to be let under now and curl up there between my arm and my side, soaking up my warmth and purring with your head nuzzled into my armpit or draped over my elbow.

I remember when you started to decline. You wouldn't come when it was time for food. At first I had to go the stairs and call to you, then you would come quickly once you had awoken and realized it was breakfast time. After a couple of months I had to go and find you, show you the cat food lid before you would come. A few weeks later I had to find you and carry you down the stairs to your food. Only a week after that you started eating much less, only half of your quarter can of food in the morning and none of the dry food that sat out all day. I took you to the vet and he took samples of your urine and said we would know more when he got the results back. I had a friend who was going to take some blood and the vet said when he got those reults he would know more too. You had a very slight fever 102.8 instead of 102, so he gave me some antibiotics to give you.

I remember your last days. It had been a week since the vet. My friend was unable to draw any blood that Friday because your veins were too poor. I planned to take you to the vet on Monday. You hadn't eaten more than a teaspoon of food that day, and Saturday you didn't eat at all either. You were drinking a lot of water and you would stumble when you walked, sometimes if you fell down you would just stay there, putting your head down and lying there. Your eyes looked a little sunken and darker than usual. Saturday night you tried to get up once or twice from the bed and fell over onto me. I cradled you in my arms as I lay on my back and you lay next to me on the bed, still, too tired and weak to get up. You woke me at about 8:30 Sunday morning. You pushed your legs against me and made a noise. I opened my eyes to see yours wide and pleading, staring into my own. You made another meow with your mouth, the strain contorting your face, but no sound other than a soft breath came out. Then your eyes went glassy and you slumped backward, limp. I thought you had passed away but you were still breathing. I panicked and I cried, and then I called the vet. They said your vet was on call and would call me. He did. He said he could meet me at noon at the clinic.

I remember holding you. I put you on a towel in case you lost control of your bladder, and I sat with you on the deck where I would let you sit in the summertime because I knew you wouldn't try to jump anywhere. It was a clear, blue skied day, February 15th, the air was cold. I wanted you to be able to feel the outside air on your face. Somehow I knew it was your last hours with me. I held you as I sat on the couch, letting the sunlight from the front window fall on your fur. You always liked to lay in patches of sunlight. I wept and I talked to you because I had a feeling you couldn't see me anymore. I stroked your body, able to feel every bone just below the surface. Now and then you would strain or try to meow, but comprehension never came into your eyes after that.

I remember when I took you to the vet. I carried your quiet, emaciated form to the car, wrapped in a towel. I drove to the vet, one hand on your head and told you everything would be okay. Once there, I laid you down on a table in the back and the vet looked you over. I told him what had happened, how you had woken me. He said you were severely dehydrated and that the results of your urinalysis told of kidney failure. He said you were suffering, badly, from the dehydration and the toxins in your body. He said you were in a semi-catatonic state, that when you would attempt to meow it was probably when you were slightly aware and able to respond to the pain you were in. He said there was nothing that could be done for you, you were 19 and most cats are lucky to live to 12.

I remember when you left. I had to make the decision to take your pain from you, to set you free from your decrepit, emaciated, arthritic form. I put my arms around you on the counter and wept into your fur. I had never felt so alone and helpless. I wished you could talk or tell me somehow what you wanted, so I closed my eyes and tried to feel you there. I felt you wanted to go, that you had woken me in the way you did and looked at me so pleadingly, so desperately, because you wanted me to help you rest...to help you die. I told the vet, between sobs, that I didn't want you to suffer. I told him to go ahead and euthanize you. I held your tiny head, which now seemed far too big for your even tinier bony body, and said "I'm here princess, I'm here. Its okay baby, just rest. Just rest." He gave you a sedative and said you were now unconscious and could feel no pain. I knew you could still see somewhere though because when I had my appendix out, just the year before I first met you, I remembered after I had been sedated, the doctor opened my eye to look in with a light. He seemed far away, but I remember seeing him there as I floated in darkness, so I made sure I was in your line of sight and tried to let you know I was with you still. After giving you the barbituate injection, the vet stood and said "she's gone." I cried as he got a box for me to put you in and asked me if I needed to have you cremated or if I was taking you home. I said I was taking you home. I took you home and I couldn't bear to leave you wrapped up, so I put you on the chair in the computer room where you liked to lay, and left your head exposed. I had positioned you how you liked to sleep and closed your blown-pupil eyes, now lifeless and dark. You looked like you were sleeping.

I remember feeling your peace. Though I was wracked with sobs and overflowing with tears, I felt a sense of peace and warmth, and a feeling of thankfulness from you. I could feel you near and I knew I had done what you wanted me to do.

I remember when I put you in the ground. The next day started with a trip to my in-laws who had a bit of land. I had shown you to the other cats, hoping maybe they could accept your absence easier if they had some idea of why you were gone. I rode in the passenger seat, holding you. I had a tee shirt that I had stolen from my dad to use as a nightshirt, and you used to love to sleep on my nightshirts, so I wrapped you in that and then the towel I had carried you to the vet in the day before. I laid my hands on your wrapped shape and wept as we drove. I waited inside while they guys dug a hole. They had tried several places and all were frozen solid. They tried one final place and found the ground as soft as spring mud. When they were done I took you and cradled you in my arms, still wrapped, and carried you the long walk to the back of the property. It was a bitterly cold morning and my tears threatened to freeze on my lashes. I took off the towel and unwrapped the tee shirt just enough to see your face and pet you one last time, knowing it was only your body, but somehow it helped me say goodbye to you as some of my tears fell on your fur. I wrapped you again, laid you in your grave, and stood back, my head down, watching as they filled in the dirt. We put a stick in the ground over your grave until I find a rock I want to put there to mark it.

I remember.

I remember your life and how intricately it mingled with my own. I have known more years with you beside me than without, and I know the pain of losing you will mellow and soften, just as you did as you grew older. I know that I will see you again, and that your tiny but strong spirit is still with me...I can feel you near at times...but I still miss you. When I feed the other cats, I weep, because I am not feeding you. When I lay down at night to sleep, I cry because you are not there to lay beside me and sneak drinks from my glass on the nightstand. I used to have pictures of you, but I cannot find them. I think they were lost in the move.

I remember you were my sweet little girl, you always will be.

And I will always remember.

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First id like to say i am sorry for your loss. and second thank you for your reply. It's funny how ours cats know our deepest secrets and the heartaches we have been through. They are (were) our best friends. WE never seem to have enough time with the ones we love whether is a person or our adoring pets.

Shadow was MY first pet ( & my first cat) on my own, it was me & him..he was my room mate. when i got a 2nd cat, he would kick her butt everytime she came near me.. i had to seperate them for wks he went straight for her throat.

When we met, he was in a cage at a pet store in the heat of the summer and he stuck his paw out of the cage at me when i walked past and CRIED like no tomorrow.. HE TOLD ME HE WAS COMING HOME WITH ME.. its true what they say about cats they pick you and YOU are honored to have them in your life..

when i sit at my computer he would come over and stretch his front paws on my back and then jump up on me.

well a few wks after he died, i was sitting at my computer and i felt him stretch on my back.. I swong my chair around so fast.. my dog jumped from his nap and i ran to see where my other cat was.. i know she wouldnt do that .. .that was all shadow.. well she was sound asleep on the bed.. I just called out to him.. i know your here with me.. and i love u & miss you terribly.

At night i think he is next to me.. of course its josie... but i can dream.

well ive babbled enough..

I wanted to give you my condolences and thank you for your kind words.

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