Friday, December 07, 2007
We lost a dear friend yesterday. About a week ago we found out that our sweet kitty Jackie had a big, mean tumor in her belly. Since then she has made a rapid decline, and yesterday we said goodbye to her and buried her in the garden. I can't remember when I've ever cried so much.
About five years ago we moved into a rental house downtown, and she came with the property. Jackie technically belonged to the landlady, but lived outside, and when the landlady moved out of the house, she couldn't catch Jackie. So she became our outside kitty. For about three years we fed her, and slowly she softened up enough to accept a scratch on the head with her dinner. Then one June, she disappeared.
After four months, we had given up hope. She had lived an adventurous life, but we figured some final adventure had taken her away. One night in October, I was fixing dinner and our other cat, Simon, was going nuts at the back door. There was Jackie, cold, hungry, emaciated, covered in parasites, and with a badly injured hind leg.
I've already written the story of how our wonderful neighbor, Dr. D, saved Jackie's life that night, and how she recovered the use of her nearly-severed leg. I haven't written as much about what a wonderful friend Jackie is to Simon, how he became a well-adjusted domestic pet after she came to live with us (after ten years of neurosis worthy of a Woody Allen kitty movie), or how Jackie and HWWLLB became best buddies in our new house. Her favorite thing was to sit with him in his big recliner, and she would always come running when she heard the recliner creak as he sat down.
The last week has been so hard, so sudden. One day she was our happy little housemate, and suddenly she was weak, skinny, starved for affection but unable to eat. Yesterday HWWLLB held her on his lap as she died. She is resting now in our garden, and we have planted a rosebush on her grave, with big juicy rosehips for the birds to enjoy in winter. I scattered sunflower seeds on her grave, and lots of squirrels and birds have been visiting her in her new resting place.
More than once we have joked that Jackie was the spunky, red-headed heroine of a romance novel. She was tough, smart and beautiful, and her life was a series of hair-raising adventures. Last night as I sat at the window looking out at her rosebush, I imagined her walking down the path to kitty heaven, or the kitty ancestral home, or wherever it is that good cats go when they die. Little birds were singing to her and keeping her company along the path. I imagined that somewhere in his mind, Simon might be singing a kitty song to help her find her way, that maybe all the cats in our neighborhood were singing that special song.
Goodbye, sweet friend.