Saturday

Say Goodbye to My Little Friend..



She loved sitting  by the lake to stare at the fish.

This is a story about my cat.
If you aren't a cat person..it's okay - you can X out now and I won't be upset.  Being that the main reason I have this blog to begin with is for stress relief, I need to get this out to help me get past this awful loss.

When I was a little girl, every time I'd find a dandelion, I'd make a wish and blow as hard as I could so that the little wishmakers would fly every which way to ensure that just one of those got to the place that made dreams come true.  I wished for the same thing, or variations of the same thing, every single time.



I wish I could get a cat.

I wish my brother didn't have allergies to cats.

I wish my parents would let us get a cat.

The only thing I really want for my birthday or Christmas...is a cat.

One night when I was around 10 years old, I was snuggled in my bed, listening to the April rain dancing on the roof.  The pitter patter of the raindrops were interrupted by a much more distinct rapping on my window - almost as if something was getting caught in the screen, poking and pulling, tapping and tugging.  I listened carefully as I pulled the sheets up past my nose, barely allowing my fearful self to peek out from the covers. I'm not scared. I'm not scared.  I'm not scared.




The rapping continued, only this time, I could almost make out the sound of crying.  My heart raced. I was feeling everything from excitement to fear as the sound of my heart beating overpowered the sounds of the crying.

Meow.

Wow.  THAT is a cat!  I leapt out of bed and went right to my window and there she was.  A tiny black and white cat, wet and scruffy sitting on my window sill.  I opened up the other window screen next to it and it jumped RIGHT in my bedroom.  I was GIDDY.  My wish finally came true.  This was my cat.  I grabbed my bathrobe from the chair and dried it off as it paced back and forth, smashing his little head into my hand repeatedly for more rubbies. I put this wet cat on my bed and climbed back in and instructed him to go to sleep with me.  I didn't make a move for fear he would get down or go away or even worse, start meowing or scratching on my door.  Surely my parents wouldn't go for this mysterious border in the middle of the night.

When I woke the next morning, there he was, in a ball at my feet.  I loved the feeling of this little guy snuggled up with me in my room - a scene I had dreamed about for years and years, and never got to act out in real life until today.  Now came the hard part - telling my parents what happened.

We can't keep him, you know that. Your brother is terribly allergic.  

We had him for a couple of days before finding a wonderful home for him.  I was heartbroken. Life was unfair.  Allergies are stupid. I was living out my dream if only for a day or two and it was as exhilarating as it was heartbreaking, but truly one of the greatest memories of my childhood. How that kitty knew to scratch on my window was how I knew those little dandelion wishes really do come true, if only for a moment.
I knew that day that the SECOND I had my own place when I was an adult, I would get as many cats as I could and I would show everyone that I was the boss of my house!  Until then, I would continue to wish for a cat on every birthday candle, every dandelion, and any other chance I got and prayed that my brother would miraculously overcome his allergies to cats.

What did you wish for?
 "A cat, of course." 


Fast forward many years and many wonderful cats that I'd nurture and love and raise and lose to old age or sickness, there was one in particular that had my heart in a way no other cat did.  She was the cat I got from a friend's horse farm, born from a barn cat's litter, I fell in love with her orange and black face immediately. I had just gotten divorced, it was just my one year old and me and I  desperately ached for the comfort of a little furry friend.  My son loved Swiper the fox on Dora's show, so we named her Swiper - totally fitting since she constantly took my hair rubber bands and ran off with them.

Swiper was the kind of cat who always had to be next to me.  No matter who came over, or what was going on, she insisted on being between me and everyone else.  If I sat on the couch, she sat next to me - never on my lap - sometimes behind my head on the couch so she could be higher than me if she felt in the mood for that kind of space..but always near me.  She was very vocal and would answer me in a Brrrrrrt if I gave her a rub or a talking to.  She would always  look me right in the eye.  Fast forward 13 years and three boys, and she was still my most faithful companion, my company on late night feedings and changings, my understanding friend, my comfort on sick days, my laugh on sad days.

One thing she hated - my suitcase.  She hated when we left.  Although she did have a 1/2 sister from her naughty mother who got around in the barn, she hated when there were no humans around.  She'd take one look at a suitcase and pout for days.  She'd make sure I knew she was mad.  Upon returning home, she'd quickly forgive me and greet me with her happy shaky tail and a few more brrrrts.

It was the weekend before Christmas.  We had terrible heavy rains and ice storms for days and she'd been cooped up for too long inside the house and was getting grouchy.  Though she was an indoor cat, she liked to go outside for a little bit every day to see what was going on in the yard, look for mice, roll around in the driveway and get some fresh air.  She hadn't been able to do that for days because of the rain and it was making her crazy.  It was a Sunday afternoon and I was on  the couch when she just kept pestering me, scratching her paw on my leg, talking, pacing on the couch, and looking at me right in the eye.  WHAT DO YOU WANT YOU SILLY CAT???!!!  I had no idea what her deal was, I can only think that it was the rain or the weather but she was acting so weird.  We were going to a friend's later that afternoon and she and her sister were pacing by the door.  I can't imagine why either of you girls would want to go out in this freezing rain, but here you go...you're going to want right back in though!  I was in the kitchen putting together a holiday platter for our party when I saw the two girls outside doing their thing.  I guess they just needed to get out of the house.  When we went to leave for the party, neither were ready to come in.

These two. They used to sit like this all the time and stare longingly at the yard.  They loved being outside and always came right back in just as happily as when they went out.


A few hours later, we returned to find Bella waiting to come in right at their usual spot, but Swiper was nowhere to be found.  This wasn't like her.  She would usually hang out under the porch until we came home, especially if it was raining. I looked for her for hours in the freezing rain that night, but no one saw her, none of my neighbors, no one. The next 4 days before Christmas were not spent wrapping gifts or baking, they were spent looking for her in every barn, garage, bush, tree, street you name it, I looked.  I called her name, I made fliers, I put an ad in the newspaper.  Nothing.  Nothing but an empty space on my couch where she'd spend her days waiting for me to finally plop down beside her and rub her head. I've called and gone to the Humane Society to the point of probably being called the Crazy Cat Woman.  Even my boys made signs and drawings - and sang the song from Piglet's big movie when Piglet got lost and his friends went looking for him.  It was heartbreaking and a horrible thing to go through right before Christmas.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WolD0aI_cNI


It will be 4 weeks tomorrow.  It's time for me to start accepting that she isn't coming home.  Does she know I looked for her? Did she hear me calling her name? Maybe someone took her in thinking someone abandoned her and she's keeping someone else comfy on their couch?  I can't bear to think about anything bad happening to the cat that only ever brought comfort and joy to my life. I am devastated that I let her down.



As I type this story, the amount of tears spilled on my keyboard might just cause my laptop to shut down, but I can't help it.  My heart is broken for my beloved Swiper, my friend and a cherished part of our family.  For those of you that have lost pets to illness or accident, or literally lost them like I did, I am so very sorry and I know that the heartbreak felt is almost unbearable. These pets are family, they remind us of how fragile life really is.  Here one day, gone the next.  There's a gaping hole in my heart.  That's all I can say. 13 years is a long time to go through with a pet. It's really hard to just let go.

Thanks for letting me get some closure here. To my dear friend, I hope you are somewhere that gives you your favorite wet food all day long, running in fields full of catnip with the sun shining on your little round head.  We sure do miss you.  I'm so sorry I let you out that day.  I'm so very sorry if you were sick or scared or cold or lost.  I am grateful for everything you got me through during some of the hardest days of my life and I am so sorry.

I'll get back to the funny again soon, but for now, today's a sad day.

xo
DG


11 comments:

  1. What lovely tribute. So sorry for your loss. My favorite cat went out one night and never came back. She was about 12 years old so I figure she did what cats often do at the end. I still miss her a lot.

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    1. You are so kind to leave a comment. Thank you. Sorry that we have a similar story. :(

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  2. We had a number of pets growing up, but my cat I had from 2nd grade up till a few months before I got married, was like that. She went off in the woods one morning, turned to meow at me, and never came back. She was almost 15.

    Almost a year after getting married. We adopted a 7 year old cat from the shelter. She didn't really like people, but she LOVED our kids, particularly the first born. Shortly before moving 5 years later, she went out but didn't return. We looked for 2 weeks, but figured at 12.5 she did what cats do and found her a quiet, peaceful place alone to die.

    It doesn't matter how miserable it is to lose one, I wouldn't not have a pet. They bring so much joy, and are so much fun.

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    1. Thank you for telling me your story! The guilt of letting her out is overwhelming - but she loved it outside. It doesn't help when people say "that's the risk you take when you let your cat outside.." UGH. That hurts. Thanks Dani. xo -

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  3. DG, I am so very, very sorry. I had to put my beloved little guinea pig to sleep last Thursday, so I too am living with a big hole in my life where a little furry being used to reside. It's times like this where I have to remind myself that yes, they are absolutely worth it - all the hassle, all the timing of your day to feed/water/let in/let out/clean up after, and especially the eventual pain of losing them. All very much worth it to those of us who can't imagine not having a companion so giving of unconditional love.

    Please don't beat yourself up too much about letting your kitty out. The bottom line is you were just doing as she asked, trying to please her.

    I hope your heart begins to heal and meanwhile, {hugs} from a fellow pet-lover who truly understands.

    (P.S. I must admit chuckling over your description of wanting a cat so very badly when you were small. I was that way about a pony. I wished so darn hard for an equine of my own that some mornings I swear I could hear the neighs and see the hoofprints on my front lawn, where I always hoped he would be tied up waiting for me. I can't believe a cat actually DID show up at your door - and how absolutely rotten that you couldn't keep him/her. You just get as many cats as you want now!)

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    1. RW - you are a love...I appreciate your comments so much. You always make laugh - bonus. xo

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  4. Beautiful post!

    Just something to think about - About 10 years ago we had a completely declawed (he came that way) cat of ours get out mid winter. It was horribly cold. We searched and searched and could never find him. About 2 months later he popped up on our kitchen windowsill. It was the weirdest thing. I wished we could have asked him where he had been. All I could figure was that someone had taken him in and that he had 'escaped' and come home.

    It is true that pets can be members of the family. Anyone who would poke fun of someone for writing so honestly about a pet should feel sad instead. Sad that they have missed the opportunity to love and be loved by a pet.

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    1. OMG are you kidding me? You are giving me even the slightest amount of hope - thank you! xoxo

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  5. Beautifully written. Anyone who would laugh at your honesty here should be sad instead. Sad that they missed the chance to love and be loved by a precious pet.

    On a side note, about 10 years ago our cat got outside in the middle of winter. He was completely declawed (came that way) and we were sure he would never make it. We searched and searched, but couldn't find him. About two months later he popped up on the kitchen windowsill. All we could figure is that someone must have taken him in and that he had 'escaped' and come back home. We had him another 5 years after that. I wish I could have talked to him to ask him where he'd been all that time.

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