Ok. I should have known better.
I’d driven over to the shelter to buy some shiny new dog collars that were donated as a part of a big fundraiser.
But first I decided to stop in the adoption room upstairs to play with the kittens. I admit I’m more of a dog person, but there’s something so special about a new kitten.
It had been a particularly hard day. It was a few weeks after I’d moved my husband to a facility for round the clock care due to the severity of his dementia.
Surely some soft little fur balls ought to soothe my nerves, I thought.
And they were mighty cute as I watched them wrestle, then snuggle up tight with each other afterwards.
One of the kittens I spotted was a little larger than the rest.
A pretty calico.
But I probably should say she spotted me.
I could hear her tiny paws scratching on the glass as she tried to jump up and down, attempting to get my attention.
“Pick me, pick me,” she seemed to be saying.
I smiled down at her.
“Ok, but we’re only going to play, and just for a few minutes,” I whispered.
I then carried the little calico into one of the smaller ‘get acquainted’ rooms for some one on one time. She immediately jumped up on my lap and purred, and then purred some more.
And she wasn’t budging.
A young gum cracking employee handed me her information card.
“Her real name’s Maddie and she’s 13,” she told me while reading the expression on my face.
“I know. Everyone thinks she’s a kitty”, she added now cracking a smile.
“She’s been around here quite a while. You know, her being so old and all.”
As you’ve may have guessed, little Miss Kitty went home with me that night.
And I forgot to buy the new shiny dog collars.
Ms. Kitty’s been a gift to have around and has sensed each of my moods. She’s also shown love and compassion.
And of course, that older cats rule.
We’ve supported each other through life’s most challenging days.
In fact, little Miss Kitty’s been my soul sister.
I thought I might lose her right before my husband went into hospice 18 months ago, but she rallied and was in turn a spirit cat for me when my husband passed. And also for the first year after.
But on Friday morning Miss Kitty suddenly looked older.
And more weary.
When I came home after work, I noticed she hadn’t eaten her food.
While preparing for a visit to the vet, she took her last tiny breath.
But peacefully, and on her own terms.
I’m wondering if she sensed her work was done here, and that she could finally relax?
I do know I miss having her company on my lap as I write this, but I am content.
Though I said I should have known better then to take her home with me four years ago, I’m so glad that I did.
Because as I have come to learn, some loss will always be a part of a life well lived.