on a thursday morning i went to look for kitty at my house but there was still no sign of her. she had not come in on tuesday when i called her, so i left her out. by wednesday i was getting worried, and thursday left a message at the pound in case she had been found. thursday after work, rich texted me “kitty is here, neighbor found her” and i was so relieved. he waited until i got there to tell me she wasn’t in good shape… i was glad he waited. kitty was in the neighbor’s dog kennel where she had spent the night (on blankets, with water bowl and everything- and a can of food i had left out for her on my doorstep). rich had brought the kennel inside, and when i got there i took kitty out of it and set her on my lap and whereas she had been distressed and breathing hard, i got her on my lap and she went limp and relaxed and purred weakly and became very calm. she went to sleep. we decided i would take her to vet in the morning (it would have been her first time since she had been in my care, though i know whoever owned her first got her spayed and probably vaccinated).  i had her in a box with a blanket near our bed, but she climbed out of it in the night, onto our feet, and i pulled her up next to me, snuggled up and she went calm and slept again… and did not wake up.

i remembered about a week later, that in the night when she had been sleeping next to me, i heard her gasping for breath in my sleep, and patted her and told her “it’s ok” and in my heart, what i was saying was, “it’s ok to go now.” i didn’t even consciously think that through, but in my sleep i know i just wanted her to be at peace, even more than i didn’t want her to leave me.

kitty was with me through a lot of gnarly shit. not to put too fine a point on it, but between kitty’s arrival in my life and the launch of my yoga practice that same year, i am still on this planet. she came at just the right time. and of course she has been with me ever since, onward and upward, riding shotgun in a uhaul with me and my pregnant belly and staying in hotels, and nesting on my belly and hatching out her baby quinn. guarding him while he napped, even though i thoroughly neglected her ever since he came along and eclipsed my love and yet still kitty went on loving me anyway… i never did know how old she was when i found her in 2004, covered in twigs in the wilderness. so when she died she was 10 or 18, or somewhere in between. she cased the joint as soon as i got her home, and clearly was familiar with the concepts of house cat-ness. yet she was 100% wild, and would never succumb to a fate of being an indoor cat. she perfected the art of the hummingbird hunt last summer, much to my chagrin. she was a great mouser, and took it upon herself to bring a ready supply of offerings to the doorstep for me. her all-wild yet all-domestic personality made her my kindred, of course. she never seemed to mind that i never got around to really naming her properly, baby kitty is all that ever stuck, even though i didn’t know her as a kitten. she meowed the loudest and most obnoxiously that i’ve ever heard from any kitty, in spite of her diminutive size. she was all fluff. and the way she died, although she didn’t seem particularly old to me, maybe she was older than i thought, because she died like such an old wild animal would do-  she stopped eating and drinking and hid outside, and just decided it was her time.

i’m sad. sometimes you’ve gotta state the obvious.

quinn, in all his 5 year old awesomeness has been everywhere with the processing. he declared “we have to get a new kitty that is exactly the same color as our kitty and looks just like our kitty.” though later he told me the new kitty “could be bigger than our kitty”. he animatedly told me “i’m never going to decide to stop eating and drinking!” then, “mama, i don’t want you to ever decide to stop eating and drinking, either!” then he was making pacts with me that “let’s you and i never decide to stop eating and drinking, ok?” he asked me, when he saw her body, “why did she get smaller, mama?” because to him she seemed smaller than she was. i said maybe it was because her spirit isn’t in this body now… and yeah just all over the board. he cried, he was really sad, but then at times he was just so five. as he helped me scoop dirt into her garden grave with a shovel, “i don’t like it when kitties die. but it is kinda fun to bury kitties.” i just wanted to hug him for 20 days.

he required a visual. i anticipated that, and did not bury her until he was home and had been filled in. as soon as i told him and he had insisted we needed to get a new one just like her, he asked me where she had died, could he see where she died? and i told her i had her body in a box now and that he could see her before we buried her. he immediately relaxed, relieved. later, he tried to convince me we needed to bury just her body but not her head, that her head would not turn back into earth. we talked through that, and we discussed various sculptures and theatrical pieces that he would like to craft in honor of kitty, in lieu of leaving her head unburied. he wants to make masks “just like the ones from rich’s play” but with additional ones: two cats and a dog. the kitties will be eating together out of the same bowl of food, and the dog will be drinking water out of another bowl. and quinn and i will be there in the play, too, drinking warm milk from cups.

8 comments to kitty

  • Lb

    Rest in peace Baby Kitty 🙂 I'm very glad your mama let you continue to be a 'wild' kitty (and that you compromised by becoming the Nap Guardian). I'm very sorry she is gone but very happy she was in your life 🙂 My little buddy lost his 'brother' (a 12yr old 110lb malamute) 2 days ago- when mom explain what happened during the night all he had to say was "I will miss him so much but I'm glad he had a nice walk before he died. That's just Nature mom…nobody knows when they are going to die". How are 5yr olds so wise?

  • marybethrew

    exactly. i don't know how they are so wise, i just know they are.

  • Leticia

    Oh, mb. So sweet, so moving, such an amazing account of kitty's life with you. thank you. I am copying and pasting and sending this to my mom, who will also love it. I am sorry for your loss, but as always find myself admiring you and your strength and your presence more than anything. Quinn, too. What amazing people you both are. LOVE!!!

  • Leticia

    PS Brentley's dog Penny, who he had for 14+ years, recently passed away. It wasn't as big of an event to Felipe, since it wasn't our pet, but Brentley's grief really DID show up loud and clear to him. Brentley too was thoughtful enough to keep Penny until Felipe could see her and say goodbye to her. Felipe watched Brentley cry and cry and cry, for days and days, for no immediately apparent reason. One day he quietly went away and came back with a paper airplane that he set on the table in front of Brentley before climbing into his lap and wrapping his tiny little arms around that big, grieving man. On the airplane he had written simply "PENE." It was so sweet.

  • marybethrew

    oh, leticia! i love your felipe. my heart goes out to brentley, some dogs have a way of being closer to us than even people can be. lucky for him (and me) 5 year old hugs are the best! (or 6, i know felipe turns 6 before quinn does….;))

  • crystal

    I am so sorry for your loss, guys. Quinn is fantastic :). Your kitty made a big impression on my Hannah and I. She gave me a lot of love when hanging out at your place. She was a good one.

  • Oh MB I'm so sorry. I know the pain of losing a little life that has been with you for so long. I'm glad she was able to end her days surrounded by your warmth and love. Quinn is taking it so well, but kids can handle so much more than we think.
    Celynne recently posted..Inside Outward

  • […] not sure what got Quinn thinking of Baby Kitty one night, but he was sad he couldn’t remember her very much, only where we buried her. I offered […]

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