Repose   5 comments

Repose by Lady Birchwood
Repose, a photo by Lady Birchwood on Flickr.

In the spring of 1994, when we still lived in South Minneapolis, I was feeding a feral pregnant cat who gave birth under a neighbor’s porch. When the two (surviving?) kittens were five or six weeks old, she brought them to the food dish on our front porch. I spent the entire summer of 1994 earning the trust of two feral kittens who were terribly afraid of humans. By Labor Day, they were in our home and a part of our family. Since our nearly-19-year-old cat, Mandy, was in failing health, I called these kittens my “kittens from God.” Mandy was my first cat as an adult, adopted when I was 20, and her death in late September was devastating. We were a childless couple, and Mandy was the third member of our family. If it hadn’t been for my “kittens from God,” I don’t think I would have pulled through that loss as well as I did — which wasn’t at all well at times. However, Katie, the little calico, and Bubba, the bigger white guy with the black ears and tail, taught me about the healing power of love and the need to move on.

Katie died two years and four months ago from chronic kidney disease and end-stage renal failure. Bubba and I struggled on, bringing 8-month-old Mia, a brown tabby, into the family four weeks later. In a very short amount of time for a senior cat, he had accepted her as a baby sister. A year ago, we added then-3-month-old Ralphie, an orange tabby, into the family, and Bubba accepted him as well. Ralphie looked up to him as the figureative patriarch that he was.

Bubba coped these past few years with chronic health issues. He had hyperthyroidism that we successfully treated with radioactive iodine (I-131) and essentially cured this disease process. He also had issues with chronic pancreatitis these last couple of years which we tried to control with prednisone this last year. The chronic inflammation eventually led to the development of diabetes. He was diagnosed with this the day after his 19th birthday in March. We were trying to get that under control with daily insulin injections when respiratory problems set in a few weeks ago. In spite of antibiotic therapy, he developed pneumonia and died from respiratory distress on the morning of July 1.

He was very, very loved and he is now very, very missed. A huge, wonderful presence is now gone from our lives, and we’re all trying to pull it together now. Particularly this grieving mama.

I made this slideshow video for Bubba on Monday after he died. If you’d like to view it, please do so. I share it with love in his memory.

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Posted July 4, 2013 by StPaulieGrrl in cats

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5 responses to “Repose

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  1. There is nothing more difficult than the loss of a family member. That they live such short lives is nothing if not unfair. I have lived through this loss many times and will face it many more. I understand even though I have no satisfactory words of comfort.
    My heart goes out to you and your family during your heartbreak… No one will ever fill that precise hole in your heart; fortunately the heart has an endless capacity to include all.

  2. Our hearts have been broken — once again — by this profound loss, but this wonderful relationship with Bubba taught us more about love. We will carry that love forward and offer it to those waiting for a forever home. To do less would be to misuse the great gift we had been given when he came into our lives. Thank you for understanding and supporting us. It means so much!

  3. What I can offer you is an ear and an understanding heart. I believe it was our mutual love of cats which initially drew us together and I always enjoy it when you share stories from your family life together. It makes me happy to know there are such good people, good-hearted & good-natured, animal companions out there who are really living and experiencing life’s greatest goal – Right Now!; Love! It really can be that simple

    It begins to look as if we are not so very crazy after all. I believe the closest I can get to it with words is some kind if weird thing between fortunate, honored and welcomed into someone else’s world, & on their terms. It’s not all that often in life when you get the opportunity to travel to someone else’s world, & we get to come and go freely! We are all truly and irrevocably altered – when we open up this family of ours to something even bigger (no matter what it is!)!!

  4. This quote seems to speak to what you and I appreciate in animals:

    “The animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with extension of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren; they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth.”

    — Henry Beston (The Outermost House)

  5. Beautifully said! Thanks you for sharing that; it’s a keeper!

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