AIRBORNE - June 1997 - May 20, 2013
You were born in Fayetteville, NC – one of a litter of 8. A Vet Tech from Fort Bragg was taking care of you and your siblings, as you were all orphaned only weeks after your birth. Daddy was out in the field, which is where he usually was when decisions were made to add a new furkid to the family. Brandon and I chose you when you jumped from a second floor balcony practically into our laps. Living life with a paratrooper, Brandon yelled out “Airborne!” as you landed safely on the floor near us. This is how you got your name. However, over the years, you became known by many names: Pusser, Pussycat, Baby Girl, Mommy’s Baby Girl… It didn’t matter what we called you. When you were in the mood for strokes and kisses, you answered to all.
In your early years, when we lived in North Carolina, you were quick to dart to freedom if one of the doors was open too long. Chris and Brandon were teenagers, and not always careful about not letting the cat out. You took advantage of the situation, and once you disappeared for more than 24 hours. My heart was broken, and I imaged you had been hit by a car somewhere. When you appeared again, you were sticky and dirty, and we wondered what sort of adventure you were returning from. The boys were careful from then on, because no one wanted Mommy to get upset again!
When we moved to Florida, you rode in your cat carrier next to me and howled continuously until I threw a towel over your cage, blocking your view of the passing landscape. You never did care for rides in the car.
In Florida, we had a beautiful screened in balcony just off the living room, and I’d leave the sliding glass doors open so you could go in and out at your leisure. There were tiny lizards that would sometimes find their way under the screen, as well as singing tree frogs. That always made you happy, and you’d surprise me with lizard bodies (without legs) hidden nicely in the laundry basket. If there was a basket of clean clothes, that was even better!
You loved to hunt the palmetto bugs and because I had such a fear of them, I’d cheer you on as you stalked and pounced and destroyed these monster insects. The fact that you liked to disassemble them wasn’t very pleasant, but I was happy they were dead.
You traveled with us and your canine sister Sedona, when we made the big move to Alaska. Every few days, we’d camp someplace new and I’d carry you outside in my arms so you could smell the air and enjoy the scenery. Sometimes I’d put you down so you could feel grass under your feet, or sand between your toes. And much to your chagrin, I’d sometimes put you down in a puddle of water or snow because it made me giggle to see you walk and shake a leg, walk and shake, walk and shake. I don’t think you were very happy with me then.
You lived here in Alaska the longest of all our homes. You were only 6 when we moved here – still so young and energetic… and FAT. The vet said you needed to go on a diet as the scale neared 13lbs. I wasn’t going to deprive my sweet fat black cat. There was just more for me to cuddle.
Your favorite place to hang out here in Alaska was by any window or door that gave you a view of the outside. You’d watch the birds come to the feeders. You’d watch the snowshoe hares hop around in the yard. You’d watch the squirrels gather nuts and seeds and hop back to their underground caches with their bounty. Sometimes you’d chatter. Sometimes only your mouth would move, but no sound would come out. Sometimes you’d lunge at the birds, and smack your head right into the screen door.
When we’d go camping, you’d curl up next to me at the kitchen table, as I worked on my laptop. You’d curl around my laptop battery because it was warm. I am really going to miss you this year on our trips, Sweet Baby Girl.
When Daddy was on night shift, you slept next to me in bed, curled up behind my bent legs, under the blanket. I could feel your soft fur against my skin and the rumble of your purr as I’d drift off to sleep. The bed will be lonely without you.
As you got sicker and sicker, you came to me more often for comfort and love. We had a special bond, you and I. I’d hold you close and softly talk to you, and you’d meow deep in your throat, as your purrs rumbled against my chest. Sometimes, as I stroked you, you would make small sighing sounds with the pleasure of it all.
Watching you get thinner and thinner over this last year, and especially these final months, has been the most difficult thing for me. Seeing your bones appear, where there used to be fat and muscle, has caused me such sadness – especially over the last few months as you cried with constant hunger despite eating all the time.
And then, last week, you were asleep on the sofa next to me, curled into my hip and I was talking to Daddy about making the hard decision to release you from your pain. I started to cry and you woke up from your nap, stood up, and placed your paw on my face. I knew in that moment that you were telling me it was OK. That you were ready.
Two hours ago, I held you as you took your last breath. I held you close to my chest, the way I have many many times over the last 16 years. You were so thin, my hand was able to wrap completely around your chest. I felt your heart in my hand… beating… beating… and then it stopped. And I kissed your silken head, and your sweet little nose, and I wished you well on your journey.
Thank you my sweet girl for 16 years of cuddles, purrs, laughs, joy, happiness, and adventure. I’d rather be sitting here crying mournful tears, than to have never known and loved you.