We had to say goodbye to my girl yesterday. She had a mouth cancer that was growing back into her head. That type of cancer is 100% fatal no matter what treatment is given, so we opted to bring her home and spoil her rotten for her last month.
Stumpy, Stump, Stumpalump, Lump, Lumpus, Little Mess, Her Royal Highness Queen Stumpington, and Horkatron 5000. She has always been the smartest cat I’ve ever known. She knew how to open cabinet doors, knew that she should stay away from my feet in the dark because I couldn’t see her, came when called, and would pull a bowl of water so she could see the level in the bowl instead of getting her nose wet. For all her intelligence, she has tried for years to cover her poo with the laundry room floor instead of the kitty litter. She also never figured out that other cats could be friendly. There was one notable time that when cornered under a car by another cat, she once actually pooped out of fear.
I will miss the gentle chirps of good mornings, the hearty loud purrs of rough pets, the soft snoring in the night at the foot of the bed, the calls from bed, even the loud howling in the kitchen begging for treats and the cries at the door. I will probably miss most of all the fussy meows when something wasn’t just the way she wanted it and the ‘ah’ of a greeting that her voice cut out on. Before you think she was utterly perfect, I will not miss the 2am hurka hurka hurka splat of a hairball and needing to get up to find it before stepping on it later. I will not miss the game of drag-ass cleanup. I will not miss the claws through the blankets.
We’ve had her for 15 of her 17-ish years, and it wasn’t long enough. She adopted us, coming to us in the apartment we lived in. We’d been feeding some strays outside and we’d call her ‘that stumpy kitty’ to tell her apart from the other ones coming by… because she had about 2 inches of a stumpy tail she’d wave around like a dog. When she invited herself in, we’d been calling her Stumpy for so long that nothing else fit.
For 15 years, this day was so far off, and now it has come. It’s all too real, and yet unreal at the same time. How do you put a a period onto a life? What do you say about the fuzzy person who has shared almost your whole adult life with you? Even though we didn’t know her for her first 2-ish years, the other 15 she’s been with us have included some of our defining moments. She was there when I created Fairyography. She was alive when John graduated college. She was waiting at home when John proposed, and later when he and I said our wedding vows. She said hi when we returned from John’s surgery. She was in the house as we signed the purchase papers on it. She was older than both of our cars, she was older than Facebook, older than iPhone and iPad, older than Blu-Ray, older than every hummingbird in the world.
And yet she still ran around the house like a kitten, bossing us into doing things the way she wanted. Open this door, close that one. The food is too stale, the water too old, the litterbox not clean enough. We have several phrases that we apply to ourselves that started with her. When someone’s not feeling well, we’re ‘going to go put a kitty on it’. When someone is angry, they have ‘dammit ears on’. When we catch or jump on something, we ‘put toes on it’. She’d call us from bed and we’d yell back “You’re fine!” All other cats outside are “bad kitties” and the food for them is “bad kitty food”. When something isn’t quite right for Her Royal Highness, we’re all “gettin’ it wrong, yet again”. All fuzzy blankets in the house are “the soft”. She helped me garden, helped John do car repair, supervised me in the princess room, she makes an appearance in my photography videos, and has helped me edit.
There isn’t a single part of our lives that she hasn’t touched somehow. I’m not sure what the future holds, but I think it will be a lot less funny and lot more quiet for a while without her.
Goodnight sweetheart, I’ll miss you more than you will ever know. Come back to us.