For the people who have pets that become part of their lives and families, no explanation is needed, for those that don't none would ever suffice....
As my family is in mourning tonight, knowing that our beloved cat, Shmoo, will not be with us by Wednesday at the very latest; we have been saying our goodbyes and making our peace with the inevitable end. My 10-year old son Tristan poured out his little heart into a farewell card that brought me to tears in its earnestness and heartfelt anguish. He went and got the paper and crayons and put more emotion through no more than 50 words and pictures on a page than anything I have seen in years. It was the most heartbreaking thing I have seen and all I could do was offer him a tight hug and a shoulder to cry on as I too cried while trying to comfort him.
Following his raw, emotional outpouring is impossible, partly because 43 cannot feel loss the same way 10 can, nor can it put raw emotion into simple terms either, but in tribute to my dear Shmoo-boy, I am going to try anyway.
Goodbye dear friend, you will never be forgotten, not by me, not by Jill (the mommy-lady) or any of our children (those terrifying things that alternately you protected, played with and eventually just wanted to be left alone by)...the end is coming soon now and neither of us can push back time once more.
We had a close call a couple years back, and the miracle came as you managed to have a full Indian Summer with us - nearly two full years of gifted time; but this time we won't beat back the fates again. This time, the game is up, and we don't have anything left in the hole to play, no magic bullets to shoot, no final appeals or deals to make. We are soon to part ways, but I am filled with memories and images that will stay with me until I join you in the ranks of the departed.
You came to us 17 years ago, at a different time of mourning and loss. Jill and I were expecting - soon to be parents, but no idea at all what that was going to entail or how to do it...but so much younger and so filled with fear and anxiety. The cat that Jill brought to our marriage with her was her Baby...her anchor in turbulent times. When things were darkest, that cat was there for her and we lost Baby to Feline Leukemia just after Thanksgiving before you joined our family in December, 1997.
I did not know you were coming home to us. I was not going to push or try to replace Baby until Jill was ready. She surprised me when I came home from work though, and she held you out with that red bow on, as big as your entire kitten body!...and I was sold, forever. You were so small that you fit into the palm of my hand...and got lost in places we never thought you could get into. The bell - and the collar that you hated so - was only because we worried that you might get stuck somewhere we wouldn't know to look...so small and furry and full of curiosity, constantly on the move, constantly getting into everything. Entertainment centers were all the rage back in the late 90's, but you thought they were more for hiding - hiding in, hiding behind, hiding under...did not matter one bit. The banister still bears the scars of the fight it lost to your kitten claws...
That first night we left you alone, you poor thing! It was New Year's Eve 1997...you were just a few weeks old and so tiny that you could not jump up the stairs from the main floor to the bedroom. Earlier in that week, the very first night you were home, you managed to get downstairs, but could not get back up...you started whining and crying and mewing until I woke up and came to get you...but that first time we left you alone at night the smoke detectors malfunctioned at some point between 9 PM and 3 AM when we got home. You were shaking and quaking like a leaf! The "no kitty in the bed" rule - which was already hanging by a thread - pretty much ended that night.
After you calmed down from the New Year's Eve from kitty hell - obnoxious noise that would never end and an empty house; we promptly had our first daughter just 3 months later. Lucky for you, she was not quick enough to grab you for a couple years...but by then you welcomed everyone else into our extended family....4 more children, 3 cousins and even that awful salve to keep your dander from making Grandpa's allergies You out-lived 2 other cat friends, Munchkin and Troubles, even though they came to us much later. You survived a dog, Polo and the newest kitten friend who came to us as a rescue from abandonment just 2 months ago. I'm sorry dear Shmoo that Mew wanted nothing more than to play at a time when your health was failing and you just wanted to rest. He really did not mean to make things difficult and while he doesn't know it yet, he'll miss you too.
No cat is ever owned. They have their own lives and share what they wish with the humans they live with, but you gave us all so much that it won't be forgotten, ever, by any us. I am going upstairs after I finish this, tears in my eyes, sadness on my heart. I don't know if it is going to be the last time I see you alive or if I am going to have to take you to the vet in the morning. I'll scratch your ears one last time, pet your belly and whisper it once more...I love you Shmoo-boy.
Rest In Peace, Shmoo
(With apologies to the original artist..)
Vaya con Dios my kitten
Now the hacienda's dark
The town is sleeping
Now the time has come to part
The time for weeping
Vaya con Dios, my kitten
Vaya con Dios, my dear Shmoo
Now the village mission bells are softly ringing
If you listen with your heart
You'll hear them singing
Vaya con Dios, my dear cat
Vaya con Dios, my Shmoo-boy
Wherever you may be, I'll be beside you
Although you're many million dreams away
Each night I'll say a pray'r
A pray'r to guide you
To hasten every lonely hour
Of every lonely day
Now the dawn is breaking through a gray tomorrow
But the memories we share are there to borrow
Vaya con Dios, my kitten
Vaya con Dios, my dear Shmoo...
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