Friday, July 15, 2011

I've lost my best friend.

At the risk of sounding like one of those crazy old cat ladies, I can honestly say that my heart is broken by the loss of my best friend--my cat named Emily.

Emily died of natural causes, at home, Monday, July 11.

I'm proud to be a crazy old cat lady. I have no shame in saying that Emily was my beloved pet and trusted companion for more than 16 years. Through thick and thin, she has always been a comfort. We seemed to simply understand one other. 

For the last couple years, Emily's health was failing. She no longer used the litter box, but instead, became paper-trained. It was difficult sometimes to care for a sick cat, especially since my husband and I have four others in our household--kittens whose birthday was the day Emily died. Their mother lives here too, but she lives both inside and outside.

Despite the extra work and mess, I refused to end Emily's life for my own convenience, especially when she was still able to find pleasure in living. She had good days and bad days, but I believe she remained a happy cat until the end.

I gladly did whatever I could to make her comfortable. 

Emily didn't just like to be held, she liked to cuddle. She would reach her paws around my neck, like a hug. She came when I called her. So many times she curled up on my lap as I read a book or watched television. When quilting, she always laid on the fabric. 

Emily came into our family many years ago to fill my heart after the loss of another beloved pet, our collie, Howard. Howard had a story too, but that is for another time.

A friend took me to the home of a woman who ran a shelter in her home in Kankakee, IL. She had many cats, but I felt indifferent; perhaps it was too soon. She said she had one more, but she was in quarantine. She was recovering from an eye infection, but was due to be introduced back into the 'population.'

One look at this beautiful, little, grey fur ball, and my heart melted. It really was love at first sight. She was the one. I named her Emily after a dear friend. 

Emily has always been there. When my daughter got her own apartment; when my son moved away; when we relocated from Illinois to Arkansas, Emily was always a comfort. I can't count how many times I cried into her fur. I recall the long drive when we moved--her cat carrier was buckled into the seat next to me. For most of the trip we held hands. I was so worried about her, but she did great. We had many conversations in those long hours. 

Emily is now buried at the edge of our cedar grove in a grave marked with a bouquet of pink, plastic carnations, in full view of the back deck. 

Rest in peace, my Emily.