Monday, May 9, 2016


     Our cat Bagheera died yesterday.  He fell off the couch and broke his leg; his nineteen year old bones, too brittle to handle the landing.  As you would imagine, it was a horrible experience for the entire family, and we were thankful that my sister was there every step of the way.  She had come to celebrate Mother's Day with the children, as she is their other mama, and yet again, she was there to comfort and love all of us.
     Bagheera was my mother's cat, though originally my sister's.  When my sister came to live with us and help raise #1, she had to leave him with mom.  Many years later when my mom came to live with us, she had three cats and a dog named Bear.  Having long since moved to a bigger place as we were anticipating mom coming at some point, our new landlord was ok with the cats but not the dog.  Mom tried to re-home him, posted notes at the vet, reached out to the very few friends she had - but no one could help.  She had two choices, take him to the pound where he would watch her leave and never come back, and no doubt be killed after the allotted time, as he was an older dog and very jumpy, or put him to sleep.  She felt she had no other choice, that I had given her no other choice.  She never forgave me for making her kill Bear.  Honestly, I've never forgiven myself either.
     When she arrived with her cats, Cree, Turtle and Bagheera, she kept them in her room and to herself.  This was the norm for several years.  Six months before mom died, Cree developed diabetes and quickly died from kidney failure.  Mom was devastated and kept his urn on her desk.  She told me that when she died, she wanted the cats to be buried with her.  When mom died later that year, my sister and I mixed Cree in with her ashes and buried them together.  I opened her door and let Turtle and Bagheera out the same day she died.  It took them many days before they joined us, but eventually they did, and then they became mine, ours.
     Turtle died 1/20/2013.  She laid down in the hallway upstairs one day and decided not to get back up. The vet said her body was shutting down.  It would only be a matter of time.  So we made the hard decision to let her go and be with mom.  Because she died in January, my sister and I had to wait until May, the time we go each year to celebrate mom's birthday, her three children once again around her.  That year we did just as we had promised mom, and put Turtle with her.
     And now Bagheera is gone.  His death is a horrible loss for the family, as we loved him so very much. He had formed special bonds with each of the children and with my husband and myself. He had been ours for so long that he was really our cat.  He sat with my husband during his writing time.  He sat in my son's lap while he played video games or sat on his butt when my son would stretch out on the couch.  If you got up off the couch, Bagheera would immediately move and take your spot, leaving a circle of cat hair and dandruff.  I didn't care about the mess; life is clearly too short to worry about these things.  My eldest would tolerate him slowly walking over top of her on his pass to the open seat - high praise from someone who isn't an animal person.  And the little one was in love with him, absolutely smitten with the old cat who let her carry him around from room to room, who never got upset when she kissed him and hugged him.  He would burp old cat breath, and she would tell him how fabulous he smelled.  He would slow blink back at her, letting her know that he had claimed her as his own.  For me, Bagheera was the last link to mom,  Holding him while the vet administered the euthanasia was necessary as my duty owed to him, but so painful, as though I was cutting myself off from her - this nineteen year old cat, my life preserver.
     Bagheera will be physically reunited with mom, Cree and Turtle this weekend, when we three join again to celebrate what would be her 72nd birthday.  I know that she was waiting for him yesterday, Bear and the other two beside her.  I've always believed that our animals go on to the afterlife, because as mom used to say, heaven would be less than perfect without your pets.  Eternity is a long time to be without your best friend.


  1. such a beautiful tribute to a beloved family member. I'm so sorry for your loss, my friend.

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