There have been many many Saturdays that I have woken up with my little buddy on my chest….. 884 of them if you are counting….give or take a few…..
There have been 884 Sundays as well – and over 4000 mornings in between those weekend days that I woke up to my beautiful and faithful feline… But those days are gone now, and I am left to adjust to life without him.
On a crisp and sunny autumn day over 16 years ago I walked into a little run-down hole-in-the-wall pet store and immediately fell in love with the tiniest silver tabby I had ever seen. He was the runt of the litter, and was neglected and starving. His Momma didn’t want him, and either did the pet store. He was “high maintenance” or so I was told, and he was going to be euthanized that week. “Pick another one from the litter” the woman said, “there are seven healthy babies, you should pick one that isn’t so mouthy”….. But my heart was set on him….. He was a spit fire, spunky, and had a survivor’s strength…. and immediately HE chose ME.
I walked out of the store with him shortly after, and I knew my life was never going to be the same. He cried the whole way home…. and as I recall, so did I.
I called him Calvin. His attitude reminded me of a New York Cabbie.
He couldn’t do anything for himself in those early days…. He was too small to climb the stairs, he needed to be fed by hand, and when he wasn’t in my arms he would cry….. The only thing that pacified him was to nestle in my hair and suck on my ear…. So for all intents and purposes I became his “Mom”.
Days turned into weeks, and week into months, and like any child – Calvin was the center of my universe. Where I went, he went…. When I slept, he slept…. and if he wasn’t in my lap he was off in the corner pouting…. A cat that pouts?!? He was much more human than any feline I had ever seen. He slept with his head on my pillow, spooning me from behind each night. His favorite foods included black olives and hot wings, and he could carry on a conversation better than most people I know… He was insanely jealous of anyone that held my attention, the alpha-male in front of others, and the biggest suck when we were alone….
He was PURE love…. unconditionally.
And he was there for me through everything…… make-ups and break-ups, new jobs, my brother’s death, my marriage…. my divorce…. my health….. he was my constant friend……
For 18 months when I couldn’t get out of bed, he didn’t leave my side… he watched over me, and every time I had enough and was ready to give up the fight, Calvin would instinctively move closer…. he would lay on my chest and let me sob into his fur…. purring all the while, and loving me perfectly even in my ugliest moments.
Just after the summer Calvin developed a cough…. we thought he was having a hard time getting up a hair ball….. But as the days turned into weeks and the cough didn’t go away, I started to get concerned. My honey and I discussed his health every day, but we played it down. Neither of us wanted to admit that maybe Calvin was really ill. “But he is so healthy for a 16-year-old!!” we’d say, or “Calvin has more than 9 lives, he is going to be fine”….. but in my heart I knew…. just as any mother would know…. that something was really wrong…
I called up my Dad one day and asked him and my Mom to pray…..” I am just not ready to let him go!!” I cried…. “I need him!”……”I just haven’t had enough time with him yet!”…… “Please pray that I will know when it’s time to let go, I don’t want him to suffer!”
He spent 3 days in the hospital before Thanksgiving, and then came home with medication and inhalers… but the vets made no promises… They thought it was cancer, but they were not too sure…. I refused the biopsy they offered…. He was old…. He was my best buddy and I didn’t want him to have to endure surgery, he deserved that respect, and I gave it to him… It was the least that I could do.
I had 2 more Saturdays with him….. 2 glorious Saturdays that I awoke to him on my chest purring softly, but on the 3rd Saturday I found him sleeping on the floor – for the first time in his life, he wasn’t showering me with his cuddles…. I knew instinctively his time on earth was almost through…
The car ride to the animal hospital was a blur…. my honey holding my hand and telling me it was going to be okay….. my faithful furry child on my lap…… pulling into the parking I thought about the irony…. that one beautiful autumn day many years ago I drove away with a new life in my hands…. and how in that moment we had come full circle…. I would drive away without him.
We stayed until the end….. we embraced….. we cried….. and before we left I gave Calvin a scratch behind the ear…. he was gone….. but a part of me thought that maybe he knew I was there, and somehow comforted in knowing that I never abandoned him, as he never had abandoned me…. “I am sorry little buddy” I said as I walked out of the room, out of the door, and into a new world without him…..
I am missing my little buddy today, but at the same time I am filled with honor….. I am honored he chose me for his mom…. I am honored that he loved me so faithfully….. I am honored that I got to spend so many years with him…..
My Saturday mornings will never be the same…. but I don’t want them to be.
Each weekend morning I roll over, stretch, and think of Calvin….
That is the way I choose to honor him….