On our first, hopefully, annual Rainbow Bridge Remembrance Day we want to honor those beloved animals who came into our lives, changed them and left indelible marks on our souls for however short or long they were with us. Thank you to Deb Barnes of Zee and Zoey blog fame, for hosting this special day.
I have put writing this post off until the last minute not knowing where to start. I have lost so many cats in the past few years with more to go as they age. This, to me, is the only drawback of rescuing animals. But with each heartache comes a special gift or lesson that each animal has for us
I had one dog Bunny, a cocker/poodle/terrier mix, when I was a teenager who died at age 11 of cancer. She was extremely intelligent, funny and energetic. She taught herself to alert me of any new sounds in the house if I was home alone since I was hearing impaired. She left me her gift of exuberant joy.
My first cat didn't come into my life until Chica, who found me in Florida in 1991. Maybe because she was my first, she was my heart and soul cat. Yoko join us two years later and then in 1998 we moved to the North Carolina mountains and my work with feral cats began.
I worked with a local vet to trap, neuter and release the ferals living in a colony in the woods behind our farmhouse. So many were not even named, their lives with us were so brief, as it often is with ferals. Bob and Leroy just vanished on different days when they were both about six months old. I have to think that some wild animal got them. The ones that survived and thrived became a part of our lives and as they aged we took them into our home.
Momma Kitty was the first to leave us in 2003 on my birthday. She had been ill during a really hard winter but had eluded my attempts to catch her. When I did we took her to the vet and he said she was just days away from dying. He body was filled with tumors. We let her go surrounded by our love. She left behind her nurturing peaceful nature.
After two hurricanes blew through our town in early fall 2004, I noticed Big Guy, the head feral mancat was getting weaker as the days went by. He lay limp on the second level of the feral shelter we built, unable to move. I rushed him to the vet but there was nothing we could do - his huge benevolent heart was giving out. He died peacefully in my arms, the only time I was ever able to hold him. Big Guy taught me compassion and benevolence, watching him rule over his beloved colony.
Two weeks later our most recent addition Clarence, a regal stray who wandered into our yard, not part of the colony, died in his sleep under the bedroom chair with a faint glimmer of a smile on his face. He lived with us just 18 months and had been ill for the last six. At least he knew our love for a short time. He showed us how to live with dignity no matter what our circumstances.
Nick, one of the few ferals still outside at this point, became ill so we took him inside and nursed him. He had lymphoma and left us in 2006. Nick's gift to us was his eternal goofiness and love of play. Mannie followed him a few months into 2007 after a vet badly handled a urinary blockage. He was only two years old. This was getting harder to lose so many but we did have a few years of health and longevity.
My main man Joey left us for the Bridge in 2012 suffering from cancer. He was the one cat welcome committee to all newcomers. Everything was a wonderful fun thing to him. He left us his zest for life.
Then we come to the hardest loss - my dear Chica who lived to be 22 years old. I didn't want her to leave and I guess she didn't want to either. She passed from heart issues on my birthday in March of 2013. She was a part of me like no other cat could ever be. We went through so much together. Part of me died with her but I know she lives on in my heart. She taught me to speak up for what I want. She never lacked for anything - she just took it. She made me smile.
Yoko was the quiet one and her favorite was my husband. She was our Buddha cat - doing everything very slowly, methodically and focused. She ate deliberately, savoring and chewing every bite. She even made biscuits slowly, with her eyes closed in a blissed out state of contentment. We lost her to oral cancer in December of 2013. Being with her, taught us patience - to sit, and not rush around, to be still and savor each moment.
Lily was another loss that was almost too hard to bear. She was our mother figure - giving birth to all the white cats before we could trap her. Even while living in the house with us she was forever caring for us - sitting with us when we were not well, ever on the alert to noises and the goings on of the other cats. We lost her at age ten to oral cancer in April of 2015. Her gift was her love and caring.
This day falls on the day after the month anniversary of Ivy's passing. She left this world suddenly on July 27, 2015 after throwing a blood clot in her hind leg. It is hard to believe it is four weeks since she was with us last. I still hear her funny quack and look for her in the TV console, expecting her to be napping on the receiver snug and warm. She was funny, silly and loved to play. Everything about her was comical. She left a big hole in our hearts. Her gift was the laughter and smiles she brought to us all.
We miss you all dear ones and know that you will be there at the Rainbow Bridge to greet us when we arrive. Until then, we will see you in our dreams.