Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Our dear sweet companion Bernadette passed away over the holidays. I've been putting off writing this tribute to her because of the flu. However, I can not wait another second what a sweet, sweet, sweet kitty Bernadette was. Since her passing the house is thick with her energy. She did not want to leave and we hated to see her go. Like her sister Sylvia (from the same litter) Bernadette suffered Chronic Renal Failure. I would stress to all animal lovers to research this disease now before it is too late. Apparently the phosphorus content in even some of the higher end foods is too much for the Kidney's to sustain over a long life time for both cats and dogs. Sylvia bowed out after fifteen years. Bernadette's body gave out after seventeen years.
We miss her terribly. She was such a comfort kitty. She followed the sun from one side of the house to the other, an open window was always occupied. She loved being brushed and of course the comfy blankets at the foot of the bed were home. While both kittens slept on my chest Bernadette soon found out that if she positioned herself just so by my hand I could scratch her under her chin and pet her all night. Her tail would drape over my arm and go back and forth out of reach and then back around my arm. She and Sylvia would hop up on bed with me one under each arm. Sylvia was on the left side and Bernadette the right side.
She was such a big sister to Sylvia that even after Sylvia died Bernadette would pause still standing or sitting and wait for Sylvia to hop up on the bed before curling up to take her place next to me. It was as if she was waiting for Sylvia to magically appear. After all of fifteen years she knew Sylvia was missing but still paused thinking maybe tonight would be the night she returned to us. The actual time Bernadette would wait for Sylvia diminished from long and horribly sad to barely a noticeable moment. But even the last time she hopped up to doze off with me she still paused a moment to look for Sylvia before curling up. Even to the point where I commented to her,"still looking for your sister," it was one of those things.
Coming back from a brief Christmas road trip we found Bernadette in the closet, sad and confused and wobbly. She came down stairs with us and absolutely showed no interest in food, looked out the sliding glass door one last time and then went behind the couch. We were mortified but she rallied and hopped up on the coffee table imploring us to sit on the couch. So I quick got into my seat, flipped on the tube and she snuggled up in between my wife and I and purred for three hours. We spent a lot of time together on that sofa. It would be her last visit to the first floor.
Without going into the horribly sad and heart wrenching details I set up throw pillows in the closet and slept with her for two nights. She wasn't moving around much and certainly not jumping up on the bed anymore. We all said goodbye to each other a hundred times and her little squeaks and sighs just devastated us. Like a trooper she struggled down the hall to sleep with me that final night. I knew it was way past time for her to let go and collected my things out of the closet. Our animal companions do like to crawl off alone so I wanted to give her that space but still she followed me to the bedroom.
In the morning I expected to find her under the bed expired, but she was still hanging on. This time I found her in the spare bedroom she had made her own over the years. Bernadette did not want to die. She loved us and we loved her. Never did I pass her in the hall without loving her. We always sing song called her name when returning home or going from floor to floor. She always was at my feet by the computer rubbing up against the sharp corners of some working binders or in the window catching fresh air while listening to the birds.
She was a wonderful chow hound who always stood on her back legs for dinner. Her name came from the Classic Four Tops Song Bernadette. I just knew I was going to name a pet after that song. I love those lyrics and they fit Bernadette to a tee.
She was the original crumpled up paper kitty. In the process of transcribing my manuscript for Journey Home from paper to digital I crumbled up the finished handwritten story and would toss them one page at a time. Forget the cat toys a piece of crumbled up legal pad paper was all Bernadette needed. That paper would crumple and her head would rise on alert, and she would bat that thing around from on side of the room to the other. It was how we finally found her collapsed on top of and between several pieces of crumpled up paper. It was the last noise she ever heard before leaving her earth bound body fittingly so I suppose.
Such a sweet kitty she would lick our hands if we took a pause from petting her and laid our hand to rest. She would put her paw out to hold your hand down and then lick the back of your hand. She would also groom her sister around the ears until Sylvia had enough, and she would kiss you on the lips. That's right a little smoochy sound and she would put her nose to your lips. Dad likes tuna too but it became a life long habit no matter if we had eaten or not.
Whether curled up under the Christmas tree or on the arm of the sofa Bernadette was just as sweet as she could be. She fought like a champion to stay with us and would let out these heart wrenching sighs while being petted she knew the end was coming and inevitable. Watching her struggle down the hall to join me in the bedroom crushed my poor wife's heart. That she died quietly, peacefully in her room, in her comfort zone was the least we could do for her.
Through thick and thin over seventeen years Bernadette was always there. We are not running out and getting new pets. That is too much like changing light bulbs for us. We are going to honor her memory and took all of the left over food, and pet carriers to the local no kill shelter (Hope for Life Rescue). We are sad but glad Sylvia and Bernadette are back together. And we are calling on our friends and family who have gone before to look out for them. Something has already told us they are and the house is thick with their energy. Love knows no bounds and even if we don't get that day to day and with each other our animal friends are here to remind us...Who doesn't love a god that makes kitty cats?