Art is impossible today. In fact doing anything other than wandering aimlessly through the house seems impossible. The pieces of my broken heart are rattling around in my chest. I had to say goodbye to my beloved kitty after almost 20 years.
I found this adorable little white kitten in the bushes under the stairs of my old apartment. He was pure white with the bluest eyes you can imagine. He was one of the prettiest kittens I’ve ever seen and his fur, the softest of any cat I’ve ever had. As he grew up he began to get orange striped bits on his beautiful white fur. I named him Dickens because he got into everything. He pestered the other cats, he got into the cupboards, he attacked anything that went by.
At the beginning of his life he disliked being held and hated being kissed on the head. I used to tell him that he just had to deal with it since he was so cute. For the last few years he let me kiss his head endlessly and purred and curled around me when I picked him up. He had a warm, rich purr that vibrated through both of us, I already miss it so much.
He was my best friend. He followed me from room to room. In the bedroom he slept on my shoulder or on my feet. In the office he lay near me on a couch. In my studio he insisted that the spot on the table by the window was his, whether there was artwork there or not. He’d lay right on it. He liked it best when I put a towel on that table.
As he got older his eyes faded to gray and his vibrant orange fur became tan. His kidneys were trying to shut down and, through the miracle of IV fluids lovingly administered by my husband, Greg, Dickens had almost three extra years of laying in the sun, purring in my ear and eating handfuls of cat treats and ham. Oh, how he loved cat treats!
Every evening we’d cuddle on the couch and, when he stopped climbing the stairs four weeks ago, I’d sleep downstairs on the couch with him until I woke up with a crook in my neck. We knew his body was changing again, but we were so glad to see him still doing the things he enjoyed. He had a terrific weekend. He’d go out front and watch the world go by, come in and roll in some cat nip, bop one of the other cats for good measure (he was the alpha cat, without question), and then settle in his nest on the couch for a good brushing.
Our goal was an excellent quality of life with no pain or suffering and I’m so glad we were able to honor him with such. He gave us an excellent quality of life, too. He soothed us when we were sad and stayed by our sides when we were ill. He always seemed to understand when we needed him. He was funny and sincere and feisty in a way that belied his age. He had such a presence about him. Today our home feels so empty. I’m terribly sad that he couldn’t live as long as we will. But I am so grateful for every day of those nearly 20 years.
Perhaps when I move on from tears to happy memories I can create art in celebration of such a special soul.