my little moons, my satellites, they orbit no more. lydia. lydia. lydia. dear, dear maggie.
i adopted my magic kitties when i was 22 and they were 6 weeks old. i named them maggie cassidy and lydia (lunch). i fed them when i couldn’t afford to feed myself. i cared for them as i dragged them all over the states and my states of mind. they endured and loved me always. they loved my friends and family. they came first in a graceful dance of affection and sacrifice, on all our parts. their warm furry bodies sat like yin and yang in open parts of my heart. they kept those parts open when circumstances and my attitude wanted nothing more than to brick it all in. they got my tenderness when i had none to give. they gave and gave and gave, and lived long, leisurely lives doing it.
maggie died 2 months after her 17th birthday.
lydia passed on Feb 5, 2014 after celebrating 19 years of purring just 4 days earlier.
i am 41.
for many, our pets mark eras. some of us grow up with an animal received into the family when we were young. we start out as children with the pet(s) we love and as adolescence passes, and sometimes our young adulthood, we lose them. the later the better, all of us desire; but a providing a long, comfortable life is all we can try for.
i certainly got the longevity i prayed for and then some. my cats watched it all. the dysfunction. the tempting fate. the defying death, mostly. the heartbreaks both morose and cherished. those delivered and those received…throughout my entire adult life to this moment. 22-41. that’s a crazy and determining time for everyone, and for this writer, adult life has been full of adventure, wonder, madness, tumult, darkness and in between, boredom. if those purring fur balls could talk i’d be nervous. i imagine them being the same as they were mute, little vaults like your best friends can sometimes be, if you are lucky, and both have a proper amount of dirt on each other. in this case, no creature has seen more of me than those two. i did my surviving and thriving in the privacy of an age sans tiny cameras. and even much of the photo evidence is destroyed. (my friends may find that comforting.)
my daughter turns 5 this month and we plan to start a new era this summer. she’ll mature with her little furry family members, and hopefully have these companions until she’s a young adult herself. we are also lucky enough to have a great family dog, a lab-horse mix, lovable and 8 years old. we cherish all our time with the fur kids, and even my pre-schooler knows already what death looks like, and what it means for those of us left behind.
i didn’t write this missive to give advice, but after tumbling around with these words for a spell, i say squeeze your little loves, all of them. look them in the eye and love them as much as you can. i’ve poured my heart into the eyes of my pets more than once, with just a meaningful stare and heart full of sentiment, and maybe a chin scratch. i’d do that right now if i had one of them attempting to assert, or rather, insert themselves between my face and this screen for some proper attention. which reminds me, forgive yourself for not always thinking it’s cute, for getting pissed at them even though you know they are being animals. just as they behave the way they are designed to behave, we are all human, and as such, we get irritated with our roommates.
thanks kitties, for being part of me, my identity, for 19 years. thanks for making it until i felt grown up enough to make it on my own. thanks for celebrating something like the halfway point of my life (given the same luck you enjoyed, of course. i am rather feline in nature…nine lives? some might argue i’ve used up a few). lydia – enjoy the eternally dripping water faucet in the sky and the snickers bar next to it. maggie – you curl up in your best circle on the softest, warmest, breathing cloud-bed you can find. enjoy the baby mice too, your infinite supply (hey, it’s kittie heaven, she wants it, she gets it).