Over 14 years ago, you chose me. You waited at my back door like you already knew me, and I’m sure you were not surprised when you ended up in the house and in my heart.
My mother calls you her first grandchild. (You’ve been joined by two grandchildren of the human variety, but I know you don’t think they rate nearly as high.)
From the beginning, you were one in a billion. You were at my side through marriage, through divorce, through several states and countless moves, and when you were introduced to Gary, you sized him up, perched on his knee with your paws folded beneath you, and regarded him like you were studying him. Or warning him. Either way, he passed your test, and when four kids tumbled into your life as well, you accepted them as part of our crazy family…as long as they stayed off your blanket and presented a steady supply of treats, of course.
You traveled with me on a plane; charmed the security guards at the airport; escaped from a second-story balcony and led me on a fantastic chase all over town; made me climb a tree and leap a fence to chase you yet again when you decided another cat had ventured much too close to our backyard for your comfort; tried to tell me you didn’t like my ex-husband (peeing on his sweatshirt wasn’t terribly subtle); reduced Gary to a pushover with your sad-eyes-and-silent-meow trick; and you taught me once and for all there is a distinct difference between the 50-cent can of Fancy Feast and the 75-cent can, the only one your high-class palate would endure.
Two years ago, a vet told me you wouldn’t make it even a few more weeks. You were back on your feet and in my lap in no time. Then, one year ago, as you lay paralyzed, another vet told me you wouldn’t make it through your illness. A few weeks later, you were sashaying around his examining room, flirting with the veterinary assistants, and if I wasn’t mistaken, darting defiant “How you like me now?” glances at that vet.
I will never forget laying face-to-face on the bed with you during that time, when you could barely move, when I didn’t know how much longer I would have you with me. You suddenly started to strain, struggle, and I felt tears burn my eyes. I thought you were in pain, or that the end was coming right now, and I wasn’t anywhere near ready. (I never would be.) Instead, you were just fighting to stretch out your front leg, and once your soft paw rested on my arm, you completely relaxed, almost seemed to smile, and peacefully dozed off. I fell asleep, too, with you comforting me.
The day after we told the kids you were gone, Dove told her daddy, “I dreamed about Tweetie.” She dreamed you were healthy again, walking straight instead of your side-to-side, swashbuckling swagger you adopted after being sick.
Bear told me through tears, “Tweetie was a tough soldier.”
He is right. You were tough, a fighter. You were that, and much more: you were gentle as a lamb and patient as could be with Dove, who has been fascinated with your every move since she was still tottering about in diapers, watching you, following you, so excited if you purred or gave her kisses. If you decided to settle into one of the kids’ laps, they practically burst with pride. You sent a 140-pound Rottweiler whining with tail tucked, yet you could also curl up and purr and make all my stress and worries disappear. You were demanding and stubborn, yet affectionate and loyal. You were comical. You were strong, proud, and independent, yet you were also snuggly and loving and soft.
You were my Tweetie. You were my cat, my buddy, my baby. You were family.
Above all, you were loved. Are still loved.
I hope, in between sunbeam-induced naps, crystal dishes of Fancy Feast (the 75-cent cans, naturally), and the plentiful treats that I am certain fill your days now, that you take a moment away from staging your overthrow of heaven to think of me every now and then, and that you rev up your maniacal purr and remember how I laughed when you rubbed my shoulder with your head, how I loved holding you and just feeling your soft fur, how you stole my favorite blanket every winter and wouldn’t give it back.
I am honored you chose me. I am honored we shared 14 years, and I am beyond honored that I was able to share your last moments with you, hold you, pet you, and be with you to your last breath. I would say I am proud I could be there to comfort you, but just like that night a year ago, we both know you were comforting me instead.