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    Friday, June 01, 2007

    Good night, sweet princess...

    She came into our lives on a whim. We had only had indoor cats in the past but we lived deep in the woods and mice were building nests in the motor of my husband's truck. So we went to the local shelter and picked out two beautiful sister cats to bring home. We were young and silly so we opened up the pet carrier on the back deck. One of the cats (later christened "The Nemesis") took off like a shot, never to be seen again.

    Queenie also took off and she sat at the top of the hill meowing plaintively all afternoon while we tried to coax her into returning to her new home. The sun was almost setting when she finally came trundling down that hill and into our arms.

    In a shocking development, we learned that Queenie was already pregnant when we brought her home. She gave birth to her kittens in our Doberman's dog house (he was a very longsuffering dog) and we found homes for all of them before getting her spayed. Although we had planned for her to be an outdoor cat, on the very first cold day of that year, she came and stood patiently at the door. I opened it and let her in. She wouldn't leave us again for eighteen years.

    I always said she was the perfect cat because she literally had no faults. She was so polite that if she had to throw up, she would run to the litter box and do it there. She was the only cat we ever had who actually earned her keep--proudly bringing mice and moles to the back door just as we were sitting down to supper. I once saw her eat an entire snake.

    When I look through our photo albums, Queenie is like the Forrest Gump of cats. We have pictures of her with almost every friend and every pet we ever had. Being the perfect cat, Queenie did us the wonderful courtesy of living longer than any of our other pets.

    In the past two years of her life, she became even more attached to me. I couldn't sit down on the couch for five minutes without her crawling into my lap and purring up a storm. She followed me everywhere and would even sit on the side of the bathtub when I bathed. One day I opened the shower door and almost hit her in the head because she was patiently waiting for me to emerge.

    She started declining last Thanksgiving. I remember lying on the couch with her purring on my chest and tears rolling down my cheeks asking God if he could please just let her last through the holidays because I wasn't ready to say goodbye yet. Since God is incredibly kind and I didn't specify which holiday, she almost made it to Memorial Day.

    At eighteen years old, she was over 80 years old in people years. I knew she was failing but she still seemed to find such great pleasure in her daily life that I couldn't make that final decision. I prayed for God to let us know when it was time. He gave us our answer one Sunday afternoon when we returned from a church retreat.

    I had been lying in the sunroom reading for only a few minutes when she laid down on my chest and started purring like she always does. But just a few minutes later, she started acting very strangely--lifting up one paw and acting like she couldn't put it down, then doing the same thing with the other. Then when she tried to get up, she fell. It was almost like she was having a stroke. I started bawling and asking, "Queenie, what's wrong? What's wrong, baby?" But I knew I had the answer I had been asking God to give me. I had been praying that He would let us know for sure that it was time to let go, that He would give us a sign that would remove all doubt.

    We phoned her vet and even though he wasn't on call, he rushed to the clinic to minister to her. She died with me and my husband gently stroking her fur and telling her what a good cat she was.

    For eighteen years she was my furry little touchstone. I wrote 17 books during that time. We moved to the city. Other pets came and went and we learned that friends sometimes come and go too. We lost grandparents. My mom went into the nursing home. Our nephew died. But our Queenie-cat was always there, good for a cuddle and a purr whenever we desperately needed one.

    I miss you, sweetheart. You left a big hole in our home and in our hearts. But we were so incredibly blessed to have you for so long. May flights of angels sing you to your rest.

    24 comments:

    Lady Jane said...

    Oh, Teresa, I'm so sorry! You and your family are in my prayers. :)We had to put our beloved (and only just 8 years old) dog to sleep on 2 June 2006 because she had cancer. It is never easy to lose a beloved pet because, even though they are not human, they give us so much love! God bless you!

    RitaSV said...

    Teresa, I'm very sorry to hear about poor Queenie. Pet doesn't seem a very appropriate term for someone so important to us, does it? Friend, companion, comforter...I could go on.

    Bless you for giving Queenie the loving home she so clearly deserved. Sounds like she showed you her appreciation every day for her happy, love filled life.

    Teresa Medeiros said...

    lady jane and rivasv, thank you so much for your sweet comments! We've lost several dogs before their time, lady jane, and I'm so sorry to hear about yours!

    Gram said...

    This brought back memories of us petting our dog and telling her that she was the best as the vet injected her. Even though it has been a year and a half, the tears still come.
    My thoughts and prayers are with you.

    Darla said...

    I'm so sorry for your loss! Fuzzies hold a special place in our hearts, they are always there to listen, love, and give...all unconditionally. May your memories help ease your sorrow.

    Ana Maria said...

    Teresa, I'm so sorry to hear about Queenie. What a beautiful tribute you've written to a faithful friend. My heart is breaking for you.

    My dog, Duke, is 12 and he's showing his age more and more. And my elderly friend Jean's cat, Angel, is 22 and hanging by a thread. She's the oldest cat I've ever met.

    Hugs from me to you.

    Teresa Medeiros said...

    Gram,
    I've known for the last six months that Queenie's time was coming and I think the thing I was dreading most was being with her at the end. But it was so quick and so peaceful and she just looked like she was sleeping. You dog was blessed to have you by her side to ease her passing.

    Teresa Medeiros said...

    And thank you darla and ana maria! Ana maria, I can't believe you know a cat that's 22 years old. That's amazing! :)

    Anonymous said...

    Oh Teresa what a lovely tribute you wrote for your Queenie i cried so much for you and her. Don't worry your little lady is watching over you. Love and hugs form Effie in Australia.

    Teresa Medeiros said...

    Thank you Effie! At the moment Buffy the Mouse Slayer is sitting on my desk trying to get a drink of my Sonic slurpee and cheering me up :)

    Cindy said...

    Teresa: I know the aching loss inside your heart, the hole that no other feline will be able to fill. We lost Squeaks, our 23 year old cat, last fall....the pain still lingers and always will....like Queenie, she was always there. Time will help ease your ache, but when someone says, "she's just a cat, get over it and move on...." Just smile at their inability to understand the gift of love that only a pet can give....especially since pets choose who they will and won't adore. My deep sympathy to you and yours on the loss of your 'loved one', a member of your family in every single ways...

    Warmly,
    Cindy Nord

    gina said...

    Omg, that was so sad.. I'm so sorry about Queenie. So sounded like the perfect cat.
    I've never had a pet, but I can imagine the pain of losing one so dear and close to your heart.

    My condolences to you and your family. Take care and God bless!

    xoxo
    Gina

    Jen said...

    My condolences on your loss of Queenie, Teresa. I've lost several beloved pets over the years, but none will hurt me more than when I lose my Frasier. He's a terrier mix my husband gave to me as a Valentine's Day gift. He is my constant companion. I rue the day when he is too sick to go on.

    Queenie is no longer in pain and no longer suffering. God is merciful in showing us signs, isn't He? That doesn't make it any easier to let them go. Again, I'm very sorry.

    I've been in touch with you off and on over the years for writing advice, but it wasn't until a couple of years or so ago that I discovered your website with your "babies." They're all adorable, and I'm sure the new little one will be a lot of fun to watch grow and play. There is no replacement for Queenie, but I just know you have a lot of love to give the new kid on the block. And I'm sure Buffy won't have one single problem with showing the new kid the ropes . . . or who's boss!

    littleherron said...

    *crying* Actually, your sick kitty situation sounds a lot like my present one; she's just enjoying life too much while running up outrageous vet bills.
    Every time I've ever lost a pet (or passed a particularly sad bit of roadkill, for that matter) I find comfort in imagining the critter in the arms of God, being lovingly stroked and generaly spoiled. Maybe that kind of visualization will be of some comfort to you?

    Teresa Medeiros said...

    Hi Cindy and Jen and Gina! It's always wonderful to "see" a familiar face out here in cyberspace. I appreciate all of the words of comfort.

    I've never ascribed to the "Oh, they're just a cat/dog" theory myself either. Because who do you spend more time with? Who is always there for you to offer unconditional love?

    And little herron, what a beautiful visualization! It definitely gives me comfort. I always think it's amazing how God sends certain animals into your life exactly when you need them the most.

    Dena said...

    Hi Teresa,
    As I read your post about Queenie it brought tears to my eyes. Queenies was a wonderful cat, I am amazed that she would go to the litter box to throw up! What a great hunter too! My thoughts are with your family. Our beloved calico Precious passed away in December just before her 14th birthday.We miss her soooo much.We still have her daughter[a calico too]that turned 12 in March and a grey tabby that is 8.I hope they will be around a lot longer as they are more than pets,they are our family.

    Angelica said...

    Teresa, I'm so sorry for the lost of your beloved Queenie.

    Reading your tribute to her reminded me of my dog Buddy.
    He passed away Christmas Day a year ago. He was 19 years old and I think if he could he would have stayed with us another 19 years. Buddy was a fighter, he had two strokes a couple of months before and I was ready to let him go then, but my dad said to let him fight. He was paralyzed on his left side so I would have to spoon feed him his meals, after three months he recovered. Around Christmas time he started failing, but I knew he didn't want to go yet. I sat with him Christmas eve and I told him how it was okay for him to rest, we would be okay. When I woke up the next morning he was gone. I miss him but I know he is in a better place.

    Buddy and Queenie are examples of those rare furry companions who find such a special place in our hearts. They set the standards hight for any other furry companions who come after.

    Teresa Medeiros said...

    Dena and angelica, thank you so much for your lovely comments. I loved reading about Precious and Buddy. We had a Doberman named Joe for 7 years after we first got married and he has definitely been a hard act to follow. He was one of those dogs whose spirit seemed almost human.

    But on a positive note, we bring home our new kitty tomorrow! :)

    Anonymous said...

    Oh, Terrie~~
    That was so sweet, and sad. I'm so sorry!! My doggies are like my kids~~I can't even imagine loosing one.
    Big hugs~~
    Mimmi

    Elizabeth said...

    Teresa, I read your post with tears in my eyes, for it brought back the loss of our dear Lydia two years ago. Like Queenie, she was the dearest cat alive, and at 17 was still a regal lady. I did the same thing you did when I realized she was sick, bargained for a little more time, got it, but when the time came, it was still so very hard to let her go. She'd moved countless times with us, welcomed in (well endured) the arrival of babies, and caught every kind of varmit that came near HER house.

    I hope that Queenie has a sunny spot in a window in heaven to bask in. She sounds like she deserves it.

    Haven Rich said...

    My goodness Teresa! I'm so sorry for your loss!

    Being owned by a cat, to me, is the best thing in the world. And when my husband and I brought Amy into our lives, I never imagined that we'd end up with 7 owners. My kids are only 5, 4 and 2 (all kitties) and I pray they give me as many years as you had with your beloved Queenie.

    Such a wonderful story to remember her by! I'm glad Buffy is taking it well, since I know that cats can slip into depression just as easy as a human.

    My prayers are with your family (including the fuzzy ones).

    LizJ said...

    So sorry to hear about your cat, Teresa. We had a similar experience with our 18 year old Mane Coon cat last year, DeeDee. One minute she was in fairly good health, the next she had a stroke. We also had to make the difficult choice you did, but I know it was best for the poor thing not to suffer. DeeDee had a good life, and it sounds like Queenie did as well.

    Anne Mallory said...

    Teresa, I'm so sorry for your loss. What a lovely and sad post. Many hugs for you, Queenie and the rest of your family. :(

    G said...

    This is such a sweet posting...your cat sounded very special to you, as my cat is to me. She's asleep on my lap now as I write. Thank you for taking the time to write, your cat loved you very much and she knew you loved her too.