You can’t tell me that some things are not meant to be. She was destined to be mine before she even existed. I truly believe that. She was found all alone in a parking lot as such a wee baby by my neighbor who was taking her home to his kids. He stuck her little body in my front door before even going home to show me what he had found. So cute, so tiny and to me, the perfect colors of a nice French Toast breakfast. And so she was named.
She grew up in a hectic household with small kids and loud adults and when let outside to roam always came right to me. I would sit on the porch on weekend mornings drinking coffee and reading the paper and she would climb into my lap and suck on my sleeve. They would scold her for that but I would let her knead and suck…it was just a shirt and she got so much joy from it.
She disappeared one winter and was gone for three days. She was maybe a year old. They didn’t look for her but I did. It was so cold and the snow was falling. They said she would come home eventually. I found her on that third day, in sight of the front doors of our condos sitting on a rock in the snow. A tom cat nearby didn’t like me approaching but she ran to me. I put her in my coat to warm her up and brought her home. They came and got her later that day. Some weeks later she delivered four kittens in their closet. One died at birth and two others before their first birthday from heart abnormalities. One made it several years and though he had a butterfly chest, had the potential to live a long life. His people betrayed him and he was poisoned by a neighbor who didn’t like him in her yard.
French Toast would move with her people a few times but was never happy as a house cat. She became aggressive to the puppy they got and they didn’t like that. They had a plan to move to the country where I knew she would be let out and meet a bad end. People where they were going held no value on animals of any kind and she would not be safe. I had visited over the holidays and she was not happy. When I visited again a few months later she had lost a lot of weight and I knew she was not well. As they prepared to leave I threw the offer out there…I would like to bring her home to the condo life she knew and loved. Without hesitation they said yes and so she became mine at last. She was about 5 when she finally found her forever home with me.
We went right to the vet where they found her mouth very inflamed causing her liver values to be very off. We started her on antibiotics and scheduled a dental which fixed her right up. After a rough start with my other girls they learned to tolerate each other. The balance of power shifted all the time but she tried to make friends. She was allowed to cross territory and the other two yielded a bit. There were still fights and some yelling but we all managed. It was safe here for all of them to go out and I would sit on the porch and they would wander the lawn.
She loved to lay in the grass although when she walked across it would do a little prance as the blades of grass tickled her toes. She sometimes would get the crazies out on the lawn and zoom across the lawn and jump up on the trunk of the maple tree and just hang there. She loved to climb the crab apple tree and hang in the branches like a panther lounging in the sun.
She would visit the neighbors and they always loved her. Even the neighbor’s dog loved her although she didn’t appreciate her affections and bloodied her nose every chance she got. She would walk through any open window or door as if it were her right. I got many a call to come get my cat who had made herself comfy on a neighbor’s couch or bed.
At night Toast would sleep on one side and Sabeen on the other with my body as the neutral ground. Keena would not yield that much and stayed in her self proclaimed kingdom. I can count on one hand the times they were all on my small couch together…never touching, always wary.
Her meow changed over the years with the last incarnation being just “ack”. I always called her my little girl with the ever changing meow. If only she could talk so I could understand her better. She was working on it but I wasn’t getting it.
As all my girls were growing older, the neighborhood was no longer safe. The familiar people moved away, construction crews took down the trees all around us and cars no longer watched for the kitties that were always around. My girls became indoor only. They were not happy but had the windows, a birdfeeder to watch and toys and I did my best to keep them happy. Chipmunks came back to the garden and a squirrel would sit on the kitchen sill begging for peanuts in the winter. Toast would just sit and watch them although she really wanted those chipmunks. She would chirp and chatter at them as they ran around under the window.
In April of 2009 all three girls had their senior checkups and were pronounced relatively healthy. Toast was the youngest at 13 and though she had gained weight as an indoor kitty she had no issues. I admit I referred to her as The Fat One for some time. Sabeen was 15 and still had teeth issues and Keena was 16 and had tummy troubles although the rest of her issues had not gotten any worse. I had been preparing myself for a long time that with Sabeen and Keena both having had mast cell cancer they would not be around too much longer. Toast, with her oh so human personality, would get me through losing them and finally have me to herself as she always wanted.
It was not to be. I came home from work on July 2, looking forward to a long weekend to find Toast very lethargic and vomiting green. There was nothing she could get into that would cause this and we rushed to the vet who sent us to the ER. She had turned yellow and I knew this was not good. An ultrasound the next day showed a mass on her pancreas but with no surgeon available for the holiday weekend we would have to wait.
I visited throughout the weekend and the ER staff was very accommodating. I spent hours talking with her, holding her, brushing her and we even stepped out onto the porch so she could feel the sun and smell the breeze. With a park across the street and birds all around it seemed to perk her up. She did not want to eat and had her paw bandaged where they had inserted a catheter for her IV. I brought her an empty Fancy Feast box to lay in…her favorite thing and she settled into it…a piece of home. She had terrible dandruff from being so ill and she was still very yellow. She kept her personality and yelled at me to take her home. I so wanted to…to sleep with her one more time. To lay on the couch and have her climb up to try and fit next to me. To hold her upside down like a baby and play with her feet, and have her curl her toes around my finger. To feel her paw smack me when she didn’t get what she wanted. To go to bed and have her lay next to my head so I could use her as a pillow. In the winter she kept me so warm that way. She loved to watch thunderstorms from the dryness of the house and would sit on the sill and watch the lightning crawl across the sky. We shared one more of those from the door of the hospital.
That whole weekend while people were having picnics and parties I sat on my couch and cried. I drove to the hospital and cried. I visited as long as I could then drove home crying. I couldn’t eat and slept only from exhaustion. The other girls knew she was not there but didn’t seem to care that much. They thought she would come home eventually. I knew in my heart that it wasn’t to be but I needed to try. I owed it to her as a part of my heart to try knowing the worst decision of my life lay before me if the news was not good. I talked to many vets each day as they each took over their shift and only one gave me any hope. The one who kept giving me the gravest news was not a favorite and seemed to have no depth to her. She didn’t seem very caring and my girl was just another animal to her. Little did I know…
That Saturday night I thought I felt her jump on the bed and lay next to me. She had a way she laid on me that was unique to her… It scared me so much but no phone call came to give me any bad news. I did find out a friend’s kitty passed on that day but I never met this kitty and this friend lived very far away and just thought I was imagining things. I think this kitty came to tell me it was ok and she would be there when Toast showed up to show her around.
I arranged to go to work on Monday very early in case the surgeon wanted to do surgery that day. I would not let them touch her without being able to talk with her and explain what was happening not to mention say goodbye. I made numerous phone calls and got two surgeons to look at her. The one at the ER thought he could help her and could do the surgery that morning while the other wanted her to wait two more days. That would not do and I left work and got to the ER as soon as I could.
The hospital was so crowded and the staff was not ready for me…a mess and in tears. People with appointments had no care for me and the urgency of the situation and were annoyed that they had to wait for their regular appointments due to the many emergencies that were going on. I stood in tears near the door…no one offered to move over even a little so I could sit. I was so angry at them as my heart was breaking and needing to see my girl before they took her away. Puppies and kittens just starting out and my girl was leaving me.
I finally got some time with her and explained to her what was going to happen. I told her Momma loved her so much that a man was going to try to fix her tummy and make it better. If he could do it she would wake up here again but I would be here and we would keep her from feeling ouchy. If the man couldn’t help she would wake up in the land of sunshine and grass and trees called the Bridge and that I would be there to get her someday. I told her how much I loved her and sang some of the little songs we shared over the years. And then I watched them take her away from me.
I went to my car and called a dear friend to fill her in and have someone to cry with. She was 5 hours away from me and all we could do was cry on the phone with each other. She agreed to update Toast’s kitty friends on Meowmail Town and ask them to purr for her as hard as they could.
The vet I didn’t like finally came out to update me and I could see her in the rearview mirror crying as she walked to the car. She didn’t even have to speak…I just knew. I cried into the phone…anguish overtook me and my heart burst apart. They let me visit with her in the surgery suite. We talked some more and after a time they vet came in and we sent her on her next adventure to the Bridge. She cried with me for a time and talked about her life.
On July 6, 2009 at 2 pm my girl earned her wings. My heart was in pieces and I didn’t know what to do with myself. The vet tried to tell me I did the best for her but it just wasn’t right. She had finally found love and care that she deserved and just didn’t have enough time. She was with me for only 8 years. She was supposed to be the last one to go…the one to take the pain away from losing her elder sisfurs. It wasn’t right. All the money in the world couldn’t save her, all the love I had for her couldn’t save her, and nothing I could have done would have averted this. The cancer was just too aggressive.
I called her former people and let them know…we had tried to stay friends over the years. They didn’t seem to care that much really and it hurt me. What did please me was the one time they came to visit Toast snubbed them. Yelled in her demanding way and flipped her tail and walked away from them. That girl knew who loved her for real.
My other girls seemed to know that Toast was now not coming home. I looked for her or a sign from her that she had made the journey safely but I didn’t get anything right away. I cried for days…I cried at work, I cried in the car, I cried all the time. Distraught is the only word that works.
The girls starting staring at nothing and Keena would cry and stare at my desk. At the place Toast used to sit while I was online. Sabeen seemed to wait for her to come to bed so we could all settle down together like we always did. She may have been here but I couldn’t feel her.
I thought I saw shadows moving down the hall but dismissed them to problems I have with my eyes. No dreams came, I couldn’t feel her, or hear her or see her. And no signs came for a couple of weeks.
Then just as she lived she slammed me with signs. Songs came on the radio that were not common…songs I had altered and sung to her were playing all the time. A lost comb that she loved suddenly turned up…her beloved purple mouse reappeared. Apparently I wasn’t listening well enough so she had to take things into her own paws…as in life she smacked me with that paw and made me get it together.
The one thing her former people did was assign her birthday as the same day as mine. Today is the first birthday I have without her and it just hurts so much. I can almost feel her in my arms…almost. And it isn’t the same. She would have been 14 today…and I miss her. So much more time than others have had with their babies but still not enough.
I thank all the veterinary staff for their help, support and understanding. I thank the friends who really understand what her loss means to me and were there with such kind words at the time I needed to hear them. I thank God for bringing her to me and giving me those years with her. She was such a little person in that kitty body and there will never ever be another like her.
I heard this song by The Moody Blues this past fall…not one that ever gets played on the radio but I heard it when I was thinking of her and it fits…She loved fall and chasing leaves. I think she sent this one too.
The summer sun is fading as the year grows old
And darker days are drawing near
The winter winds will be much colder
Now you're not here
I watch the birds fly south across the Autumn sky
And one by one they disappear
I wish that I was flying with them
Now you're not here
Like the sun through the trees you came to love me
Like a leaf on the breeze you blew away
Through Autumn's golden gown we used to kick our way
You always loved this time of year
Those fallen leaves lie undisturbed now
Cause you're not here
Like the sun through the trees you came to love me
Like a leaf on the breeze you blew away
A gentle rain falls softly on my weary eyes
As if to hide a lonely tear
My life will be forever Autumn
Cause you're not here
I love you so much little girl…I miss you more than I can stand and wish you were still here to celebrate our birthday. A thunderstorm is moving in and I wish you were here to watch with me. Happy birthday baby…Momma loves you. 4/22/2010