From My WindowIssue Date: October 28, 2021
The Passing of the Queen
By Jane Thibodeau Martin,
Mike and I bid goodbye to a friend last week. It wasn't totally unexpected, and she only entered our lives a bit over a year ago, but it was still painful.
I have been volunteering several times a week at a "no kill" animal shelter for almost three years. My initial fear was that I'd want to bring all the animals home with me, but I soon learned that nearly all of them found good homes eventually, with the few that don't, spoiled and well-cared for at the shelter. So for two years, I never came close to adding another member to our currently six-strong animal family, contrary to the predictions anyone who knows me made ?? and I myself feared.
But then trouble started. I took the initial intake call on this one which was a big part of the problem. A man with a cat problem ?? his mother's cat. And he was from out of town, and mom had to go to a memory care center that very week. The cat she'd had for nearly 15 years would become homeless, and a resolution had to be found, fast.
When the sweet senior arrived, I was smitten. She didn't like to be carried, but it was obvious she was used to a lot of lap time. I couldn't help grieving this unfortunate parting of the human and feline friends, torn away from one another in the early winter of both of their lives. She was used to a quiet and loving home, and the shelter environment, especially the sound of the barking dogs, made her uncomfortable. Even elderly pets like her usually find new homes eventually, but we had lost our 17 year old senior cat not long before, and this cat really reminded me of Emma. We could provide her with the housing accommodation Emma had enjoyed, a couple of quiet rooms in our home shielded from our dogs, since she clearly didn't like dogs.
But a big part of my motivation was I really wanted her owner to know, if she was capable of absorbing the information, that her little tortoiseshell cat had found a soft landing. My saintly husband agreed and Emma's heated cat bed came out of storage. Queen Elizabeth* moved in with us, seemingly adjusting overnight. As soon as I got her home, I dropped the owner's son a personal note. I told him if his mom asked about her cat to tell her she was safe in a good home with a shelter volunteer, and that if he wanted a picture to reassure his mom, I would send one.
The Queen was a heat-seeking missile for laps, and no one could work on the desktop computer without her boarding and settling on you. She was underweight, but seemed content, often sitting on a blanket in front of a window watching the outside world. When we adopted her, I knew it might only be a few months before her age caught up with her, but she did quite well for a year, until last week.
On Friday, I noticed some changes and at the vet's office Monday, a tumor was found. As the vet said, there is no "good" tumor in a now 16 year old cat. Since she clearly was starting to show symptoms of the tumor, it would have been easier to just euthanize her then. Somehow, something uncharacteristically made me want to wait just one day; maybe the shock of it. So she came home for a good last evening, with her favorite human tuna for dinner and breakfast, and lap time with Mike and me.
I returned with her to the vet the next morning for a kind death.
It was an easy call to prevent needless suffering for her. And she is missed here, despite her relatively short residence. But I am finding comfort in a new and unfamiliar way.
Unlike most of our animals, who are with us a decade or much more, her heart belonged to someone else. And when the Queen arrives at the "rainbow bridge," that place that animals go when they die before their people, she may find her special person already waiting for her. If not; I am sure her long-time owner will be along soon. Because that is the person most important to the Queen, not us. We are just people who loved this little cat for a bit, until it was her time to go on.
I take comfort in picturing the Queen being back in the lap of her owner; both of them content and together again, forever.
*I have changed the name of the cat to protect the identity of the people who surrendered her.
I wish all of you a safe, fun Halloween; hopefully with a couple of trick or treaters dropping in. Have your candy ready and if you aren't blessed with visitors, you certainly can't let it go to waste.
You can reach me for commentary, alternative viewpoints or ideas at this e-mail address: JanieTMartin@gmail.com.
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