Avery and Me

Avery and Me

Friday, January 8, 2010

A Life Well Lived

Hi Lovely Readers....
With a heavy heart I tell you my husband's cat of 18 years passed away yesterday after an accident.  My sister in law backed over her and she passed on a few hours later at the vets' office.  My husband is an amazing writer and Bug's death affected him greatly.  I wanted to share the "obituary" he wrote for her.  I cry everytime I read it. 

Bugs 1992-2010 by Steve Shuler

In a way, it's my fault my family is grieving over the loss of a loved one.....

It was the summer of 1994 when she came to our home in Knoxville.  She was skinny, nothing remarkable.  But she picked us.  We certainly didn't pick her.  We had no idea this cat would become such a big part of our lives at this point.  Why she stayed, I have no idea.  LeighAnne and Lara, both too young to know better, tortured the poor soul.  Sprayed with a water hose.  Swung around by the tail.  Stuffed into a dresser drawer.  Mom and Dad couldn't understand why the cat was scratching my sisters.  They were ready to give her to a shelter.  But it's my fault we're all sad this week.  I fought for her.  I told them she was defending her life against two enemies that were innocently attacking her.  One day, Mom saw the girls swinging the cat around and realized the cat was just trying to stay alive.  The girls learned how to have a cat.  And the blame fell on me.  If I hadn't fought, hadn't defended her, she'd have gone to a shelter, and we wouldn't have lost her. 

We named her Bugs.  One day, when we were all outside, the came up proudly displaying a grasshopper she caught.  It wasn't her last catch, either.  The name stuck.  And so did the cat.  Her brother, however, didn't.  We named him Willy (after the coyote), but I don't think any of us actually petted him.  He was skittish, untrusting.  But Bugs would eat half her food and leave the other half for him, every time.  They would lie sunning together on top of our homemade playground.  Inseparable.  One night, Bugs and Willy got inot a loud brawl with another cat.  Dad, in an effort to break it up, threw his shoe at the unwelcome party.  Hit Willy right in the head.  So much for diplomacy with Willy.  We would eventually move to another home, leaving Willy behind.  But Bugs stayed with us.

When she was about four or five years old, we knew she was something special.  Bugs had an unmistakeable air about her.  Two minutes with her, and you understood why the Egyptians worshiped cats as gods.  No matter the situation, she always appeared above it all.  She was a beautiful snob.  You couldn't take your eyes off her, and she didn't really care what you were looking at.  Charismatic and indifferent.  This was no cat that acted like a dog for attention.  There was no begging, no need for others to love her.  Queens don't need those things.

But if you forgot her indelible attitude, you would never forget her coat.  I could pet a hundred cats a day for the rest of my life, and never find a coat like that.  So silky it reflected light at times.  So soft you could bury your head in her side and fall asleep.  If she let you.  But she would let you pet her, all the time.  She did love recieving attention.  And with a coat so exquisite, you could pet her for hours and never miss the time.  She would actively participate in the attention, tip-toeing on her back paws to get her nose extended to the end of you hand.  If you stopped, even to find the remote or scratch your nose, her head would soon poke into your arm, demanding to know why you would stop such a luxurious exercise with such a royal creature.  She would even roll onto her back and let you scratch her abdomen.  Even if she had just met you, it was acceptable.  But Bugs had her limits.  She would not sit on your lap.  And she would not purr.  I can only remember twice in the past 16 years that she purred.  That was a gift far too valuable to just give to anybody.

Bugs left a mark on everybody she met.  Whether you met her once, or knew her most of her life, you remembered her.  She was the best.  There is no argument.  No, she didn't save our lives by waking us up in a fire, and she didn't learn tricks like some dog.  Royalty doesn't serve such a common purpose.  She would sit on her shoebox throne and rest contentedly while her servants carried out the menial tasks of the day.  Let the other dogs and cat learn the tricks and wrestle and chase squirrels.  When Bugs was good and ready, she decided when you were priviledged enough to earn a few moments in her presence.  More people and more pets came into our family, year after year.  but there was no doubt who our queen, the ruler of our home, was. 

As she aged, she only added to her legacy.  Her hearing went away, and so did some of her wits.  She was slower, more deliberate, more apt to relax for hours on end.  But still aloof.  With age only came a more royal attitude, no pathetic whining here.  As queens age, they only become more regal.  As did Bugs.

Her final day came by accident.  She made a mistake she never would have made in her younger years, walking behind a moving car.  The driver never saw her.  Family rushed her to the vet, but her injuries were too much.  I wasn't there.  But they tell me even in her final few moments, she refused to beg, to take off her crown.  Despite the broken pelvis and crushed bladder, she was still our queen.  Occasionally, a cry of pain.  But royalty knows better than to show weakness.

In a way, I'm so glad I wasn't there.  It would have crushed me to see her like that at the end.  My last memory of her finds her in her shoebox throne, slowly blinking at me, wondering what I was doing, but not interested enough to find out.  Still above it all.  That's how she'll always be, to me.  And to everyone in my family.  And to everyone she met.  Whether God will allow cats in heaven, I don't know.  But if He gazes throughout history, and only permits one feline in, it will be this one.  It will be Bugs.  Undoubtably.

Long live the Queen.  We'll miss you.

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