My best friend died today, on May 19, 2011.
There's some question about how old she was. She was at least 15 and perhaps as old as 17 (I'm inclined to believe the latter figure). Her owner (we never "owned" Dandylion, but these other people clearly did) were cat breeders and they weren't interested in her, only her kitten, so, once her baby was born, they basically discarded her back to the Kennel. They gave her nothing but life and her name, used her and threw her away.
Their loss. Our gain.
I grew up on a dairy. We had lots of cats. I've had a couple of other "indoor" cats, most notably Maxim, who was a very smart Russian Blue. I've never seen a smarter cat than Dandylion. She would watch stuff very closely and figure it out. She knocked on doors. She hated going to the Kennel (where she died, much to my eternal regret) so for years, she would outsmart me by finding new and creative places to hide. She knew that I was getting ready to leave because of the suitcases, I suppose, or some other clue. She would always meet me at the door, but not on days when I came home to take her to the Kennel. She would just be... gone. I would sometimes spend hours looking for her.
She also knew when I was hurting. She would crawl into bed with me, and put her paw gently on my face, like she was patting me. I've been extremely happy for the past 7 months, so I had almost forgotten this behavior, until today. She was with me through some of the worst times of my life. In fact, I owe her my life, several times over.
I'm no stranger to death, and I figured that she was going to die. I could either let her die comfortably at home (as I did with Maxim, who had a terminal and incurable illness), or go all-out, take her to the vet and hope that I was wrong. I'm not sure what comes after this life for animals, so I decided to try to preserve her life as long as I could. It's important to note that she wasn't in pain. She died at noon today at the vet. I am not sure that I made the right decision. I'm not happy that she died in a place that she hated without my presence.
I buried her in my back yard.
She's been sick for years, maybe 5 years, with an incurable severe liver condition. The vets were always been amazed at how active she was. I choose to believe that she just didn't want to bother us with her illness and that she willed her thyroid into hyperactivity in order to hide her condition - basically, burning her life up to act normal for us. This is her nature. It just couldn't be helped. She died like my Grandfather did. She acted healthy until the very end of her life.
This is how I choose to remember her.
The photo above is the last known picture of her, less than a month ago on April 24.
Here's where the useless husk of her body sits:
When I was a little kid, I asked someone at church, "Ok, I know all about what happens when people die, but what about animals? Do they go to heaven?" After a lot of hemming and hawing, the answer came back essentially, "No."
Almost no Christians that I know believe this, so if Christianity states believes that animals don't go to heaven, but no Christians that I know buy this, then what does that mean? What changes, Christians or Christianity?
I choose to believe that I will see her again. She'll be playing with a plastic milk tab, batting it around on the floor. She'll realize that I'm there, look at me for a second, smiling, before she looks down again and continues playing. If Christianity is about faith in things unseen at the heart of it, then I'll see her again. I'm sure of it.
And that's all that I have to say, except for the obvious: I'll miss her.
Goodbye, Meow-meow. I'll see you later! Have fun until then. Look up Maxim, if you would. He's pretty cool and I'm sure that you'll like him.