Sunday, November 14, 2010

On Love and Loss

Earlier this week, we had to put our oldest cat down. It was probably the worst time ever, since I was recovering from complications from a lumbar puncture. But that's a separate story. Well, is there ever a good time to break a bone when you're a 17-year-old cat? I knew something like this was bound to happen. He was old. He was frail. But I was completely unprepared, emotionally and physically. He spent a fair bit of time in bed with me and even though he was bony and not very soft, it was endearing to have him close and purring. Two old souls.

I got him at a time when I was hurting emotionally -- my husband (then boyfriend) and I had broken up because we were in a long-distance relationship and he had taken a job in Belgium and I felt he was moving in the wrong direction. I loved him so very much and wanted him in the same country. The same state would've been better. So I ended the relationship, and got this kitten instead. Eight months later, I was still miserable, as well as him (the boyfriend, not the kitten), so we decided to make concrete plans to physically be together. We got married and the rest is history. Oh, we were so young and so stupid, putting our careers above our love. Now I tell young people that love is more important, to not sacrifice it.

Moje was a great cat. A feisty little thing. Adventurous. When I finished my PhD I couldn't bear to be parted with him, so he came to Belgium with us for my postdoc at the Max Planck Institute in Germany. He's been well-travelled. He's been everywhere I've been and a great companion. I've missed him terribly when my husband I got married and went on our honeymoon. Luckily, our hosts had just gotten a kitten and I got to play with it.

Here's a photo of him when he was five years old and still not quite happy about getting the black cat. I was pregnant with our first baby at the time. But they became great friends after the baby was born and I was busy. She misses him the most now and follows me around quite a bit.

Then the babies came. He didn't like them at the beginning either -- but he was curious and wanted to be in the middle of everything.

He was the best babysitter ever, putting the kids to sleep.

He endured being treated like a stuffed animal.

He checked the homework routinely so that I wouldn't have to.

He taught both my kids to read.

In his later years, we added a puppy and two kittens. He tolerated them. But he was always top cat. He spent much of his time curled up, sleeping, but even so, he had his daily heebie-jeebies. He still nipped my toes and demanded to be picked up. I always did, no matter what I was doing.

Moje loved a good time and enjoyed Christmas and being part of the fun.

We miss you Moje. I am sure you are enjoying kitty heaven, chasing angel toes and sitting in all the available laps.


Marcia said...

What a super picture tribute. And I love this line:

"Oh, we were so young and so stupid, putting our careers above our love. Now I tell young people that love is more important, to not sacrifice it."

YES! Today's young people have it all backwards, and my baby boom generation basically did the twisting. I supported my daughter when she was 19 and wanted to marry. Others did too, but not as wholeheartedly. I mean, you just don't marry that young these days. Well, it's now 6.5 years later and she has the husband, the degree, a half-time job, a house, and a baby on the way. To dictate that "the one" can't come along until after your career is set is just as silly as dictating it any other time.

Suman said...

What a great tribute to Moje. He surely has been one of your most loyal companions...
I've not been a pet person but I know if I were to ever get one and I probably will when I'm old, that it will become my best friend. For animals are so much more loyal to their master than even friends are.

I love all the pics of Moje. I hope that you are at peace knowing that he lived a full life. I don't know of any cat that lived as long as he did. Lots of good memories.

Vijaya said...

Marcia, thanks so much for all the commiseration and support. Oh, it's wonderful that you supported your daughter -- and how wonderful that you will be a grandmother! I met my husband when I was 19 and although I wasn't ready to marry then, I was probably ready in my early 20s. Wish we had. We'd had had a boatload of kids! That's our biggest regret. But we're so happy we ended up together and that God blessed us with our two that we have.

Suman, pets are truly wonderful. The best part is that you don't have to raise them to be good people! They can be naughty until the very end.

Nancy said...

What wonderful pictures! When I've lost pets, I find myself sorting through photos as well; it's a way of finding solace. But when I saw the pictures of Max and Dagny with Moje, I started to wonder how they were doing since he died. They must be so sad, too.

Vijaya said...

Nancy, thank you for stopping by and admiring the pictures. The kids are doing surprisingly well. Max made a collage on the computer and Dagny drew pictures. They are coping well. The kittens help tremendously.

Africakid said...

Aww, rest in peace, Moje.
I still miss our cat Seashell too.
Sending virtual hugs your way... The pictures are great, especially of Moje supervising homework!

Vijaya said...

Thank you, Africakid. I stopped by your blog and saw you lost your mom recently. May she enjoy the company of Jesus in heaven forever more.

Faith E. Hough said...

Hi! I just found your blog through Angela Cerrito's site; I was so excited to see a writer embrace and pronounce her Catholicism that I had to stop by. :)
I'm so sorry about your beautiful kitty...but it sounds as though his life was as full as a cat could ever hope for. You must miss him very much.

Vijaya said...

Faith, thank you for stopping and offering your words of comfort and support. Yes, Christ is the center of our lives. He maketh all things new!

Bish Denham said...

Oh Vijaya! I'm so sorry for the loss of Moje. I know how hard it must have been. But what a gift he gave to your kids...teaching them how to read!

Great pictures.

Vijaya said...

Bish, I couldn't have raised the kids half as well without Moje's help. Thanks so much for stopping by at this busy time.

Write2ignite said...

Sounds like what my cat would do.
I am sorry for your loss. I know how it feels.