Reese’s health has been declining for a little over two weeks. Kidney issues. At this point she is no longer eating and can only use her back legs for staggering. Tomorrow, my husband and I will send her off after a good, long life.
It was maybe 13 or 14 years ago when she showed up in our front yard. It was night, and my husband and I were hosting a party. I was sitting on the porch swing surrounded by intoxicated friends when one of them heard a mewing under our boisterous conversation. We were shushed, and as the small crowd quieted down, I heard it, too. It was coming from the darkness beyond the porch light, right at the edge of our front yard. Moments later, a tiny, white kitten with a black smudge on its head crossed into the light, so small she had to high-step the grass. When I picked her up, her tiny body fit on the palm of my hand.
You will never fully understand the persuasive power of drunk friends until you confess your plan of taking the stray to a no-kill shelter at dawn. That is what I made the mistake of doing, and the outcry was instant, overwhelming, and pretty slurred considering how much they had to drink. It was a belligerence that didn’t settle until I promised that we would keep her. Hell, why not? We already had two too many cats. Why not make it three?
And so she stayed.
The husband and I couldn’t come up with a clever name for the new stray, so we ended up naming her after the street on which she was found: Reese. She had nicknames, though. My husband sometimes called her Pretty Pretty Princess because of her long, flowing white fur. I called her The Whore because I believed that when she came to our yard, she was actually “on duty.” You see, she wasn’t mewing for help; she was asking if we had any cats inside that wanted a good time.
Over time, her hobbies included chasing the red string, mimicking the sound of the squirrels she watched in the back yard, judging people, hiding from strangers, and telling you that she wants to be petted but walking away when you try to pet her. She was a finicky eater but ate well if you stayed and rested your hand on her back. And she once inspired poetry about shit scissors and comedy gold about how to keep cats out of Christmas trees.
This is our third goodbye, and it never gets easier. Right now, I hurt thinking that she doesn’t know this is the last day of her life, that tomorrow, my husband will wrap her in a towel, and I will drive us to her final destination. There we will give her pets as we say goodbye, and she’ll drift to sleep for good. My husband and I will come home empty-handed and with heavy hearts.
The sadness will fade sooner or later. It has before. It’s the getting through it that sucks. I hope that life gives us time to grieve. No stressful work situations. No family crisis. Just time to reflect and mourn for the Pretty Pretty Princess Whore.