In loving memory of my Shadow

Pets have a way of stepping into our hearts, grabbing hold, and never letting go, no matter how long we have them. The first year Randy and I got married, we adopted Sandy. He was one year old, an orange tabby, and one of the most tolerant, loving cats we'd ever known. (I wrote an article about him in Cat in the Window, The: And Other Stories of the Cats We Love Edited by Callie Smith Grant. Sandy lived 21 years. (See his picture below.) That's long for a cat, but he spoiled us with love and life. Saying goodbye to him was hard on all of us. The day after we took him to the humane society, we adopted Shadow. I honestly never expected to be writing this about Shadow. I guess when one cat lives to be 21, 14 seems like a kid. But Shadow wasn't like Sandy. He was a feral cat, probably born outdoors. He was always alert, ready with an escape plan. He wasn't the cuddly type for the first part of his life. He "traipsed." He walked from one chair to the next, stepped on my closed laptop, came mighty close to spilling a water glass or cup of tea as he managed to maneuver the smallest spaces.

Shadow had great balance and could jump on top of a wall unit (if we let him!). He would race around the house, skidding on the linoleum where he had no traction, but never walked away worse for wear. He'd scale the back of couches and chairs, race up the stairs and down (and we have two sets) and sleep nearby because he loved his family. Sometimes he insisted on attention when we were trying to do something else. Shadow did not take no for an answer.

But as with all of us, years passed, the kids moved out, and Shadow aged. (We had adopted Tiger one Christmas when Shadow was about seven.) Shadow and Tiger were not bosom buddies. It took Shadow some time to accept "that kid." But I caught them close to snuggling in the same chair more than once. Tiger would have liked a buddy, but Shadow had a hard time letting him get too close. Still, I think there was some type of bond between them after a while. There where times when I caught them both looking like twins in the same pose in the same direction. (In this case both upset with the cat that came to visit!)

Tiger probably wonders why Shadow didn't come home yesterday. I could almost hear him ask me today as he sat near me at the computer: "Mom, where's that other boy?" And I think he feels rather bored without his playmate. (They fought every morning after breakfast and chased each other through the house.)

We had a feeling Shadow's time was running out about three months ago when he ended up at the vet. Unfortunately, though his disease was "curable", he was allergic to the medication that could have helped him (and did for a short time) and was too frail for the more radical alternatives. Long story short, we hoped to have more time. But time was not on our side.

So we spent yesterday with him, giving him a few last moments outside, petting him, loving on him, and crying until the tears made our eyes burn. We were with him until the end. I wonder now if that was a mistake as I can't think of that moment without emotion. But I think it was a kindness to him give him every bit of our love, and then let him drift into eternity.

I hope you don't mind these little memories of my Shadow. I miss the boy who would hop on the bed and yell at me, until I called him to come sit at my side while I would read and he would lay near me. Or the boy who our son caught in the act of knocking over our Christmas tree one year. Or the kitty who always greeted us at the door, and if we weren't careful would sneak outside, roll onto his back on the hard cement and rub his fur all over it.

Birds cawed when they saw him. Squirrels chattered and crabbed when Shadow was in the yard, and one time he chased one up the tree. He climbed on my lap when I tried to write, expected Randy to be a bed as we watched TV, and nearly always made his presence known while we talked to the kids or friends over Skype. Too bad God doesn't let us Skype with those who have gone on before.

But He did give us nearly 14 good years with Shadow. And I dare say we learned a little better how to love for having known him.

Rest in peace, my sweet Shadow.