For a long time, our house has been a nursing home for elderly animals. The cats were all the same age, within a few months of each other. The dogs (coming as litter mates two years later) were the same.
Yeti died in 2007, Ripley in 2008. (No picture. Being a mistress of international intrigue, she’d have to kill you.)
Curie (my frail, beautiful sweetheart) died in 2009, followed four months later by Bella. Tucker’s the last of that era, gamely making his passage through the days that remain to him.
It’s been hard, brain-numbing sometimes, watching them go one after the other. I’d get used to the idea that one was gone and then the next would go, leaving us feeling punched under the heart. When Curie died (at the ripe old age of 13), it was the end of an era. We’d gotten Ripley when she was 4 weeks old. Curie came two weeks later, and Yeti two weeks after that. They were a set. Despite the dogs, the house echoed with their absence.
I think Ed was a tad appalled at my readiness to adopt another cat so soon after Curie’s death. He wasn’t ready, and said so. I wasn’t going to bring another animal in if he wasn’t ready for it, but I felt sad and a little disappointed (unfairly; but there you are). In retrospect, I think we were dealing with our grief in two different ways. Ed was sealing himself off to heal, and I was looking to fill the space in my heart. Not to replace Curie — I want to be clear on that. There could be no replacing of “The Bird.” But I wanted — I needed — a new cat-friend.
Finally, we made the trip to the Humane Society. To cut to the chase, it took us two days to choose, but we came home with
Tuna (aka “Shadow”) who twined his front legs around my neck and rubbed his head against mine when I took him out of the cage. He’s a great guy. Dog-like in his devotion. Very loving. A sweetheart with a devilish streak. Nothing fazes him.
We also brought home Gypsy (aka “Mitzi”).
Gypsy was terrified at the Humane Society. She’d been there for months. She’d been adopted out once and returned almost immediately because she never came out from under the furniture. She was wild-eyed and hunch-backed; looked twice the size of what she is. Shell-shocked. Unable to comprehend this hell she was in and utterly lost. I think that’s what won us — the sheer defeat in her eyes, the high-tension thrumming of her spirit. She was so overwhelmed with noise and change that she was withdrawing into her own mind to escape it.
We weren’t sure she’d make it, either spiritually or emotionally, but her spirit was (and remains) strong. She vanished under the bed when we brought her home, but her desire to feel that SOMEWHERE was home brought her out after dark to curl around my head and sleep with me. Since then, she’s had rocky days, but there’s been no looking back for any of us.
What is it that brings a particular person and a particular animal together at a particular time? Hard to call it chance when you hear so many people speak of it. They’re not talking about an affection for every animal that walks. They’re talking about that special connection you feel with an animal only every once in a while. All I know is that while I love Tuna, I adore Gypsy. There’s a heart-to-heart, soul-to-soul connection we share (even when one of us is being bitchy) that warms me to my core.