Sunday night, I said goodbye to the most extraordinary cat. I first laid eyes upon this little creature the day this picture was taken, in October 2004. My boyfriend at the time called and asked me if I wanted a kitten. Did I want a kitten! Does a cat have a tail?! My mother informed me that no, I did not want a kitten. But, knowing I was about to graduate and move into my own place, I convinced his parents to keep him until then. He was the most precious little boy. I named him Pete. And it was love at first sight.
The vet determined he was about 4 weeks old, far too young to be away from his mama, and that he had hip displaysia. He could barely walk and when he did, it definitely wasn't a straight line. It was actually quite funny to see this little baby boy fall every time he tried to walk. And running wasn't an option. I mean, it was, but not really, because he fell every time he ran. We used to say Pete was the guy who made everything awkward. He'd come into the room and just lean against the wall, the chair or you. And then he would just fall over. But he was so smooth about it, like you didn't even need to worry about him.
Pete was a good sport. He let me carry him all around and call him various names. He spent his life being called Republican Pete (thanks to a delightful bow tie his Aunt Kristin gave him for his first valentine's day), Pumpkin Pete at Halloween, Santa Paws at Christmas and Little Bear all other times. He was my aPeteage, more attached to me than most appendages. He was a Pete-ing Tom because of the way he spied on you while you were bathing. And he thought I was his pet. Most mornings I woke up to his wet nose smushed against my face or his paw patting my cheek. He was a nightmare to get on a schedule (ask my mom. She tells the funniest story of the night she ended up on the air mattress when she came to visit because Pete could only sleep in the bed) but once he got on one, boy did he stick to it. I spent the last 7 years waking at 530 almost every morning to feed him before falling back asleep. Pete was living proof that cats don't know when they get declawed. After much debate, I had him declawed when he was about 8 months old. And every night until the last time I saw him, he would shine his paws on the edge of my green chair. No one could say Pete wasn't spiffy. Or skinny. Once, the vet told me "he could stand to lose a pound or two." I just told her we could all stand to lose a pound or two. No one calls my son a fatty.
Call me a cat lady all you want. I realize I was (and still am) overly attached to my little bear. For awhile there, he was the only reason I had to get up in the mornings. Knowing he was depending on me kept me going. He was my buddy. He accepted me fully without hesitation and never once hurt my feelings. I know he only thought good things about me because he always purred (hence his name Sir Purr) when he snuggled up next to me. He was the best egg.
I'll spare you the details but let's just say finding him the way I did broke my heart into a million and one tiny pieces. I don't like surprises really, and this was one that I wasn't ready for. At all. I have always said I didn't want to be there when Pete kicked the bucket, because I didn't know if I could handle it. So maybe in a way me not being there was a blessing in disguise. But I did come home. And when I did, he wasn't there anymore. All I know is thank the good Lord that I have a friend who took care of him and made him feel loved in his last days (even though we had no idea these were them). And all I know is thank the good Lord that I have a friend who drove an hour without question late at night to pick me up off the ground, put Pete in a box, and take me to get a treat. And all I know is thank the good Lord that my dad didn't even bat an eye when I called them screaming. He just got in the car and came to get me and my treasured pet. And he took us home to Charlotte. And thank the good Lord I have a brother who willingly spent his day taking Pete to the vet to be cremated so I didn't have to.
Anyone who says it's just a pet doesn't understand. Pete was my buddy. I feel like a part of me is missing. Like I've had my arm cut off. It makes my heart so sad to know when I go home at night, he won't be there chirping at me or falling over to have his hair brushed. It makes me sad that I won't be able to pat his little head or rub his belly again. The worst part is that Pete was a non-negotiable with me. We were a package. And now we're only me. I don't remember who I was before Pete arrived. And now I gotta figure out how to be a grown up about this whole thing.
Love stinks. But sheesh. I'm so glad I got to spend 7 years of my life with him. We were a purrfect match for sure. And I wouldn't trade it for anything.