Losing a pet

There was an accident and my baby's fur-baby was gone.  I had dreaded this day for 4 1/2 years. "Feared" is probably a better description. I knew full well that kitties don't last forever and this day would inevitably arrive at some point.  I had never seen a child love an animal like this.  Ever.  And the thought of her being separated from that relationship was unbearable.

I was the one who found Ninja.  Although it was inexplicably painful to see, I was overcome with relief that it was I and not my baby.  Telling her would be impossible enough but thinking that she so easily could have been the first one on the scene was deplorable.  In the midst of my grief, I felt a measure of thanks.

I stalled for several minutes.  What in the world would I say?  How does one break the news that a best friend is gone? I found my own mom and poured out my heart.  She was pale with grief herself.  Anyone that knows Betsy knows of her bond with this feline.  To call their relationship unique doesn't even do it justice.

Maybe it's the "last child" syndrome - with all the other siblings grown and gone, the baby attached so deeply to this ball of fur that so lavishly reciprocated her love. Whatever it was, Betsy loved this kitty with abandon.

And I had to tell her he was gone.

I climbed the stairs slowly.  Praying on every step.  She was in her room studying, blissfully unaware that I was about to upend her world.

There was no easy way to break the news.  So I just told her.

And we both fell apart.

We cried in each other's arms for a long time.
It helped to meander through treasured memories.  Like the birthday parties she threw him every year.  Complete with games and guests and cat cakes, made from the finest cat food we could find.  And his patience while my grandchildren learned how to "be easy with the kitty". And the times she dressed him up in doll clothes.  We noted that it was clear he was embarrassed by that!  But he endured it all for her.

We looked at picture albums, dedicated solely to Ninja Spy.  And I cherished in my heart the times I violated house rules and family allergies and let her bring him to her room.  The image of the two of them on her window seat is indelibly printed on my memory film.  I am thankful.

Her daddy came home from work in the middle of the day.  He choked telling her about losing Mutt when he was her age.  He promised a proper burial and a grave marker when she was ready.

We cried some more.  And eventually we were able to laugh about the times he would dart in a partially open screen door and race straight to her room before we tracked him down and returned him to the great outside.  And about the most unusual relationship he had with Shadow.  No dog-cat fight here.  They absolutely adored one another and enjoyed quite a symbiosis when it came to ridding our yard of squirrels.  So much so that we all learned to watch our step as we opened the kitchen door - too many times we inadvertently stumbled on their "trophies" sitting on the floor mat, awaiting our applause.

Her siblings sent flowers.  That very day.  Just when you wonder if you've failed as a parent, you see the brother and the sisters rally together to support baby sister and you know a measure of success.  You've had the greatest siblings in the history of the universe grow up under your roof.  Thankful.

Texts.  Calls.  Deliveries of candy and a visit from a treasured friend.  An understanding youth group leader from church brought a plant. Cards.  Prayers.  Thankful.

Y'all, this is a big deal.  For real.  I don't consider myself an inordinately avid animal lover but this kitty was different.  We all loved him.

And mainly we all love Betsy.  Anything that causes her pain, wrenches the lifeblood from each of our hearts.

I know we will survive.  I know this is not the end of the world and for some readers, this may seem like pathetic hyperbole.
But you must not have known Ninja and you must not love Betsy like we do.

And if it offends you that I assured Betsy that I find no Biblical violation to my belief that our precious Ninja is now curled up on the end of my Daddy's recliner in Glory, well, then I feel sorry for you.  Because I am convinced that the two of them are having a last laugh at your expense!

The healing begins.  She told me she could  never ever ever replace Ninja Spy.
But that there might be a kitty out there somewhere that needed a home to love. We shall find him.
I know he will love my Betsy.
And I hope he doesn't mind dress up clothes and a dog named Shadow.