They were the only litter of kittens we've ever had (well, their mother had them, but you know what I mean). I was there at their birth and loved them like they were my own children. I couldn't bear to part with any of them, so we kept them all and doubled the number of cats in this house.Yesterday I walked down to Bea's house to retrieve a ham from her refrigerator. One of the boys, Squeak (the one on the right, above), started to follow me down the street, miaowing. I stopped, turned around and scolded him: "Dammit Squeak! Get out of the street before you get hit by a car!" His mother, Feather, ran across the street and herded him to the side of the road, and I continued on towards Bea's house. I got the ham, stopped to scratch Zoe's head (she once was a cat in my temple to Bast, and I'm very fond of her), and headed back home.
From the street up at Bea's I could see there was something in the road, but I couldn't remember if there had been a pile of pinestraw there or not. As I got closer, I saw Feather standing at the side of the street, miaowing, and the heap in the street became the body of Squeak as I drew closer.
The wash of grief and guilt almost drowned me there in the street as I picked up his beautiful little body, hoping against hope for a breath of life, but he had left us all. It had taken me less than than 5 minutes to go to Bea's and back, and that was all the time it took for him to leave us.
Beautiful like a Maine Coon, sweet tempered and loving, Squeak had been one of our favorites. For the Professor, he was the only cat in the world.I went to school early and got the boys. We had family coming over later and the boys needed time to process what had happened. We buried him in the garden, near the catnip bush, so he could always be near us in a place he loved.And life goes on. In spite of our disbelief, in spite of our dwindling, irrational hope that he would be there to greet us this morning, he wasn't, and life, seemingly roughshod, continues on.