Saying hello, saying goodbye

I just signed in to this virtual journal of mine, and couldn't believe my eyes that the last time I posted was back in January... which then made me shudder to think it's already April 22nd. What a blur these months have been, with two work conferences, a couple of weekend getaways, and a work trip to the east coast. All the while one of the most ever-present thoughts on my mind was that of my kitty Boo, and how I knew this time when he started losing weight it meant he wasn't going to come back from it. Back in December just before I left for San Francisco for New Years, I came home from work and saw a look in his eyes I immediately knew meant he was nearing his end. Turns out his kidneys weren't doing so well, but he hung in there for another almost 4 months. I could not be more grateful for this tough little guy giving me such a long time to say goodbye to him... I needed every minute of it. 

The day I adopted him almost 13 years ago back when I lived in Arizona is a very vivid memory for me. Mom and I were at the Maricopa Animal Shelter; we were there because she wanted to adopt a dog, but thus began my excellent track record of visiting an animal shelter and not being able to leave without taking someone home. Boo was in the dog section of the shelter since the cat kennels were all completely full. I heard a distinct meow over the sea of dog noises, and turned to my left to see this massive cat on his back legs, his front legs outstretched through the cage reaching for me. He had the worst case of kennel cough I'd ever seen, his eyes crossed and green with infection, but considering his sign was marked that he had been there for two weeks, it wasn't surprising. In that moment I knew I wasn't leaving there without him... no one was going to take the full grown cat stuck in the dog kennel when there was a hallway full of precious baby kittens to choose from. 

As a child we always had cats in our home, and I desperately wished they would play more, answer me when I talked to them, and want to cuddle non-stop... not many ever really obliged. But the minute I turned 18 and could adopt my own, there was Boo. My soulmate kitty. That first night I brought him home, he slept on top of my chest, face-to-face, and sneezed on me all night. But I could not have been more happy about it... I knew he was my new BFF. The 13 years we had together were some of the most formative years of my life, every day of which I came home to his constant chatter and always found him by my side... or right on top of me. Sometimes Brent and I joked that if he could crawl under my skin, he would. He could never get close enough. He never lost his kitten-like enthusiasm for paper, string, bird watching, etc. and he always answered with a sweet mew when I told him I loved him. 

I will be forever grateful we had a goodbye fitting of the time we had him... I would expect him to depart in no less a dignified fashion. Who could ask for more than to fade away peacefully in your own home, with your loved ones by your side? Brent and I remarked on how most humans don't even get that sort of ending... but that cat always had such high standards. In his last moments, just before Brent and I both caught the sudden and fierce flicker of the candle sitting in our still bedroom, Boo reached his arm out to me one last time. Heartbreaking, but such a perfect little circle of a life I feel honored to have witnessed.