Goodbye, old friend

by +CrystalThieringer    @cdthieringer

894606_10151470780408911_1609869140_o I’ve been a cat person my entire life. Thirteen years ago, I made a decision that my old cat Charlie needed a playmate, and it just so happened one of my work colleagues had access to an abundance of barn kittens. The original plan was for him to bring a kitten to the office, where it would stay for the day, and I would take it home.

Of course, we should have asked Security their opinion–which was that an 8-week-old kitten was a significant national security threat. They would not allow her a visitor’s pass, not for a moment, not for an hour, and certainly not for the day. The kitten had to leave. Immediately.

I asked my now-husband to drive me home. At the time, we had just started to date, and he had already told me he didn’t like pets. He specifically was not a cat person. “They leave fur everywhere,” he said. “I’m allergic,” he said. This didn’t bode well.

As he was driving me and the wild-looking bundle of fur to my condo, I told him, “I think you have until I get to my front door before I’m in love with this cat. She looks like a wildcat Lynx. Hey, what a great name. If you fall in love with me, you need to know we are a package deal.”

And so we were, me, Old Charlie-girl and little Lynx. There were ten years between them and Charlie had ways of voicing her opinion. She hissed, she snarled, she slapped her tail on the floor. One day, tired of Lynx pouncing on her, Charlie finally boxed Lynx on the ears hard enough to send her flying into the wall with a resounding thunk. From that moment on, Lynx gave her respect and always let Charlie have the higher physical position.

I’d been working on training Lynx to not claw the furniture, but I was headed on a week’s vacation so I enlisted the help of my friend and her young daughter to watch over the cats while I was gone (This little girl is the one who changed Lynx’s name to Lynxy, and it was so adorable coming from her four-year-old lips that I never changed it back). I’d heard double-sided tape would do the trick but since I didn’t have any, I carefully tacked up polypropylene strapping tape to my furniture instead. I’d reasoned that the main thing was to have the sticky side out because cats don’t like ickyness on their paws.

It wasn’t entirely successful. Most of the time when they went over, Lynxy tried to escape out the door. One day she didn’t appear but could be heard meowing from the middle of the condo. Somehow, she had managed to not only pull the tape from the furniture, but to wrap herself up in it and then, stick herself solidly to the stair rails, her feet not touching the floor. I’m not sure how long it took them to extricate her from the mess but it was enough for me to know I’ll never use tape in that fashion again.IMG_3520

The man I was dating decided he could handle the package-deal deal, and within the year, we became a family of four–two caretakers of two cats. Charlie was almost always by my side. She was without question “my” cat. Lynxy, just a toddler in cat years, was still curious and adventurous. This was clear when my husband was working on the ductwork in our home. He came tearing down the stairs one day impolitely trying to find the cat. Charlie was purring contentedly by my side but Lynxy had been shadowing him, and he had lost her.  She had snuck through the open vent into ductwork, and could be heard somewhere between the main floor and the basement.

Thank goodness for the sound of food. We pulled her out by the entertainment unit in the family room. Other days we pulled her out from between two wall studs, or from a closet, or from a room we had closed the door behind (to keep her out, of course).

She was the solo cat for many years, for my husband wouldn’t even entertain the option of a second cat–until the day Lynxy managed to escape to the outside world and go exploring overnight. By the time she returned 20 hours later, something inside of him had changed, and he thought having a second cat made sense. Before he could change his mind, I dragged him to the shelter so we could look at cats, and we added Sydney to our family.

Like Charlie before her, Lynxy was less than impressed with a little kitten around. This was especially true because she was a burrower. Sydney’s instinct was to protect the bedroom from the dangerous creature breathing under the blanket. I saw it happen, but I couldn’t stop it–nor could I stop Lynxy’s shocked reaction which ultimately resulted in her taking a hard fall off the bed, the ability to land on her feet restricted by the blanket. She never burrowed on the bed again, and never seemed to forgive me for letting it happen in the first place.

Still, the two became buddies. Although they never curled up against each other, they nonetheless relied on each other to coax out additional treats at tuna time. They chased each other around the house, and sometimes shared a step in front of the picture window (any touching was accidental). They would occasionally call to each other and seemed to have worked out a system regarding whose turn it was to wake up the two live in persons that might feed them.

Two months ago, Lynxy’s vet check-up went great. Two weeks ago, she began to lose weight at an alarming rate. Cancer had moved in, and taken up residence quickly. Yesterday, we bade her farewell with many tears and cuddles. Her goodbye to my husband was to headbump his hand, a simple act that pulled his last thread of self control. The man who would not like cats, who had accepted her only because of the package-deal deal, had spent much of the weekend sleeping beside her on the floor, but that moment with her broke his dam. He had fallen for her, and fallen hard.

IMG_2259With me, dam broken days ago, she simply settled her body against mine and purred while we drove the few miles to the clinic. We sat with her in the parking lot until the last possible moment. Such a tender, tough goodbye we shared.

Today I write this at a desk that seems empty. Lynxy often sat on the desk while I worked. She walked across the keyboard if I didn’t scritch her long enough, and she took most of my video chats as an unwelcome interruption into her time. Many of my friends have seen her tail as she marched back and forth in front of the camera, unwilling, it seemed, to share me with them.

It’s all so quiet now. I thought I would invite Sydney to take her place this morning, so I lifted her to the desk and encouraged her to settle down. But Sydney is not Lynxy and it is unfair to ask her to be. She made sure I knew it too, for she promptly stole a tiny airplane that had remained undisturbed for six years and raced away.

Ah well.  Maybe someday I’ll have another writing buddy. In the meantime, I certainly have amusement.



24 thoughts on “Goodbye, old friend

  1. I’m so sorry. Pets are an extension of God’s mercy and goodness, aren’t they? What a beautiful tribute, my friend.

  2. I have no words of comfort, and your heartfelt tribute makes me feel as though I have lost a furry friend too. Thank you for sharing your love for your Lynxy. Those charming photos capture the bond of love you shared.

    1. You’re wrong, Laura. Your words contain plenty of comfort. Thanks for taking a moment to leave them.

  3. My sweet friend. I feel sad and am praying that you and Martin will take the time to grieve and also find comfort in each other and Syd.
    Thanks for sharing your memories. How I remember young Lynxy’s mischievous cuteness. You are missed Lynx!

    1. She was such a funny girl. Everyone always asked if she was okay when she would be heard wheezing on her step. Maybe she had sleep apnea 🙂 Thanks, my friend. Sydney has been calling through the house this afternoon–I suspect she is looking for her too.

  4. Although I met her only once when she was still very young (I remember something about a kitten in the dishwasher), I feel your pain for the loss of your Lynxy. Photos of a cat with a short caption convey a 1000 words to a cat person; therefore, Crystal, your postings were thoroughly enjoyed!
    Bill and I lost (literally) our Chauchi nearly 8 years ago. He walked out of our house at 5:30 a.m. and didn’t return. We looked, called, posted photos on everything in sight, went on line and checked for black and white male cats with crooked whiskers and a computer chip for years. We moved shortly after that and when we return to the old ‘hood, without saying anything, I’m certain we are both still looking for that old tuxedo cat that still stars in so many of my Chauchi stories at school. I still have my collection of Tuxedo Cat calendars and, of course, all those cat tales…maybe a book someday….
    Enjoy Lynxy’s memories and know that she and Charlie how found each other again!

    1. I don’t know if I ever told you, Pat, but my first cat was a Tuxedo cat–given the very dignified handle “Fluffy” by five-year-old me. He lived until I was in college, which was quite an embarrassing thing only when someone asked his name. I think you should write that book some day–maybe that should be your 2016 goal? I bet it would be a great read.

  5. Tears. My final goodbye to my Blue kitty was a lot like Martin’s. How amazing we are given furry friends like these to be our confidants. The ones who see us at our best and our worst. And who love us equally in both. Thank you for sharing your wonderful memories of Lynxy.

    1. It’s wonderful, really, how they are able to give us what we need most during that time. I needed her to purr and be content, and Martin needed that little head bump. She holds secrets from us both, I’m sure. Guess Blue kitty can show her the ropes now (oh no, do you think they will tell our secrets too?)

  6. Sigh. I am so sorry your Lynxy is gone. And I’m glad you have Sydney. May each day feel a little easier to recall Lynxy with a smile, and less tears.

    1. Thank you, Denise. Lynxy was a great cat–and Sydney is as well. I’ve learned so much from her (and I’m sure that will continue). It will get better, for sure, but I’ll also honour her by accepting the grief for now. Thanks for sharing it with me.

  7. Awww Crystal. Tears rolling down my face. Your tribute to dear Lynxy is so beautiful and touched the heart here of a fellow cat lover. The head bumping, the purrs and cuddles and even the midnight crazies are truly a gift from God. He always knows just who we need in a furry friend. Holding you and Martin close in my heart. ??

    1. You definitely are a cat lover, Nora and I am sure you understand! I’m glad you have Tetley. Sydney is a great cat in her own right, and has taught me so much already. She’s actually been especially sweet these last few days, but yesterday she was definitely looking for her friend.

  8. What a lovely tribute to dear Lynxy. I’m sorry for the loss you and Martin are feeling. I had a beautiful calico cat, Ginger, and understand your descriptions well. You never truly own a cat, you share living spaces with them. Lynxy shared a special place with you.

    1. She did indeed. My desk is an empty place, and I miss her.

  9. I love that you wrote this in such a way that it wouldn’t completely do me in (I love the package-deal deal). It did anyway, as I lost my Toes (young daughter named him) to cancer years ago and it was the worst. I walked around with red, swollen eyes for months.

    Just as I finished reading, a guest arrived – I had to explain that I was OK, but I’d just read your post : ) May the memories sustain you, even after you visit the shelter to adopt another : )

    1. There have been red and swollen eyes in our household too. She was a wonderful pet, and while I’m grateful her end came quickly (for her), it came SO fast (for us). I’m going to have to move her cushion off the desk soon, unless I can convince Sydney to hang out here. So far, Sydney won’t have it, but she is being a lot more cuddly than she used to be. I think she likes having all the attention to herself.

  10. Killing me. I never met her in person but I knew her nonetheless. I know that fuzzy-shaped hole. I hope Sydney soon gets a chance to bat around the latest annoying kitten. Love you. Feel ya.

    1. You knew her, Ros, and you most definitely know the hole a missing pet leaves. I don’t know if Sydney will get a chance to bat around a kitten of her own. I’m leaving that up to the husband (you know, the one who is allergic, but spends mornings with Syd on his lap). Love you back!

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