She’s Home to Rest in Peace

Two days ago, we brought our Duchess’ remains home.  It was rough.  Seeing her little paw prints on the clay disk brought back how much we have missed he.  I’m glad to have her home, and glad that she won’t be far from us ever again.  Over the last two weeks, it’s been an adjustment getting used to not seeing her.  It still feels weird that we aren’t giving medicine every night and every morning.  I have caught myself a lot asking Eric if he’s given her the medicine.  It’s an adjustment.

Here are some of my favorite memories and things that I miss…

  • Almost every night, she sat on the back of the couch above my head and swatted me with her tail while I watched TV.  I can’t begin to say how much I miss that.
  • Her smell – she always smelled like cookies for some reason
  • How she would play with a string over and over, until she realized you were watching her
  • How she would jump up to really high perches and then hide there for hours just watching you.  She would spend hours in the kitchen on top of the upper cabinets just watching people and the dogs.
  • She was always trying to go downstairs to the basement, unless you needed her to because of a storm warning
  • How her fur was such an undefineable color – it tended to match everything I owned
  • How her face never photographed the way I saw it – I could never understand that;  she was so beautiful, but it never truly came across in pictures.
  • How precious were her kisses – she wasn’t a licker (unlike Harvey), but when she licked you, you knew you were special.
  • She and I would occasionally share pieces of cheese – I could always count on her for that
  • Sometimes when we made dinner, we would leave the pan on the stove for a bit.  We always knew if she found it because we would hear her tags clank on the side of the dish.  She loved hamburger, although she always dropped it on the counter.
  • She never turned down a plate of tuna and would come running for her share.
  • She loved watching the fish (when we had them) and the birds outside the living room window.
  • She would sleep on the floor next to my bed.  It got to the point that I could wake up at almost any time and if she wasn’t on the bed with us, I could look down and she would be on the floor.
  • When we first adopted us,  she wasn’t a real affectionate cat.  She didn’t really want to be held, unless it was on her terms.  A couple of years ago, after I was laid off and was home all day every day for a month, she got to the point that she wanted to be next to us.  She wouldn’t always stay long, but she came and sat with us and on us.  She would sleep on me at night, or sleep right next to me.   She was just very independent and a true “CAT” in every sense of the word.  But she loved us and we loved her.

I still can’t believe she’s gone.  There’s a hole in my heart that I can’t fill.  I find myself looking for her when I come home, or reaching for her when I am watching TV.  I knew it would be hard, but I never thought it would be this hard.  Thank goodness for Eric and the girls.  They are keeping me occupied enough so that I can’t dwell on it.  I know that we will get through it and eventually the pain won’t be as much.  It’s just hard to explain to people who haven’t gone through it.  Thankfully, some of our friends and family have gone through it and having that support/understanding has been invaluable.  Our thanks pour out to them.

We love you and miss you Duchess.

Goodbye My Dear Friend

My beautiful cat

Today, I said goodbye to my beautiful cat, Duchess.  She was such a special lady.  In February 1998, we lived in Washington state.  Over the course of a couple of days, this beautiful cat kept scratching at our apartment door.  She looked thin, so we gave her some food.  Well, you guessed it, she kept coming back, and eventually moved in.

It took some getting used to.  At that point, she was an indoor/outdoor cat, but she came home every day.  When we moved to our next apartment, she made the move with us.  She loved that apartment…big windows on the ground floor….and even better, big birds (geese) right outside that she could chase from one window to the next!  Every once in a while, I would put her on a leash and we would walk outside to the pond behind the apartment to watch the geese.  She would stalk them like she was a vicious killer.  It was funny.

When we moved to California a few years later, Duchess got the royal treatment.  Dad flew out to Washington to help me move, since Eric has moved a few weeks prior.  Dad is allergic to cats, but he toughed it out with us.  She thought she was really special because we let her out of her carrier at night and she got to sit on my lap with her paws on the dash watching all the lights.

Harvey & Duchess

Duchess liked California, except for the fact that we got another cat, Harvey.  She barely tolerated him at the beginning.  She figured out that if she stayed away from him, he was more concerned with playing in the water than bugging her.

We moved back to Iowa in 2001.  Duchess made that move rather well.  She couldn’t ride outside her carrier on that trip, but as long as someone would talk to her or pet her, she was ok.  She moved with us 2 more times – from Mom & Dad’s to the apartment and from the apartment to the house.  She always adjusted well to new places.  Her favorite place in our apartment was the window sills.  We were in the upstairs apartment of an old house.  It had really wide window sills and radiators for heat.  We would put a towel down on top of the radiator (in front of the window) and she would sleep there almost all day.

When we moved to the house, any time we had a window open, she was in it.  She loved watching the birds and laying in the sun.  She didn’t like the dogs much, but they learned to leave her alone or they would suffer a swat to the nose.  When she was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism 5 years ago, we knew that we would have to monitor her health carefully and stay on top of her medicine.  Some people said we should put her down at that point, but we didn’t see why.  We could handle this.

Duchess Loved Boxes

Her thyroid level bounced a lot, but we always kept an eye on it and gave her the medicine every day.  A week or so ago, we noticed she was getting thin again, so we figured her thyroid was off again.  However, the blood test came back normal.  At that point, I knew we were in trouble.  An x-ray showed fluid around her heart (so much that you couldn’t really see her heart on the x-ray, and it had pushed her lungs out of place), fluid in her abdomen, and a large tumor in her lungs.  That news broke my heart.

We decided that it was important to us to allow her to pass at home.  We spent the next few days petting her, talking to her, taking some pictures, treasuring every moment we had with her.  We even took her outside a couple of times so she could feel the sun on her fur and the grass under her paws.  I think she loved it.

We knew it was just a matter of time, but the time was important to us.  This morning, she passed after we had all left for work.

There are so many things I will miss…

  • Duchess playing in boxes (she was a HUGE fan of boxes)
  • Her purr – it was so loud and constant that they had a hard time listening to her heart at the vet’s office
  • Hearing her run down the hallway after using the litter box
  • Watching her play with strings or those silly toy mice (that lasted until we got Scooter, who ate the tails off all the mice)
  • Coming home after work at Christmas and playing “where’s Duchess now?” because she would play in the tree, or play with the ornaments
  • Her grumpy meow when you dared pick her up, or when you touched her back feet
  • The black spot on the back of one leg
  • How she would “attack” you if you played with her back legs or stomach
  • How she would come running when we had tuna
  • How I would wake up in the middle of the night to find her sleeping with me, only to move the instant I moved a muscle
  • Her crawling up beside me on the couch as soon as I sat down
  • Plus countless other things

What comforts me at this time is that I know she is doing all those things in Heaven and that she isn’t sick any longer.  I know she’s waiting for me, and that for her, that time will pass in the blink of an eye.  I, however, will miss her every day.

Sometimes this helps me get through the day…

My Shining Stars

The other day, the girls went to visit the horse barn.  They love going there.  Lucky for them, they were able to spend almost 5 hours there with their grandma watching the horses, watching the vet, and playing.

Even after all that, they come running up to me when they get home, so happy to be home and so happy to see me.  We are so lucky to have them, that hearing them happily scream “Mommy” or “Daddy” really makes all the troubles worthwhile.   Or having them ask “Can we snuggle?” makes me just want to wrap them up in my arms because I know that this time is fleeting.  Too soon, they will no longer want to snuggle and sing our good-night songs, or want to be with us.

No matter how they may act, we love them and love to see their smiles.  Even when I am having a bad day, having them smile at me can turn it around.