6/1/2009 - 7/27/2020My dearest Whiskey,
If you left this world today certain of anything, I hope it was that Mama loves you. You have been her best friend since the day she met you at the shelter, when you were 7 weeks old, dangling from the roof of your kennel. Your siblings were asleep, and you were already exploring. You were born bold, curious and resilient, and you inspired me to be those things, too.
You were unwaveringly loyal, my constant shadow. And whatever shape I was in at any given time, that was good enough for you. My mom said that you “idolized” me, that you looked at me like I held the key to the universe. She also told me that you were as tender and engaged as you were, in large part because of how you were treated, because of how cherished you were your whole life. But really, it’s the other way around, little boy. You were my model, and I am a better person today because of you.
You never held a grudge. You were hospitable and charming, welcoming visitors and sitting like a gentleman with Mama and her friends, in your own chair at our kitchen table. You shared your emotions honestly, you readily made your needs known (yet asked for so little), and you were generous with your affection, especially toward me. Life would get busy, and you’d insist we stop to snuggle. I’d get a gentle tap on the arm, and your dinner-plate eyes would be my cue. You sprinkled joy wherever you went, and I don’t think it ever occurred to you how important you were.
I often told you that I loved you so much, it felt as though my heart could burst. I’d look at you, and I’d think how lucky I was to be yours. You were my daily reminder that purity and goodness are alive in this world. That our greatest gifts in life are the beings we share it with.
We endured losses together, we embarked on adventures together, we grew older together. We had our special, everyday routines. You made me laugh with your sense of mischief and your oh-so-polite persistence, and the way you carried certain toys all over the house, and how you’d suddenly feel full of beans and be compelled to tear around, sounding like a herd of tiny elephants.
I’d joke that you were the rarest of creatures, a feline pacifist. You didn’t stalk or hunt out in your beloved backyard, and not only because you were a house cat with a reliable meal service (i.e., Mama), but because you were inherently kind, just a humble observer. You growled maybe a handful of times in your entire life, usually at big guys in hats, and you never harmed another soul.
We were always happy to see each other; your orange striped “flag” would go up, and you’d trot toward me as though we’d been apart for days – when really, I’d just been in another room. We knew each other like the backs of our own respective paws. I joined you near the beginning of your life, and it was my honor today to join you at its sunset. This was simply your time, even if I wish we’d gotten more.
A bond like ours doesn’t die. Our bodies do, but our shared story won’t, not ever. Thank you, my precious Whiskey, for teaching me about friendship, for showing me life’s sweetness, and for shepherding me through the last 11-plus years. You gave me more than I could ever repay, and I will reserve this hole in my heart for you, for always.
Mama loves you.
Melissa LangBUFFALO, New YorkJuly 28, 2020
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...With great admiration and respect for the gentlest and most faithful of creatures.Chris Lang - August 5, 2020
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