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First Anniversary

I look at the mess winter has created outside my back door. I look at the mess the birds have made with all the sunflower seed shells. I'm responsible for some of that mess. I've been feeding them. The possum has contributed, too; trying to get to the bird seed, tipping over pots and stools and other garden paraphernalia. Not to mention his...  poop! Opossum's poop a lot, and not just in one place. It's everywhere!

I'm sad. This mess is sad. It's a sorry excuse for a memorial park. A memorial plot, I mean. There's no honor here.

Last year at this time, I was beside myself in shock. I had all the symptoms, rapid pulse, cold skin, perspiration, tightness in the chest, and an overwhelming sense of horror. Who knew that loving someone so much for twenty years could bring upon such intensity?

I couldn't comprehend the possibility that I would remain sane. I sure didn't feel sane. That first six months was the most difficult. I went to bed at night and all I could think about was her. Not the good times we had. No. All I could think about was her death, and the things that led up to it.  I awoke in the same thought pattern. I couldn't stop myself.

As clear as the moment it happened, I see her now, heading out the door as I reach for the mail, She's plodding across the yard to the far corner where her favorite plant grows. I head out behind her, hobbling along due to my recent surgery. I like to be with her, watching, as she pads around her plant, and sniffs selectively. Though I worry, she avoids the bumble bees like an expert and finds that one perfectly formed leaf for her enjoyment. She nibbles. I'll catch up to her soon. I can break off a stem, carry her back inside.

This was not catnip. Though Keli enjoyed catnip, she also had a penchant for a closely related plant most of us call cat mint. She preferred it over regular catnip. She had passed up the big patch of catnip by the door in order to get to her special plant.

If only she hadn't.

I wasn't fast enough. The neighbor had let her dogs out and headed toward my house. It was almost like I saw it coming. I couldn't run. There was no way I could have stopped it.

It was instantaneous.

I heard a blood curdling scream as the dog's body slammed my little eight pound girl. It was me who screamed but it sounded like it came from outside myself, as if the whole neighborhood had screamed. I can't say I saw her hurled away. It happened so fast. Have I blocked it?

I kept going over that in my mind, trying to capture that moment. Was she under her own power in escaping? Certainly she was suddenly not there, and my scream had startled the dog and his owner, so much that everything  shifted. The dog stood stock still and did not give chase, but ran away. The neighbor and I had harsh words.

Since the door was still open, Keli had made her way back inside before I got there. I examined her. No blood. She seemed herself. She seemed okay sitting there on her rocking chair, as usual.

It took two weeks as her life began to fade. I took her to the Vet, not relating the episode with the dog to her demise. It was the Vet who wrote in her chart about a mass in her abdomen, the lack of bowel sounds. He asked if she'd been injured. Then, it all clicked. It was too late to save her, he said. I could pay a thousand dollars and they would do everything they could, but he didn't feel there would be much hope at her advanced age, the fact she was dehydrated, etc. etc. I needed to let her go. He was very kind. Seemed like he loved her as much as I.

NEVER, NEVER, NEVER take your very sick pet to the vet without having a friend go with you!!! Driving home is extremely dangerous, for other drivers, as well as yourself. Several times, I had to pull over just to breathe. I was convinced I would pass out, but not within my senses enough to just stop driving entirely. Very dangerous.

Every night before I slept I re-lived the vet office visit, her looking into my eyes with such clarity that last moment. Every morning the same thing. I thought I would die from the grief. I wished I would. I felt insane.

So here I was a year later, and her resting place beside the back door was... a mess. Naturally, I got busy and started cleaning.

I decided to go out to her favorite plant, her cat mint, dig it up, transplant it, put it beside her. It gets such beautiful blue flowers on it. The neighborhood cats wont disturb it. She was the only one who ever munched on it.

Much to my surprise, I can't even call it surprise, just imagine ..... well, you explain it.

I found the location of Keli's cat mint and discover instead, a four foot circle of dead plant. All the spring flowers and grasses surround that circle. But, nothing invades the space that once was the living plant my cat loved.

Can you explain it? How very, very odd.


  1. How awful to see your beloved cat being attacked by the dog and then to see her slowly slip away. We had to have our dog put to sleep some time ago. Afterward we buried her in our back yard, facing towards the neighbor's yard that she loved to run to when she got loose.

  2. I am so sorry for your loss. What was her name? She was a very pretty Cat. Maybe she took the mint with her when she left,since she liked it so much. That is very strange. Are you going to plant more mint where she is buried?

    When I was growing up we had a dog named Puppy. One Christmas Eve we had some people come trim the trees in our back yard. When they left they forgot to close the gate to the back yard.We had no idea the gate was left open. Puppy was a follower. He had never been outside of the back yard, he was born there and the back yard is all he knew. He never even thought about leaving the yard when the gate was open. We had a puppy named Leo, who was of course curious and he went out the gate, Puppy followed him. We were getting ready for our Christmas Eve program when there was a knock on the door. The lady had swerved to miss hitting Leo, who was a light color, and she hit Puppy, who was black. My mom stayed home with Puppy and my dad took my brothers and I to church for the program. My brothers and I cried through the program and when we got home dad buried Puppy in the back yard.

  3. Yes, I plan to plant some cat mint over her grave soon. It was so odd. That plant comes back every year. But, not this year. Her name was Keli.

    What a sad Christmas that was.

  4. Linda, Without our beloved pets in our lives, things would be pretty boring. But we still have the memories, at least, and now I have new kitties to keep my busy. http://4ever-feline.blogspot.com/

  5. Can a year have passed so quickly? I am so glad that frightening immediate pain has passed for you but I know your heart will always ache for Keli, until you meet again (just as my heart aches for Henry).

  6. Thank you Milo and Alfie and Jan. She was so special


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