In 1997, my college roommates and I got a kitty from a farm in Iowa. She wasn’t really “mine,” in fact, I don’t think she liked me or I liked her at the time. She had a favorite roommate (Dan). However, I was the only one of the roomies set to graduate the following year, and the rest of the roomies couldn’t keep a cat, so I, by de facto, was stuck with her.
I was 21.
As the years went by, it was just Milli and me. We moved to Colorado together right after I turned 22. I had to relinquish her for a few months in my early 20s when I moved to a place that didn’t allow cats, but aside from that, she was with me through thick and thin, through heartbreaks, hangovers, hell, and high water.
Then, our little family grew. I moved in with Travis when she was about five years old. Travis loved her like his own. He was the greatest papa. He was able to do all the things I was too wimpy to do, like put her in her cat carrier, calm her down at the vet, and face the wrath of her claws when she was ALL DONE playing,
When Milli was about 10, we took her on the adventure of a lifetime when we moved to Germany. She survived a horrific, sweltering 11-hour flight in a small carrier under the seat in front of us. She was not happy.
But overall she liked Germany, and for two years she lived there and got to experience German life (as much as a cat who doesn’t leave the house can experience it, anyway) in the form of new cat food and litter. And that one, extra toasty spot on the bathroom floor that was randomly always warm.
Milli came home and settled back in to life in the US. By this time she’d lived in 11 places (hey, I moved a lot, what can I say?) and STILL hated the cat carrier and new homes.
Along came babies, and still Milli tolerated our little, nutty family. She survived the toddler phase of baby #1 chasing and tail pulling and tugging and swatting at her. And she was already handling #2 like a champ, in spite of the handfuls of fur he’d grab when given the chance. (Number 2 adored her already, and when she was nearby, his eyes were glued to her. Number 1 was a little freaked out at her by this time, but it was only a matter of time until Number 2 terrorized her and how.)
Over the past few years, Milli’s health had been sliding. I won’t go into all the details and I won’t try to justify anything, but two days ago we put her down. It was the most painful day of my life.
48 hours ago, as of this moment, Milli was still alive. I had the chance to say “Hey, this is silly, she’s fine, let’s go home.” I didn’t say that. 48 hours and 30 minutes ago, it was too late.
She was gone.
The reality was that Milli wasn’t fine. But, she could have lived longer. Who knows if it would have been weeks or years, but she had more life in her old bones. And I had her put down, anyway.
My faithful, loyal friend, through all those years. The one who trusted me explicitly. The one whose fur I cried in for many years, who was there through moves and boyfriends and sickness and health.
I will never forget the feeling of looking into her green eyes on Saturday and seeing her fear. And knowing I could stop it, I could love and cuddle and snuggle her just a little longer. And I let her go.
I’m sick about it, but I am trying to convince myself it was for the best. I know there is never an easy time to say goodbye. I am glad we did not let her die a long, exaggerated, painful death.
But I sure as hell miss her.