I lingered in bed a little bit longer than necessary this morning. I had hoped for one final wake up call from our ailing senior kitty.
It didn't happen.
Instead, as soon as I walked out into the hallway, I was greeted with this sight for sad eyes.
My son brought up his treasured "flower blanket" to make a softer bed for Andre, who has chosen to sleep on the floor beside the love seat lately.
This flower blanket and my son go back a long way. It was a quilt we already had when was born and he adopted it as his own somewhere along the way. Whenever we slept away from home, we packed up this quilt and it went where he went.
Sometime (not all that long ago), he donated his cherished blanket to his two favorite cats. It became the bed in a cardboard cat house he built for them. They have had as much enjoyment from that blanket as he has.
Oh, the stories that lie within that blanket.
Last night, he brought it upstairs to give Andre a softer resting spot. Before I went to bed, I could see Junior Cat eyeing up the cat blanket and Andre was more interested in his second favorite spot beside the table.
I wasn't surprised to find this scene when I awoke this morning. It is the way of our cats.
My son fell asleep on the floor between the two of them last night. When he woke up, Andre had abandoned his post so my son forfeited his spot for a softer resting place on the couch.
He needed to sleep close to Andre last night and that is what he did.
Andre can barely tolerate being touched now. I am so glad I lapped up all the snuggling he had left in him for as long as it lasted.
Last weekend, I held him and we stared out the picture window of the living room and reminisced about his adventuresome days. This morning, a mere seven days later, he fought his way out of my arms and left me with three scratches as he fumbled his way to the floor.
His last night with us.
My last (failed) attempt to hold him.
His labored purr.
Oh, his eyes.
That is all we have left now. It even seems painful for him to listen to our voice because he has always felt the need to respond to our words.
He used to meow a response.
He has always had a loud, monster purr.
He has never failed to respond to our attempts to communicate with him.
My son said he just laid on the floor with his head beside Andre. Andre nuzzled and smelled his hair. Then gave his face one little lick. Just one.
This is the cat who used to spend an hour grooming His Boy. There was an attachment that transcended words between Andre and his human family. He seemed to attach himself to each one of us at different times, in different ways. I don't know if he picked up on something we didn't even know about ourselves but I think each of us has had a feeling that we were "someone special" to him.
As I laid on the floor beside my favored kitty this morning, I asked if he knew how special he was to us. I told him he doesn't have to keep breathing for us. It is okay. We know we were loved by him and I am certain he knows just how much he was loved and adored. It is okay, Andre. You can let go. It is okay ...
We are going to miss him more than words can say.
I cannot imagine waking up to a world without him tomorrow morning. But we will.
He is hurting too much. It hurts my heart to hear his purr because it costs him so very dearly to expend the energy it takes to do so. But he can't help himself.
It is as if he is saying, "I'm sorry I can't let you touch me right now, but let me leave you with the gift of my purr."
His purr. His monster purr.
It was the first thing about him that drew him into my heart. It got louder and more persistent as the years went on.
Andre, I have known you almost as long as I've known my youngest son. You are such a big part of my heart and our family. I cannot imagine how hard it will be to let you go.
Thank you for giving us all you have had to give.
Thank you for purring on.
Thank you for the love, the kitty kisses and the comfort of finding you upon my waking each and every morning (even if some of those mornings, you were on the doorstep waiting to be let in, during your wandering years).
Thank you for dropping into our lives.
You were a gift.
I am beyond grateful for all of the smiles and laughter you brought into our days.
I cannot imagine waking up tomorrow morning. It hurts my heart to think of it.
I always wished you had a "kitty cam" on the top of your forehead so I knew what adventures you found outside of our doors. Oh, how I wish I had those stories right now, Andre. You have led a very interesting life and have touched our family in a way we have not been touched before.
I'm going to miss you so very much.