Maddie (4/2/96 – 8/1/09)

Licky licky

Originally uploaded by dcwriterdawn

“I’m selfish and I’m sad
I’ve lost the best baby that I ever had.”

— Joni Mitchell, “River”

It’s been 12 hours since my baby died in my arms. I’ve never known grief like this.

Now that Maddie’s gone after 13 years as my best friend in the world, traveling companion and source of unconditional love, I feel like my heart went away.

Every time I’ve lost someone, there’s been other repercussions to worry about — mostly financial.

I think she’s the first I’ve ever really grieved. Not just first pet, although she is that, too. But I’ve lost so many people I’ve loved, and she’s the only one I didn’t necessarily *need* in my life, but 100% wanted.

Everyone may remember my stories of her crapping all over the planet. But other than that, I have nothing but praise for this beautiful Calico.

I could wax poetic about her a million times over. And probably will. But one story I want to tell is how I was leaving for work the other day, and I was in the doorway talking to my mom. Maddie left her spot on my bed in the next room, came up to me to rub against my legs and be petted, and went back to her perch.

She always waited for me to come home from jobs that suck all my daylight hours and then some out of me. Oftentimes, after a miserable day, I’d close my bedroom door to get a good, cat-free sleep. (It’s mostly her sister Kadie who gave me rough nights.)

Maddie always seemed to sense this, and most of the time, she’d sneak into my room between the time she greeted me and the time I closed the door. She was frail toward the end (which I either didn’t notice or refused to acknowledge), but she could run. Because she wasn’t going to miss a night of sleeping curled up at my side if she could help it,

Kadie tried to sleep in my bed last night. (I “slept” on Maddie’s slide.) My bed was always Maddie’s turf. Maddie would let Kadie eat first … let her have first crack at every new toy, litterbox, whatever. But sleeping at my side was the only thing she fought for.

Now, getting a good sleep is something I may never have again … at least, not for a long while. The house feels empty and everything else just feels so wrong.

I just never woke up knowing that yesterday would be her last day on earth … and that it would be the absolute worst day of my life, although today isn’t feeling any better, either.

Someone asked me recently whether I’d ever felt true love. I said no. I realize now that I lied. Maddie was the love of my life.

So, if you’re so inclined, please say a prayer for her and have a drink in her honor. And if you are enjoying a sunny day or even the rain (she loved both), wave to her up in that giant litterbox in the sky and tell God how lucky he is to have her back.

I never adequately thanked the person who gave her to me. She was just supposed to stay with me temporarily. But then I fell in love with her and there was no turning back. So, thank you for making sure my feline soulmate and I got a decade-plus together.

As for me, I learned long ago that we’re both in our sixth lives, if you believe in reincarnation. So I told her to wait for me because we have a million more adventures in store, next time around.

I just don’t know what to do without her in the meantime. She’s more like me than any human child could be. I fear, even if I do have the “real” kind, she’ll always be my favorite. God knows I’m done with the feline kind — I’ve already had the perfect pet.

Adding to the hurt is that I never got to take her to our new apartment. She would have loved it. If we weren’t in the late stages of Flea-a-palooza, I would have taken her for a visit. The bonus for me is that the place has linoleum floors — ideal for cats who miss the box by a room or two.

My plan was to give Kadie to Mom, and Maddie and I would finally, finally have our lives back. Just like old times, just the two of us. The way we loved it best.

While it’s been torturous for me to have Mom living here the past two years, she did nothing (literally) but love my cats. Always singing, dancing, talking, playing with them. Drove me nuts. I hated it.

But now that I realize just how alone I left Maddie to go sell my soul to pay the bills, I’m glad Mom was there to love her while I wasn’t around.

Thank you for loving me, Maddie. Gram and Grampy will take good care of you till I get there. …

6 Responses to Maddie (4/2/96 – 8/1/09)

  1. ms7168 :

    OMG Dawn I am so sorry! 🙁 I’ve lost two cats in the past five years and I never chose either. One was given to me and the other I acquired kitty custody after a nasty break-up because she liked me better. It sucks.

  2. Lachlan :


    Murphy was no longer in my care when she died. We had to leave her with our friends L&J because we couldn’t afford a pet deposit anywhere. After time passed, it just seemed cruel to take her back. They loved her.

    When she got sick, they paid for some ridiculously expensive tests and ultimately for the amputation of her leg to try and stave off the cancer. It didn’t work, but it gave her time. They loved her like you loved Maddie.

    And so, in light of my experience, I can say I truly understand- even if in reverse. You took great care of a wonderful companion. The universe knows these things… and it will heal your grief, in time.

    Love you, hon.

  3. Mel :

    Oh Dawn, I’m sorry to hear that. *hugs*

    Coco my poodle was around from the time I was in the 4th grade till I was 22/23. She stayed with my parents, but every time I came home to see them with her it was like it never changed. She went to the big farm in the sky unexpectedly even though we knew it was eventually gonna happen because of her age.

    I will def say a prayer. 🙂

  4. Val :

    Oh, love. I am so sad for your loss(es). How lucky you are to have known unconditional love; I believe she was just prepping you for the wonderful human sort that will soon come your way (if it hasn’t already).

    Lots of love to you during this difficult time. I will say a gigantic prayer that all of your griefs (which is slightly different from grievances) are eased.

  5. laura :

    I am so sorry for your loss. I have been there and done that, more times than I care to admit or recall. Remember that an animal chooses you, not the other way around. They know what we need even when we do not and we are all the better for having them walk across our hearts on little cat feet.

    You are in my prayers.

  6. Bart :

    We all want our kitties to go on forever, because we’re not sure how we’ll continue to go on ourselves when they pass away. I know I bawled like a baby when the first of our girls, Mae, died next to me on the sofa. My grief was so strong that after a day or two I knew that I had to rein it in and I needed to regain control. When her sister, Misty, died 7 months later I knew I couldn’t allow myself to go down to same path even though I missed them both terribly.

    Several months later we got another pair of Siamese, Mike & Ike , (Mikey & Ikey). However, I still caught myself starting sentences with . . . the girls. It took me almost 1 year before I automatically would say . . . the boys.

    I hope you find some solace and that your life gets easier in so many ways.

    Growing up as a P.K. (Preacher’s Kid) I’m not religious at all, but I did say a short prayer for Maddie, and I’ll say one for you tonight.

    from Pittsburgh