In memoriam, Kadie (6/6/03 – 9/17/18)

To my road trip buddy, my baby girl, my pumpkin child, my Halloween kitty, and the entire heart and tail of our home …

You Houdini’d your way out of the backseat and rode from Florida City to Key West on the armrest. You LOVED to see outside.

Your momma had an amazing 15 years with you at her side. (Rather, weaving between her ankles, leading her to the fridge to implore her to give you a scoop of Grandma’s homemade chickie-chickie salad made just for you.)

Each day started with you scratching my open door at 5:25. I would feed you, go back to bed … and then you’d come scratch the side of the bed to ask for more. And if I dared stop by the bathroom first, you’d follow me in and implore with those big green eyes to hurry up, Momma!

Kada wants to EAT!

You had a huge appetite till the end. Every day, Grandma would text me what you wanted me to bring home. C.R. Chick’s was your favorite. But you never said anything but OMG NOM to Texas Roadhouse salmon … Five Guys cheeseburgers … Junior’s cheesecake … whipped cream of any sort … whitefish salad from TooJay’s … Shrimpy Shrimp treats … fettuccine alfredo from Olive Garden … Grandma’s homemade mac-and-cheese that no one was allowed to eat but you … Grandma’s “toona” salad made just for you (and you’d get SO MAD if I’d take a teaspoon for me) … the list goes on.

That was from your birthday. I kept the receipt. You and Grandma also shared your beloved Chicken Piccata.

We have most of those foods in the fridge, but without you to eat it now. And cream cheese, which you leapt onto our highest counter to eat off my omelet this summer. How’d you do that?!

If only that and love were enough to keep our baby with us, you’d have outlived us both.

We always served you first. But you’d go trip Grandma and tackle her and push your face in HER plate. Then after you ate her food, you’d finish yours. Crazy cat.

Shrimpy shrimp for MY shrimpy shrimp

For years, you ate your supper (and ours) on the center couch cushion. But lately, you preferred your privacy. Sometimes you’d still hop up to grab a piece of chickie or cheese and take it to the floor to nom.

You stopped hopping into our beds, too. Grandma missed the days when you’d “back that ass up” into her bed after she was situated — you did that for 10 years! You could still jump but mostly chose not to.

But you were the same ol’ “fighty-bitey Hisseroo from way back” till your last week on this earth. You met me at the door every day, looking for my offering, like always. And you led Grandma to the fridge at every opportunity. Even if you didn’t want to eat once you had it. But Grandma’s magic chickie-chickie salad did the trick every time.

Junior’s cheesecake for my birthday. My pick was always something you’d love.

Your last day on this earth was Monday, Sept. 17. The day before my Gram’s birthday. (I always suspected she took over your body sometimes — you two were so alike.)

Mom and I knew something was off from the get-go. You woke me up, like always. But you didn’t ask to eat. Instead, you threw up and went to rest on your towel. I wiped you down without you blowing your bangs, as you normally would.

Huntin’ birdies. None of the menagerie of real squirrels, ducks and birds that frequented our porch have come back since you left.

Oh how I hated going to work. I rained hugs and kisses on you and hoped to be able to do that again. Then Grandma texted me at work around noon. Not with a food request but rather the “come home as soon as you can” message I’ve dreaded. Which, sadly, was late as usual. But not TOO late …

It felt like I hit the lottery when came in and you were waiting for me on your towel by the door. You haven’t walked me to the door to say bye for a few weeks. But you’ve almost always been just inside it, complaining if I come home too late but always glad to see me.

Monday night, though, you didn’t notice my empty hands. Or you just didn’t feel like tripping me to show your disapproval this time.

The hoomins did decide to order your beloved fettuccine alfredo. When I returned from OG, you just knew that bag was for you! You perked up and led me to the kitchen.

But as our stupid OG is, well, stupid, so I had to go back to get your correct dish.

Silly hoomins

When I came back home, you looked so tired, like “Where you been, Momma? I got places to go.” But you still went to your dish that looks exactly like you. Grandma cut up your pasta and blew on it to make it cool, but you turned up your perfect pink nose at it. You tried but couldn’t eat it off my finger, like you forgot how to lick or chew after your wunchtime whipped cream and cheese that you devoured.

I even picked up tiramisu because you never missed dessert and you love mascarpone. (You love ALL sweets!) You showed more interest in that, but then looked sad because you couldn’t figure out how to eat it. You laid your head down and tried to sleep.

It was about 9 p.m. now. I lit a white candle and cast a protection spell, to give you a peaceful night. I don’t know if the neighbors left town or what, but I got my wish.

Normally I would sleep too, what with loud neighbor nights and early morning feedings with my Kates. But, I had put off a work project for too long … I HAD to finish it by Tuesday. So I worked on my laptop just a few feet from you, and you kept a watchful eye on me.

I am so thankful for that, because I would have missed you leaving this world.

Dreaming of treats

You always struggled with affection and we have the scars to prove it. Especially Grandma — she couldn’t go 10 minutes without kissing her Kates. But lately, you’ve been collapsing in our arms. We knew it was a sign, but we loved that you finally let us love you.

We call this “Kates’ House.” It’s all you, top to bottom. You have several feeding stations. Your cute porcelain kitty bowl in the kitchen. Your red “Treat Seat” by the dining room table. And treats go in many other places, too: Your conch shell rug outside my room. Your pink paw cooling mat by the sliding glass door. Your pink mat in my bathroom. Your towel inside the front door. Your cat hut that looks like you. And of course your buffet of water, dry food and pate behind the couch, because you like to feast in peace.

You loved to snooze on the paper towels Grandma put in front of your dish. Those were there because you ALWAYS prefer to pull your food out of the bowl and eat off the floor. So there were always fresh towels for our Kates.

As you lay on your paper towels Monday night, Grandma came over to cover you with your pink beach towel. You got up and walked to your plush shell rug and collapsed.

You were the perfect little burrito baby in your towel. But that wasn’t you. You HATED being constrained. Kadie from a week earlier would have shredded that towel. This Kadie was staring at the wall and not moving.

Grandma knew, Kadie. She knew you were ready to go. And she would be damned if you were going to do it alone.

Snoozing in a sunbeam by the sea

Grandma picked you up and took you to the couch and held you like a baby. You complained a little about that, like you always have about being loved, but you rested your head on her shoulder and didn’t resist.

You did cry once or twice — I had NEVER heard you cry. Hiss and howl and meow “Love” and “No no no”  and “Otay otay” and “Momma,” sure. But never this.

Your passing went as well as it could have, at home with your family. At 9:59 p.m., Grandma said you peed and I said this is it. Your eyes opened wide and you tried to howl twice, but no sound came out. I wish I could know who or what you saw just over my shoulder that startled you so. Later, when we talked about that moment, Grandma said you didn’t want to leave.

I only got to wear that shirt once. I went from Cat Mom to Vilomeh. That’s Sanskrit for a bereaved parent, or the gray-haired burying the black-haired.

In that moment, I loved that Grandma got to be the last loving face you saw. You girls spent the last 11 years together while I worked and shopped so you girls didn’t have to work or worry. I loved even more that you waited for me.

I was beside you, holding your paws and thanking you for being our kitty. A while later, Mom said it felt like your spirit left your little body, the one that had traveled the entire East Coast with us. She said you felt so light all of the sudden.

Moments — or maybe it was hours — later, the litterbox rattled. We realized we would never hear that sound again. Maybe that was your sign that you were free.

I was reminded of how you and I used to dance to “Moon River.” I don’t know why it was that you loved that song. But you’d croon along. You knew you were our huckleberry friend …

“Wherever you’re going
I’m going your way
Two drifters off to see the world
There’s such a lot of world to see
We’re after the same rainbow’s end
Waiting round the bend
My huckleberry friend
Moon river and me.”

Rather than remembering the two of us on a road trip, I thought of you and Maddie — scampering around the Rainbow Bridge with your angel wings.

I asked you to remember me. I might have asked you to take me with you. Grandma might have promised to come take care of you. And we prayed to the heavens to let us see our girls again.

Grandma and I took turns for hours holding you and loving you and telling you what a good girl you are. We did that while you were here, so I don’t think there were any unspoken words or actions.

I just hope you know how very much you were adored. And maybe that you were glad you found your way to us, too.

I’ll say it again. Good girl Kada. Kadie Marie, cute as can be. Kadie Did Kadoodle Bug Nestor. Our little black kitty girl. Bunny. Kadie Kat Bar. Beanie Baby. My baby. My sweet baby.

Watch over your Grandma, Kates. You and she were my everything. She’s all I have now.

You wore Grandma’s curls so well

We kept you in our arms till well past noon. Your little body wanted to get cold, but you were awash in hugs and hot tears.

I made the mistake of taking you to Peggy Adams around 2. Incompetent. You deserved better. I should have taken you to Deerfield myself, where they sent you on Friday. But I felt you’d been through enough, and being in the car for 40 more minutes — the car without the working AC — was just dumb.

Although amazingly, the AC worked for the entire drive to West Palm with you. I think that was Stewie’s way of honoring our beloved backseat driver who always Houdini’d her way out of even the most-secure carriers to sit on the armrest.

Walking out of there without you was the worst. THE. WORST.

Guess who wormed out of her cage again? I wanna see the beach, Momma!

The cat I’ve hidden in duffel bags and inside jackets to sneak through hotels …

The good girl who always knew when to be quiet in elevators so as not to startle the other guests …

The little Howly Bear who let you know where she was in the house or car at all times …

The girl who purred while she ate …

The tail who followed us everywhere …

Not with us for the first time in 15 years.

One-year-old Kadie hiding under the rug. I keep wishing I’ll find her if I just look hard enough.

It’s dumb that now is the time I finally took a week off work, to grieve your passing and be here for Mom. I should have taken time to enjoy you more while you was here. I should have stayed home Monday, your last day on this earth.

On Friday, Grandma and I drove to Deerfield, to find you. We got to Paws & Cherish and were so glad we did. They knew exactly who Kadie was — the little black kitty girl — and said you had just arrived. I asked them not to send you back to West Palm; I told them I’ll come pick you up myself.

A technician came out to hand paperwork — YOUR paperwork — to the receptionist. He didn’t say it but he didn’t have to. Grandma knew. You were really gone. She later told me, “Kadie knew her Mommy was there.”  I hope you knew, baby bird, that I never wanted to be apart from you in the first place. I still can’t believe our road trip kitty had to take this journey all by herself.

Kadie in 2007, ready to do the Virginia-to-Pittsburgh express to see Grandma.

We haven’t had a trip in a while. And I’ve been feeling terrible about that. Between the car and the apartment hijinx, your health starting to take a turn (not to mention Mom’s health), and my job hijinx of the past calendar year, we missed Christmas and birthdays and all the things we used to do.

But no matter what, you made life happier, Kates. You filled it with love and purrs and hugs and companionship and pretty pink things that cover every square inch of our apartment. Now we see fluffy pink kitty-shaped clouds — two of them at a time, like it’s you and Maddie — and we’re either crazy or blessed to see a sign that you’re OK.

I’ll never forget you, sweet girl. Thank you for loving us. We will love you forever. As long as we’re living, our baby you’ll be.

Bye, Furrlicia ….

Night, night, Kada

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