Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Abigail and Cassandra were not sisters, but adoptive siblings surrendered from the same home. They were and remained a “bonded pair” as the MSPCA put it. Abby was born first. A year later along came Cassie. Cassie died first. Six weeks later Abby, the elder, died too.
If you read Cassandra’s story below, you really are reading Abigail’s story as well. “Abby-and-Cassie” or “Cassie-and-Abby” was they way we so often referred to them - as if they were conjoined not bonded. But they each had their own personality and idiosyncrasies.
Cassie was very active. She was usually the one who wanted to get the game of chase going with Abby. Cassie was also very vocal. Abby was quieter; a little more reserved or perhaps mature or dignified. However, there was a major exception to that. Whenever we brought the cats home from the kennel after boarding, Abby would express her displeasure clearly. She would make a clipped little grunting, grumbling sound which could never be mistaken for anything other than disapprobation. At the same time she would stomp her feet as she walked. Seriously, if she had only two feet instead of four she could have been mistaken for a short, sullen teenager. But 24 hours after returning home it would all stop. Apparently Abby believed we had been well chastised, so all was forgiven. Let’s get back to normal.
Normal often meant finding a lap and settling in. If I was stretched out in bed watching television or reading, I usually had two cats on top of me. Abby was always on the left; Cassie was almost always on the right. But she would also sprawl at an angle so as to get the most lap and be up against Abby. When perfectly parallel to one another, with their noses pointed toward my toes, Chuck would call them my “two cat hitch”.
Cassie liked to leap up and over the edge of our clawfoot tub - in and out, in and out. Abby preferred to leap up onto the rounded edge of the top of that tub and walk around and around.
Abby was wicked smart. She came when called - rather puppy-like. Because Abby and Cassie could break out into little skirmishes and sometimes fights at any hour of the day or night, we had to put them out of the bedroom to sleep. All I had to say was “Bedtime” in a high pitched tone and Abby would hop off the bed and head out the door. It may have been routine but it never stopped being amazing.
Abby was beautiful. Cassie too was beautiful plus had the benefit of being charmingly photogenic. But Abby’s black fur with copper and gold highlights could never be properly captured on film - not even her cream colored bib.
For nearly eleven years Cassandra and Abigail loved us, let us love them, entertained us, worried us, annoyed the heck out of us and comforted us. They were our companions; our family.
The end is too recent, too heavy with grief to write about. Just as we had to with Cassandra, we had to decide to euthanize Abigail at the age of 17 and a 1/2, due to irreversible illness. Because of Abby’s passing hard on the heels of Cassie’s recent death, we feel overwhelmed. We were with Abby when she died and there were no words left unspoken to her. For that we are deeply grateful.
Last night, as I held Abby in my lap, I played Áine Minogue’s hauntingly beautiful "Celtic Lamentations". Chuck and I told her everything we loved about her; recounted the story of her adoption and all her other stories. I also told her even though I knew a cat mom shouldn’t say such things, she truly was my favorite. She was feisty and independent, yet sweet and easy going and oh so smart. Abby was the best cat ever. I am very lucky to have been able to tell her over and over how much I loved her, including in her final moments.
As I wrote six short weeks ago, this is the pain I didn’t want. This is the pain I agreed to when I said “Yes.” to adoption eleven years ago. I made the right decision then and I made the right decision this morning. But this is the pain I dreaded. This is the pain I accept; bartered freely for eleven years with my dear Abby.