You loved me since the day I knocked on your door. I was injured and hungry but that didn’t matter; you were there, and you had a smile on your face. Already, I knew I had found my forever-home.
What I failed to tell you, Meowmy, was that I was already sick. I was just a kitten, you see, and my life as a stray had been rather awful. I had nothing to eat but scraps of food and nothing to drink but dirty water. I had nowhere to go whenever it rained. I was unwanted and unloved.
On top of things, I was also dying.
That same day I knocked on your door, you gave me something to eat and drink. What you didn’t know was that you also gave me hope. I knew I didn’t have much time left, but meeting you made that short time worth my while. I knew life was going to get better, even if it was going to be cut short.
Since that day, I had always felt safe. I knew there would always be food and clean water for me. I knew I would have a comfortable place to sleep, no matter the weather. I knew you would always be there, your lap always warm, your voice always kind.
That was why I felt guilty for not telling you sooner about my illness. You see, I didn’t want to be a burden to you.
I’m sorry, Meowmy, if my death came as a surprise.
I knew you tried your best to nurse me back to health. You brought me to a vet to look at the gash on my back. You gave me a cute shirt to wear so that I wouldn’t scratch my wound.
Best of all, you sang to me every night as I fell asleep on your lap. Right there was the one place where nothing could go wrong. Right there, I knew what heaven felt like as you lulled me to sleep with your songs and stroked my fur with your gentle hands.
I wanted so badly to talk to you that I learned to meow in a special way. I squeaked like a rusted door hinge – you laughed so hard, remember, Meowmy? I would do that only when you were around.
I always came running whenever you called me, except for that day I felt too ill to go down the stairs. I tried my best, Meowmy. I crawled to the landing where you could see me, but I couldn’t go any further. I could barely breathe. Something was very wrong.
You picked me up in your arms, your voice filled with worry. You had me brought to the vet once more but they told you it would take time before they could say what was wrong with me.
I appreciate how you watched over me until sunrise, but I felt bad that you cried when I didn’t get any better. I was slipping away, Meowmy. I tried hard to fight it, but I failed.
I’m sorry. I knew you tried to save me.
That fancy place with many other sick animals like me was scary, but I knew you brought me there for a reason. One of my lungs had collapsed. They made a comfortable bed for me and gave me air to breathe, but it was all too much for me. My body started to convulse and I passed out.
When I came to, I couldn’t move anymore. I saw you come in, Meowmy, and I wanted to tell you that I could see you even when I could no longer squeak and rub against your gentle hands. I couldn’t move my body – I didn’t know what was happening to me – but I wanted you to know that I loved you.
Life after Death
Then, you whispered in my ear. You told me that from that moment on, you would adopt me and I would no longer be just a foster baby. What did that mean, Meowmy? Did it mean I could go home with you for the rest of my life if I lived through it all?
That brought me so much joy. I was no longer an orphan! I knew you were my Meowmy all along! I wanted to meow with joy but I was too weak to even keep my eyes open. I could hear your voice. You didn’t want to leave me.You told me I didn’t have to hold on for you and that if I was too tired, I could just let go.
Thank you, Meowmy. It was all I wanted to hear. I was too guilty to fall asleep because I didn’t want to make you sad, until you said it was alright.
My soul left my body in my sleep. No more pain for me, Meowmy. I earned my beautiful angel wings that morning.
I wanted to hug you when you cried. I wanted to purr when you took my lifeless body home. I wanted to sleep on your lap. I wanted to squeak my hello. I’m sorry I couldn’t, Meowmy. I know it saddens you that I’m gone, but don’t you see? I died knowing what love was because I lived knowing you.
I will wait for you over the rainbow bridge. Will you still recognize me, now that I have fancy wings instead of a wound on my back?
Thank you for the noms. Thank you for the lullabies. Thank you for the kisses and hugs. You see, Meowmy, I was with you for just a month, but I left with a lifetime’s worth of memories.
Best. Life. Ever.
This appeared in Animal Scene magazine’s November 2018 issue.