There are a lot of things I could have titled this post that play on the fact that our cat's name was Hope and that Hope is now dead. I certainly didn't think of this when I named the cat in the first place, but in the last place, it is sort of funny. Hope was just shy of turning 12, and she was gifted to me by John on the very first Christmas that we were dating in 2003. He was a brave and wonderful boyfriend.
(that is one of the tassels from John's graduation regalia. from undergrad - Hope went way back.)
I named her Hope, because she had an H on one of her soft calico sides, and because I needed hope. My dad had passed away months earlier, and I was trying to figure out how to go on. Hope became my sweet little companion who slept next to me so many nights of the last 12 years. She grew up with John and I and followed us so many places.
We were all babies together. John and I learned how to take care of something together as Hope was shuttled between our homes in the very earliest of days before we were married. We tackled fleas and worms and minor surgery (spaying) and faced my own psychotic fears of getting her declawed after doing internet research about it (almost always the worst idea) and it all being completely fine. It really was good practice for parenting, with much lower stakes.
When we settled in Little Rock and welcomed another little kitty into our home, Hope eventually warmed completely to Francie, and they were best buddies.
Hope didn't have the most welcoming persona to strangers, but she loved her people well (mostly me). She tolerated our children and let them love on her. If she didn't like it, she got up and left, which was totally her prerogative, and I couldn't blame her. But often, she just stayed and liked to be near the action, if not apart of it. Our children loved her very much.
(This is Bella showing how she and Hope have the same color blonde in places.)
Hope had a rapid and unexpected decline over the last month, and after several visits and a round of medications, the vet eventually concluded that it was very likely cancer. We opted not to do surgery or chemo/radiation. On Sunday night it became clear to me that she was not doing very well and after a last vet consultation on Monday afternoon, we made the decision to put her to sleep today. We wanted a little time to say goodbye and prep the kiddos for what was happening.
I've been so sad this week and shed tons of tears, but I was glad to know the time we had and be able to enjoy it. Lily has taken it hard, randomly breaking into tears and saying "Kitty!" and "I'm going to miss her." It's meant a lot of talking about death and Heaven and what happens after we die. We've been very up front with the girls, and I've been thankful for the questions and honesty and grieving together.
Our family and friends have been oh so gracious and kind this week, and I have really appreciated it. In some ways, it feels trivial to be this upset over the death of a cat. But, she has been more than just a cat in my little world. She's been my fur-friend, and she's seen so much of my life in the last 12 years and has never stopped loving me. Pets are magnificent in their open-hearted, unblinking loyalty and love, and she always purred for me, even at the end. She wanted to be near me no matter what.
(She was not supposed to be up on the hutch, but she looked so happy there, I decided to leave her.)
John and I took her to the vet's office this afternoon as I held her and wept. It really is a family rite of passage to lose our first pet. It feels like another stone on our path of togetherness, and John was so incredibly kind and gracious with me every step of the way. We both shed tears sitting there petting her. It was hard and certainly not flawless at the end, but I'm glad that she is no longer sick and suffering. She was a good cat, and I'm so thankful for the comfort that she brought me in so many moments of the last 12 years. She will be missed by us all.