I've never written a eulogy for a cat before. Part of it is sad, but after watching my daughters cry so much, I wanted to make them laugh a little, too. Out of all the pets we've had-- and that's included rats, a hamster, other cats, lizards, frogs, and a foster dog-- Lily was the one they were most attached to.
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Lily, you’re so silly. Silly Lilly. You’re head’s so big and your body so tiny—how do you even hold the thing up? You’re the last one in the box, the runt of the litter, but John and Cady fell in love with you anyway, so off we go. I think you’ll like your new home; it’s big, and there’s two kitties that you can play with, and we’re sure they’ll take care of you (uh-oh—they don’t like you much at first, but eventually Cleo becomes your play buddy, chasing you around in the mornings while Figaro blandly looks on).
Silly little Lily. Why are you chasing dust motes in sunbeams? You remind me of a Jack Russell Terrier jumping up to catch a Frisbee. And my goodness—I’ve never seen such a puny little cat jump five feet straight up a sliding glass door to attempt to catch moths fluttering on the other side. The way you act surprises me, for I’ve too long had domestic longhairs, who are much calmer and nonchalant than tabbies. Please stay out of the tomato plants; they’re not there for you to eat!
Willy Nilly Lily—you’ve become our little doggie, running around like a nut, jumping on the swivel chair whenever John teases and says, “I’m gonna get you!”, playing hide and seek as he spins the chair around, your pupils fully dilated, darting back and forth to catch his hand. You love this playtime; you love your daddy. Your nickname is Slurpy, because we can hear you drinking water from a room away. Your gallop can be heard across the house, and I laugh almost every time I fill your food bowl and you come a-running. You’re more than a nut, you suffer from multiple personality disorder. Why won’t you let us pick you up? Did the girls pick you up too much when you were a kitten, and it’s payback time? We can’t pick you up, but our laps are perfect beds for you. You crazy little thing.
You never forgot your momma, did you? Flannel blankets must feel like her; I don’t know how long it took you to quit nursing them. Your favorite spot is by the sliding glass doors, where you can sit in the morning sun or hunker down and talk to the birdies that flock to our yard. I think your favorites are the doves—they’re nice and plump, aren’t they? I don’t think you like the mockingbirds, who take to dive-bombing you when we take you on a trip outside.
Poor Lily. Cleo’s passing really affected you. Why did you scream at Figaro? Were you upset and confused about your buddy being gone, or were you just upset at being left alone with the crabby old lady cat? You may have been scared then, but you were fearless when we temporarily housed Daisy, and whenever Roxy came to visit with my parents. Doggies are nothing when you have sharp little claws, an intimidating hiss, and a speedy little body.
Little Lily. You were so sweet and small and endearing, even to a woman who didn’t want another cat. You talked so much but they weren’t human words—or did you ever try to tell us you were sick? We thought your skinny little body was finally plumping out—not that you had an infection. You waited too long to stop eating and start sleeping most of the time. You were so good and quiet in the car while we drove to the vet—I told you it would be okay and you listened. I wish that I’d been able to give you a proper goodbye, instead of simply saying, “Bye, Lily—be good,” and giving you a kiss on the nose. You didn’t know why you had to stay at the vet; why you were X-rayed; why your world suddenly turned black.
Did you see us yesterday when the girls and I came to visit? I saw your paws twitch; I saw your eyes move. I wish you’d come out of the anesthesia enough to know for sure. I hope you saw us there, Lily, and I hope you don’t hate us for leaving you there. I hope the anticipation of returning home to the ones you knew loved you, and you loved, kept you happy in those final minutes before you died.
You’re back home now, Lily; our scrawny little kitty. You’re next to Cleo, who spent so much time playing with you and whose loss we know you felt very deeply. If there’s a kitty heaven I hope ya’ll are up there playing now; maybe she’s teaching you to catch and actually eat bugs, something you never were able to master. Maybe you’ve found the softest flannel blanket and are laying on it, enjoying its warmth and comfort. Maybe you’re just tearing like a bat out of hell around the place and enjoying the freedom, unbound by a house and unlimited by walls. Or maybe you’re just enjoying a clump of grass; you used to tear into that stuff like it was going out of fashion.
Why say rest in peace, silly little Lily? You had a good life. Ours is forever touched and changed by it, and we'll miss you.
"S is for SUSAN who perished of fits
T is for TITUS who flew into bits..."--The Gashlycrumb Tinies, by Edward Gorey