Sometimes, if you are a very lucky person, you may find a very special companionshipship in your lifetime. I don’t mean a man or a woman, but an animal. It may be a dog or a cat or a guinea pig, who comes to know you better than most. On Dec. 29th, 2012, at around 10pm, my little Meeks passed. Mikey has been my guardian, my friend, and my strength in some of the most difficult times of my life. In the past few years, learning to live by myself for the first time in a big city (along with roaches and mice), and not knowing anyone was really difficult, but I never felt alone because of my cat. Mikey was the one little being who was always home to support me, guard me, and take care of me. He was there when I cried, under the covers when I slept, and always down for a good mid-day naptime snuggle. He even greeted me at the door when I came home. He would listen, with his quitet, thoughtful expression, so that I could unload all of my struggles and emotions, and he accepted them with care and understanding.
Most of my life is strewn with memories of this big orange cat. I remember talking on the phone with friends in high school for hours late at night, and the conversation always turning back to Mikey and how awesome he was, referring to him by one of the many bizarre nicknames me and my brother had come up with for him (Michkaelle, Meeks, Miki-sino, JuJu Bee). Mikey and I would lay on the bed, snugged up, as I alternated talking about the universe and how loud and lovely his purr was. I remember when he would try to wake me up for breakfast in the mornings, and I was so tired, so I would just grab him and hug him instead of waking up. He would escape my hug and then come back 1 minute later to try and wake me again. I remember when, at 12 years old, he caught his first mouse, and I jumped up and shouted, but it was because I was so excited and proud. Another time, Mat came to visit me during one Valentine’s day weekend, and Mikey mysteriously spent the entire weekend in my bedroom, and wouldn’t come out. We soon discovered it was because he was terribly afraid of the shiny, red, heart shaped balloon attached to one of our gifts. We quickly removed the offending balloon, and he was free to roam the apartment again. I always told people his favorite color was black, because if there was anything black laying around, be it coat, shirt, or even a binder, he would be laying on it. He also never failed to snuggle up in my suitcase while I packed for a trip, even down to the very last weeks of his life. All of these memories help me to remember that we cared for each other like no other, and that we gave each other the best life we possibly could.
After he passed, I was watching a home movie my mom had found that had Mikey on it. It was of his first Christmas morning. He sat in my lap, looking a little dazed at all the activity and excitement of present-opening. After we had opened his stocking to find kitty food and toys, 10 year old me leaned down sideways into my own lap to look at him, and said, “Are you comfortable, Mikey?” It wasn’t until the moment I saw that home video clip that I realized what a large portion of my life I have spent on that question. Mikey gave me the most loyal, dedicated companionship I’ve known, and to return the favor, that was the question I asked, always. It was more than just about his physical comfort, though. It was about wanting to give him as much as I could, because I so valued and understood what he gave me.
Today was my first day back at home in Minneapolis with Mat. After we arrived last night, I couldn’t stop myself from searching the places he sits in the house, even though I knew he wouldn’t be there. I am still trying to greive, a process I know will take a very long time with him. Even as I try to work through the sadness and loss, I still can’t help but wonder how on earth I became so lucky to find a companion like him. What I'll miss the most, though, are those little details that get hazy with time. His kitty smell, the magnificence of his whiskers, and how sweet his soft little front paws were. And I know that I'll continue to hope, everyday, that he is the most comfortable right now.