Frieda died about three-o-clock this morning when her brave heart finally failed. It was in this house almost seventeen years ago that I was the first human to touch her, to speak to her. This morning, I was the last to do so as well.
I sat with her on the deck yesterday afternoon for about an hour. She loved being outside so much, I think the prospect of those outings kept her going these past few months. We certainly made a point of taking her out whenever the weather would allow. She would totter from the back yard to the greenhouse and beyond, resting frequently but obviously happy in her freedom. Yesterday she was too weak to walk, but I carried her bed outside and let the sunshine warm her fur for the last time.
Every time I spoke to her or stroked her, her little paws would knead in pleasure. I watched those pink paws flex and thought of all the years and all the trails those little pads had carried her on over the last seventeen years.
I told her that there was a green wood full of sunlight and in a glade there, her sisters and mother were waiting for her. I told her she would be with Johnny and Newt and it would always be summer in a woodland she could wander unfettered to her heart's content. I told her we would miss her but it was okay for her to go on now. We would always remember and love her.
When she had her tail shortened in 2002, I expected that she would eventually succumb to cancer. The fast-growing lump that made her tail-abbreviation necessary seemed an ominous sign. But Frieda just persisted. Her kidneys started failing about two years ago. I was sure that she wouldn't survive the winter of 2006 but she did. She just kept going. This past winter, I watched her grow thin and frail and balanced on the edge of that dreaded decision. But she got better and her appetite returned.
Frieda didn't know how to quit.
Her will was strong. It was her indomitable heart that finally demanded rest.
Her death marks the passing of an era, a time that began seventeen years ago when a pregnant calico cat showed up looking for shelter. She is the last of that little family that brought joy to our home and made us a house of many cats.
Our house is diminished today, lessened by much more than just one small, old cat.
We love you, Frieda and are so glad to have shared your life.