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Saying Goodbye

It’s been over a week since I last held Flora and I finally trust myself to write about her. This evening I’ll be saying goodbye to Frey, and my heart is just broken.

I got Flora and her sister, Snicklefritz from the Animal Shelter 18 years ago. Having grown up with black cats, I wanted a solid white one. It was pure coincidence that just moments before I called the shelter to see if they had any kittens, a litter of 10 had just come in the door. When I got there to pick out one for myself, I was greeted by the tiniest balls of fluff crawling all over each other. There were 2 gray and an assortment of white and gray kittens. I immediately called mom to let her know of the bounty, and to ask if I could get a second one for my little sister. She consented. I picked out one that was solid white with just a small spot of gray above one brow, Flora, and another who had a perfect gray V on top of her head, Snicklefritz. Both kittens lost the gray as they grew up into beautiful solid white cats.

Flora had attitude. She hung a claw in my step dad’s nose, she once batted and scratched my eyeball, she’d bitten (and drawn blood) on most of my nieces and nephews. She destroyed house plants, broke dishes, even ran across my face in the night a few times. I worked a lot back then and I thought she was lonely. I went to Wal-Mart one day to pick some things up and while I was there, a man was standing in front of the store with 3 kittens. Back then it was common to see free kittens and puppies in front of Wal-Mart. As I was leaving the store somehow an adorable, long haired, solid black kitty was shoved in my face. I fell in love and the next thing I knew I was taking home a pet for Flora.

Flora never forgave me for bringing home Frey. They played some, but Frey’s favorite past time was to sneak up on Flora while she slept and slap her head and run away. He was definitely the antagonizer in most of their scuffles. But when I sat down to watch tv or read a book, they both found their spot on or near me and we would cuddle for hours. As much as I love Flora, Frey was my snuggler, and typically followed me around the house demanding attention. Aside from the handful of times he spazzed out and attacked me, he was a very loving cat (though not to children).

Over the 18 years we were together, Flora and Frey were my constants. Through all the moves, career changes, boyfriend changes, roommate changes, and then the biggest move of all, from city living to farm life, they were there. Flora didn’t adjust well to moving to the farm and it really took its toll. I feel so guilty about moving her. It was a hard year watching her health decline and trying to fix it. Toward the end Frey must have sensed her decline, because his health took a sudden turn too. Saying goodbye to those two has been the hardest goodbyes I’ve ever experienced.

I had to make a hard call today about Frey. It was harder to make his appointment than it was for Flora. With Frey around I still felt her presence. With losing him too, I feel as though I'm losing her all over again.

A few weeks ago when I realized they wouldn’t be around much longer, I started planning on building them a beautiful garden. It's kind of fitting. Over the years, every time I would pull my seeds out for sorting and planning, they would insist upon laying on them.

In their memorial garden I will plant only black and white flowers in their memory. And it will be in that garden I lay them both to rest.

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