We took possession of our house on July 26, 2006. We changed the flooring upstairs on the 27th, moved everything on the 31st and settled into our first home. Thursday, a scant three days later, we were sitting on the back porch. My wife’s mom and dad had joined us bringing a bottle of celebratory wine.
We were sitting, chatting, and planning the landscaping adventure that would be the backyard project over the next couple of years when we were joined by a very chatting tabby. Myah myah myah myah myah myah myah myah myah! She told us all about her life up to that point, who she was, and by the way did we know she had just chosen us?
We gave her some tuna. We said if she was still there in the morning we would consider the possibility of having a cat. She spent most of the night just outside our door telling us that we had forgotten to let her in. She scolded Byron the crazy squirrel for daring to come near her people’s door. The next morning I went out to cover the barbeque and she wasn’t there. Oh well. I took no more than two steps when I heard scrabbling feet and chattering. Myah myah myah myah myah myah myah. I’m here. I just had some stuff to do under the porch so do you my food for this morning?
I gave her a bowl of (lactose free) milk. She seemed happy.
We talked about it and opened our door. She walked right in, looked around, stated that things were appropriate and curled up for a much needed deep sleep. A few thousand dollars later we had a one-eyed, tailless cat with no intestinal parasites (because food only comes from people and never from this hunting thing everyone talks about). She was a brilliant, logical reasoning, polydactyl with an enormous intelligence and attitude. She would do something only if you explained why and how. She was certain that she was on the same level of importance as people were.
On Saturday she left this world. Freya was seven years old.
She was one of the most important beings in our lives. She protected us. She took care of us. She loved us. Whenever Kate’s kidneys were about to flare up she had a tabby cat pressed against her back for the entire night. Whenever I was ill or suffering from a bout of depression Kate would leave Freya in charge and ask her to keep an eye on me. God forbid I did anything that the ten pounds of fur decided was inappropriate because the moment Kate walked in the back door Freya would charge into the kitchen yelling her head off. I would follow either proclaiming my innocence or explaining that I was indeed in charge and I could do whatever it is I wanted to do. The two of us constantly battled for the right to be second-in-command. She would acquiesce to shut me up.
She loved her brother Cotton. The first weekend we had the two of them together Kate and I were working in the backyard and were subjected to yet another chorus of “you’re outside and I’m all alone” from our princess. Only she was then joined by her new brother, sitting right beside her in the bathroom window, exclaiming the exact same phrase and sounds. I told them they weren’t alone in the house because they were sitting next to one another. They looked at each other, looked at me, and went on to do whatever it is cats do.
She re-taught him how to be a cat. He taught her how to behave with other cats.
When he was in his final days she gave up her fortress of solitude for him. She grieved for him the night he left and spent more than a few nights sitting next to his urn when he finally came home. When Cotton and Sybil were fully integrated she grabbed Cotton’s fish for the first and only time in her life, brought it out to the landing, and showed it to her new siblings. She sat with them for half an hour that night telling his story.
Wednesday will mark the longest we have ever lived in this house without her. Every room has some of her story attached to it. Every blanket has a cat dent. Ever window has a silhouette. I pass by and my heart rips again whenever she is not in one of her spots. I miss her nyahs. I miss her checking on all of her family. I miss her.
Our life would never have ended up the way it has without her. She is the reason for so many things we do. She is the reason we are who we are. For all I know, the reason we are still married is due to our bundle of tabby.
She was, and ever will be, first cat.
Blinkies and goodbye Sweetheart. Take care of your brother for us. We will always love you.