I am finally able to write about my beloved Dowager Feline Clancy. I didn't think I could share how much she meant to me, but I can now that I have time and perspective. One thing I have learned about writing is that my books always have endings that mirror the beginnings. They end happily and they reflect the growth of the main characters.
As hard as it was to say goodbye to my DFC, I feel our goodbye did reflect the growth of our own characters over the past 19 years. She did grow up with me. She watched me become a mother, a writer, a fully actualized woman. I watched her become a loyal, sweet, feisty fighter who gave the best of herself to our family despite the many changes in our lives. Our ending mirrored our beginning. We started with love and we ended with love. And I believe in my heart that we will see each other again just across the Rainbow Bridge.
First of all, Clancy was a kitten. Sweet, loud, small, a bit of a pee pee cat, but always sweet. She was a true Tourtie and had a bit of a squeamish personality, but we all loved her. We got her when she was 7 weeks old. She was loud and she was feisty. My husband heard her first. So she was eager to be picked. And we did. After we picked her, she became quiet.
Oh, she was quietly naughty. She pee'd in inappropriate places, she was silly, and she was inordinately jealous of my daughter after she was born. Eventually, DFC made her peace with my daughter and all her friends. She was also inordinately good at adjusting. Dowager Feline Clancy was my faithful companion. She was my comfort through 3 miscarriages--a constant purring reminder that life does go on despite my immense grief. She was my happy hour buddy--she got me every day at 5P and sat on my lap, and she was so much my writer cat. Every day Clancy would come to me and sit quietly while I worked. She'd watch my words cross the screen, her paws on the laptop and her eyes moving left to right with each new line being laid down. My sweet muse.
And she was silent. Never meowed unless hurt or hungry or thirsty. She just purred. A lot. This cat was very happy and content with us.
We moved 3 times with Clancy. She put up with TN, VA and AL. She tolerated my daughter. She grew to have a grudging respect for my daughter's cat Mischief. She played with Mischief even in her old age. Every night she'd come to bed and sleep on the pillow above my head. She was a shadow, a feline sister, a gentle spirit.
I loved her. And when she first came down with illness I was in denial. She was strong. Stalwart. And still quiet. But renal failure had hit her. Soon she was very noisy. First for me, second for food, third for water. Eventually her life ebbed away. Still, we hung on. Clancy was my baby. I wanted her to show me when she was ready, but I wanted to hold on to her for as long as possible. I couldn't bear the idea of her dying. And I think I cried myself through every other loss I'd had through the years again and again. I shed so many tears that my soul became a parched wasteland. Then she dropped to such a low weight and she was so sad and she had no desire to be with us because she hurt. But still she had her feisty self: she'd fool me into believing she had more time with the jump to the chair in the sun on the veranda, the purr in my arms, the sweet nature that made her mine.
And oh it was so hard.
Finally, she was unable to be herself. She was unable to be a cat with us. She was unable to be a part of our family. And I had to make the hard decision. The decision that still brings tears to my eyes. After years of silence, I had to hear her cry. Had to hear her beg. Had to hear her ask me to let her go. And my god it was the hardest plea to hear. I didn't want to hear it. I wanted to bring my Clancy back. My sweet DFC. But I couldn't.
So we three, The Physicist and the Teen and I went to the vet. We had to say our goodbye. I don't know how I could say it without my family with me. I don't know how I could have survived this goodbye without them by my side. My darling DFC, her paws on my shoulders and my head to her forehead. My words to her. For her faithful companionship. For her love. For her gift of being with me through the greatest years of my life. We had our sweet goodbye. A sad and yet proper goodbye for she was my good and faithful companion.
My darling DFC taught me how to love. She taught me how to live. She taught me how to say goodbye. She taught me how to love again.
For Clancy. My kitten, my cat, my DFC. May we meet again at the Rainbow Bridge. May you watch my words cross the screen again. And may your capacity to love help me in all my endeavors.