Unexpected death leaves my heart aching

by Lynda
(Tulsa, OK)

Beautiful and Sweet Sophie

Beautiful and Sweet Sophie

16 plus years ago a young lady who worked for me told me she had found a stray cat in her condo complex and decided to rescue her. She turned out to be pregnant and had 5 or 6 kittens very soon. My employee was so enamored with the adorable kittens she stated she was keeping them all. About 4 months later, she realized that have six cats in her condo might not be as much fun as she had imagined. I had recently lost a very dear cat (who was accidentally let out of my home and never seen again). So, I told her I'll take one of the kittens.I followed her home the next night, and when we got inside I saw all these kittens - who were, quite frankly, pretty wild. I was a very experienced cat owner (having had 10 or more over 3 decades). I sat down in the middle of her living room floor and waited to see if any of the kittens would be curious to meet me. Within a few minutes, this adorable black girl came over to investigate and let me pick her up. I decided she was the ONE! I borrowed a pillow case (if you don't already know, they are excellent for transporting a cat a short distance), and she and I headed to my home - about a 45 minutes drive. She was in my lap in the pillow case all the way - and I spoke to her and tried to soothe her as she cried pretty much the whole trip.When we got home I quarantined her into my bedroom suite (pretty large) to give her time to adjust to a new home. My granddaughter was living with me at the time (aged 3) and I knew she might love the new kitty TOO much. Within a few days, my new little girl seemed very happy in her new surroundings and then with the rest of the family. We decided to name her Sophie.Within a couple of weeks I took her in to get all her shots and to be spayed. She did great. All this took place in the late Fall of 1999.>In 2001 the company I worked for went out of business and I was offered a great job with a major professional firm in Oklahoma. So, Sophie and I moved there. I bought a very nice house and Sophie primarily spent her days in my bedroom, but at night she ventured out to find any prey that might need catching. She was strictly an indoor cat, but she would "catch" some mail she found in the kitchen and bring me the reward of her prey. It was pretty hilarious - she would be loudly meowing all the way down a fairly long hall between the kitchen and my bedroom.She also got into the routine of letting me know when it was my bedtime. I normally go to be fairly early and read or listen to music for a while. So - if I did not head toward the bedroom within a few minutes of the "normal" time - she would come out and find me and let me know it was bedtime.Sophie never was much of a lap cat. She liked to sit by or near you - and she loved to sleep by me - but not a lap sitter. From the time she came home with me, I used to always give her a big hug every morning - and she seemed to really enjoy that.She was such a sweet cat - so good and a bit shy. She didn't really care for strangers, but there were certain extended family members she always liked very much. Over the next many years, she was healthy and playful. She especially like a wadded up small paper bag - and she had started really liking to be brushed. She had the most amazing velvety soft coat - and her eyes were a lovely light green. Really a very beautiful girl.Fast-forward to January 2016. I came home from work, made my dinner and sat down to watch Jeopardy. She was by me on the couch. After I was done eating, she came closer and rolled over so I could pet her belly. I loved on her for quite a while. She then got down and went to my room where I keep her food and litter box. She was back within a few minutes so I thought she was hungry or thirsty. She jumped back up on the couch, and then she started to jump onto the back of the couch which was a favorite spot. At first, I just thought she missed the jump, because she fell back. But immediately I realized she was not moving. I went to her and gently rolled her over and I could see something was very wrong. She cried out to me 2 loud and pitiful sounds, and then she died. I really didn't know she was dead at first because she would occasionally seem to catch her breath. We rushed her to a vet ER and they told me her heart had stopped. She was gone.She was 16 years old - and of course, I knew she would not live forever. But within the previous six months she'd been in for a checkup and the vet had remarked on what good shape she was in. I think I got a false sense of security from hearing that - I thought she'd live several more years.I knew when the time came, losing her was going to be hard. And, I don't know if it was the fact that she literally dropped dead right in front of me or a combination of that and losing her at all - it has really thrown me for a loop.Like I said - I've had numerous cats over the past decades, and I've been sad at the loss of each one - but this is so painful and the loss seems too much to bear. Maybe it is because of so many deaths in my family leading up to hers (I lost a dear aunt and cousin shortly before). Whatever the root cause, my heart is truly sore. I still have another cat and a dog that I love and who are sweet, so I have to keep going on. Being a fairly rational person, I realize that I am grieving - and I want to grieve to give substance to the beautiful life she led and all the love she provided to me.One day, the grief will be a little less, and then one year, it will be even more so. In the meantime, I miss her so much. I cannot actually process the fact that I'm not going to see her sweet face again. She was the most precious companion I ever had.

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