Sadly, on January 18, this year, my heart broke when my oldest, best friend, Her Majesty Queen Millicent I, ceased this life after a brief illness and caused me to weep as if I had lost my wife, a child, or a human friend. Indeed, Millie was my little girl who was my companion, confidant, and playfellow for 18 years.
My wife and I adopted her in May, 1996, when she was about six weeks old. From that time until her death, she ruled! A bright, vivacious kitten, she delighted in chasing me through our house, attacking me in mock viciousness, pretending with her little ears plastered to her head to be ferocious. We loved her intensely.
Millie actually belonged to my wife Miriam, a cancer survivor who, after completing a successful treatment program, asked for a kitty, as she put it. It sounded good to me. Miriam taught second grade, and when a secretary in the office revealed that her cat delivered four kittens the day before, my wife told the secretary that she wanted one.
We waited until the mother cat weaned them and time for adopting was good. When we arrived at the secretary’s house, two of the kittens were adopted with two left, Millie and her brother. As we learned later, Millie was tenacious. As her mother tried to avoid her, Millie kept running after her and trying to nurse.
Millie was a fluff of gray fur with “tiger” stripes of black. But, what fascinated us was the “M” mark on her forehead that we later learned was a mark common for tabbies such as Millie. For us, however, the “M” connected Miriam to her initially (pun intended). When Miriam scooped her up, she nestled in Miriam’s arms, and that was it; she was ours, or more accurately, we were hers.
We were mad about her. She owned the house, and in the evenings, she resided on Miriam’s lap, and woe unto me if I tried to remove her. She was my play-buddy, but she belonged to Miriam.
Well, in 2006 Miriam became an invalid because of severe osteoporosis. She never got well and died that year in August. A few minutes after Miriam died, Millie came into the bedroom, jumped upon the bed, and sniffed her best friend’s face. Then, she turned and walked over to where I was standing, sobbing by the bed, and placed her sweet head under my arm, staying there until I picked her up and snuggled her in my arms. She knew her mommy was dead, and I’ll always believe she tried to comfort me and hide her grief.
Millie and I were joined at the hip, so to speak, after Miriam’s death. A few years later I fell in love with a wonderful woman, Terry, and Millie came to live with us. Even as she grew older she was quite lively. She appropriated my lap and many evenings she would lounge there will I read or watched TV. I love classical music, and from all I could tell, Millie did, too. She’d stretch and listen with me. Although Mozart was her favorite, she seemed to dance when I played Beethoven’s Ninth.
I noticed a few days before she died that Millie was not herself. She stopped eating, purred very little, and hid under the bed, something she didn’t often do, and she stopped curling up with me. Her veterinarian examined her and said it was possible she’d had a stroke. As I held my baby girl and told her how much I loved her and would miss her forever, she looked straight at me as if she understood, and then she turned away and died. I promised her when she was a kitten that I would never let her suffer, and although the vet assured me Millie was not in pain, her quality of life would never be the same. Though she was and always will be my baby girl, she was, in fact, an old lady and it was time.
Her cremains are in a cute little urn on my bookcase, and in a weird way, I feel she’s still here, jumping on my lap and keeping me from writing because, hey, it was her world and she was boss. Yes, unapologetically, I am an anthropomorphizer.