August 24, 2015

For Bebe

Note: I wrote this on Saturday evening--it's now Monday afternoon.

I often plan blog entries in advance. Today, I was planning how I’d write some detailed descriptions of our day deep cleaning (I’m talking scour pads and bleach) our new apartment.

Sometimes between my plan and when I sit down to actually write, other things happen.

I called my mom to chat about Thailand, and I found out that my cat Berlin died last week, probably right around the time when I left Nebraska. She wasn’t old or sick, so I definitely wasn’t expecting it. After she had been missing for a few days, my brother found her little body on the edge of their property. Based on what he and my stepdad saw, she was probably in a fight, or got injured somehow. She loved to hunt mice and rabbits in the swampy area behind their house, so I guess at least she was in one of her favorite places.

The death of a pet is heart-wrenching. Berlin, or Bebe, as I usually called her, was my cat. I made a questionable decision when I was 19, and my roommate and I ended up with two kittens. Unfortunately, around the same time, I started to do the world-traveling that now defines a lot of my existence.

So my little black cat with white paws and whiskers got to live with my parents, in a much bigger house, with a better yard, and with more places to pee. She had a little trouble adjusting to new places, and usually resorted to peeing on carpet or other surfaces to try to mark her space.

I think she had settled into her surroundings pretty well in the past 5 or so years. Once I left for graduate school, she had discovered the heated floors in my parents’ bathroom. The warm tiles became a favorite place. Recently, she had taken to burrowing under the comforter on my parents’ bed. My mom often sent me photos of the little bump under the blanket.

I’ve often felt guilty that I couldn’t provide for Bebe myself, but I know she had a good life at my parents’ house—much better than she would have had tagging along with me on international flights.

Bebe was a natural hunter and she loved to practice with toys. We used to play a version of fetch with these small mouse toys that I would send careening across the wooden floors of the entryway. Bebe would skitter along after them, struggling to keep her grip on the slick floor. She’d pounce and attack the little mouse for a few seconds before trotting back to me with the mouse in her mouth, ready for the next round. That part of her personality was unique.

She was also a finicky eater, preferring the “paté” version of Friskies food over other textures. Bebe also loved yogurt, especially finishing the last bit from a plastic carton. We had that in common.

My favorite moments with Berlin were our cuddle time. Although she wasn’t a people-cat, when Berlin wanted affection, she made it known. She’d get right up on your lap or your chest, and nuzzle your face with her face. If you stopped petting too soon, she’d nuzzle under your hand to inspire a few more strokes. She liked to knead legs and stomachs as she purred and enjoyed the love. The last time I saw Bebe was one of these cuddle times, and I’m grateful for that.

I’ve always loved cats, and I’m heartbroken that I won’t see Bebe again. I loved her the best I could when I was home, and thought of her every day when I wasn’t.

Her body is buried now in the back yard, under a little wooden cross. I imagine her spirit roaming kitty heaven on warmed tile floors where there’s always a mouse to play with, plenty of paté, and a blanket to burrow under when you need to rest.
Rest in peace my Bebe girl. I will always treasure the time we had together during your life with our family. One day I’ll join you in kitty heaven, but until then I know you’ll be watching over me.