I had a visitor last night, after everyone was asleep. She often comes late at night, but I don't mind. Actually I am always happy to see her, and I cherish those moments ... however fleeting.
We have known each other for 12 years or so, and she was there for me during some really rough times. When I lost my baby 3 years ago, she was there to comfort me. She sat with me while I sobbed and though no words were spoken, her green eyes told me so much.
What made this so wonderful was even though she was showing signs of being ill, and was beginning to lose weight- she never faltered in her unconditional love. Months later she would indeed be very ill. When I think of her, I cry tears of joy and sadness. I miss her so much.
Last night, in my sleep... she came to me. She was not the first cat that I was to be own by, but she and her brother were adopted at a time when I longed for something to love and nurture, but knew children would never be.
When we adopted Ursa and Yuri, they were only 3 weeks old. We came for one of course, and I immediately chose Yuri. He slept at the bottom of a wiggly fur pile, and all I could see of him was a black and white nose with a bit of orange. It turned out that the bit of orange was formula, but I loved him anyway. As I held him in my arms, the volunteer told us that because they were so young, needing bottle feedings every 2-3 hours, we would have to take two. My husband, being the practical man he is reminded me that we already had 3 cats and tried to steer me in another direction. Bottle feeding? How perfect! I couldn't imagine anything else... my husband on the other hand was less than enthused. I stood my ground and refused to budge.
With a helpless sigh my husband and I tried to decide between a pair of twins. "Pick the quiet one," he said, pointing to the gray and white ball of fur that wasn't yeowling at the top of her lungs when touched. Thinking that we had picked a pair of quiet and cuddly kittens, the joke was on us!
Ursa and Yuri turned out to be yin and yang. Where Ursa showed more personality and intellect than the average kitten- being wiry with scant fur, Yuri was dumb as a rock, but very sweet and cuddly, soft and fluffy. Since I was the proud momma of 2 baby kittens, I tried to use what knowledge I had to be a momma kitty to them. I bonded with them by actually licking their necks (I know, I am a goof!) and rubbing my chin on them as if I were grooming them, and used wash clothes to wipe their bums... to stimulate elimination like momma kitties do.
Though we tried to keep them in a box, they soon learned to climb out and we would wake to find them curled up on our necks. Years and many pounds later, Ursa would still attempt at sleeping on our necks but learned that our pillows were more spacious and comfy. I can't tell you how many times I woke to find that I had been sleeping on a tiny corner of my pillow, while the Green Eyed Goddess slept luxuriously on the rest.
I truly believe that Ursa thought she was human, having been adopted at such a young age. She called my name (Maaaa!), talked back, and answered her name when called. She also showed signs of sibling jealousy when Anna was born, and was very upset that the new furless addition was so noisy and intruded on her precious lap time. So, she got my attention by crying like a new born baby at the top of our stairs. Many times I was confused because though I could hear a baby crying, it wasn't coming from Anna's baby monitor. She like to take showers with me occasionally, but always jumped in the tub when I was done... cleaning her hind quarters after a good soaking. She also liked to share our drinks, but would test the temperature with the tip of her paw first. After she discovered the joys of licking moisture from her paws, she would was her hands after using the litter box. Unfortunately , it was in the water that every other fur kid drank from, requiring frequent water changes and cleaning.
Yuri would have a short life, and would suffer through 3 months of labored breathing. I noticed one day after he and Ursa had been spayed/neutered at 5-6 months that he seemed to be short of breath and his lungs sounded wet. We took him in, and after a heart ultra sound we were told that he had a heart valve birth defect. Several times a day we gave him pills of baby aspirin and Lasix (a diuretic), many times to find that the little booger had cheeked them and spit them out under the bed. I guess he was a lot smarter than we gave him credit for. Yuri died at 9 months, shortly after speeding him to the vet after finding him gasping for air. I think we both new he would die that day, but that didn't stop us from driving as fast as we could , both of us in hysterics at the though of losing the sweetest and most loving cat we had ever known. Our baby.
Ursa, we realized, had probably known all along that something was wrong with Yuri. She practically cleaned the fur off of that kid. She constantly licked and fussed over him. He never fought her, he would just lay there and let her do her thing, softly purring and squinting in delight.
That would be the first day Ursa would bite me on the foot, and not the last. All she knew was that I was taking her sick brother somewhere, I was putting him in the carrier as he yelped and gasped. When we came home without him, she bit me once more, only harder. I knew she blamed me, since I was the one who had stuffed him in the crate, and I cried harder.
Every once in a while, at least once a day, Ursa would come up and give me a good chomp on the foot in passing, lest I forget (in her eyes). I never forgot. Yuri died April 3rd, just 2 days before my best friend was married. Still , to this day, on that day every year I weep for him. But always with a smile.
Last night, in my dreams she came to me... and bit me. It's been almost three years since she has done that, almost three years since we put Ursa to sleep for cancer, just 3 short weeks after John dad passed away from the same. Only this time, she bit me on my hand.
I am hoping that since she has had almost threes year of catching up with Yuri in furball heaven, she may have finally forgiven me.
Miss you, Ursa. I can't wait to see you again, even if it's in the my dreams.