Reflections of Times Past

My cat, Starlight, just passed away. She died on New Year’s Day, stretched out on my chest. Her faint, final, heartbeat mingled with my heartbeats, my husband’s hand on her head.

She was a stray, all my animals are. Someone dumped her in the front yard of my home. I heard the car door slam. A few minutes later Pirate, my husky male cat, wouldn’t come away from the window. When I looked out, I saw a little silver head stick up like a periscope from the middle of the lirope that filled my planter box. Pirate would not come to dinner. I ended up bringing the silver cat in. That was late October of 1995. I would like to thank those folks. They gave me a great gift.

Queen of all I survey
Queen of all I survey

She had six toes and a vestigial seventh on each front paw. The sixth toe was so prominent, it looked like a thumb, and that’s how she used it. I had her fixed immediately, and she almost died from a congenital condition. Took a few weeks of feeding her pap, sometimes by rubbing it in her mouth, to save her. For the rest of her life, she was an easy keeper. Never sick a day. Until last month. Her passion was lobster and shrimp. I gave her shrimp for New Year’s Eve. I’m glad I did. It was her last meal. I’m convinced she wanted to see her twentieth New Year’s Eve. It was a milestone. She made it.

In the almost twenty years we were together Star taught me a lot. We’d been through a lot. She is tied in with my memories of a number of dates (good and bad), relationships (good and bad), and jobs (good and bad), you get the picture. She never complained when we moved her from Florida to Maine. In fact, she really loved Maine. She didn’t complain when we moved back to Florida. Except she missed Maine. She was at my side when I married, through breast cancer, and its treatment. She never questioned what I was doing, and she always gave me a soft and fuzzy side when I needed comfort. She told the story of her love affair with Pirate in A Cup of Comfort for Cat Lovers. She served as the model for Paddy Whack in the Catherine Swope Series.

Everything I need to know I learned from my cat? Maybe. She taught me that sometimes you may not get what you want, but you definitely get what you need. You have to roll with the punches of life (even when it means three days in a cage in the back of a car traveling the length of the United States). Home is wherever your loved ones are. The future is always ahead of you, so there’s no need to dwell on the past. If another cat explodes the top of your litter box, while you’re in it, barf in his food dish. Take time to lie in front of the fireplace. When the fire goes out, sleep on the warm bricks. A little ash never hurt anyone. Always live life on your own terms. Eventually, everyone else will come around.

My fire.
My fire.

I miss my Starlight. I value her lessons. She will always be a part of my heart.

How about you? What have you learned from your critters?

Advertisements

Author: kaitcarson

I write mysteries set in South Florida. The Hayden Kent series is set in the Florida Keys. Hayden is a SCUBA diving paralegal who keeps finding bodies. Underwater, no one can hear you scream! Catherine Swope is a Miami Realtor with a penchant for finding bodies in the darndest places. I live in an airpark in Fort Denaud, FL with my husband, six cats and three birds. And oh yes, a Piper Cherokee 6 in the hangar!

23 thoughts on “Reflections of Times Past”

  1. Oh Kait, I’m sorry for your loss. Your tribute to her was beautiful. I haven’t had many critters in my life, but you’ve told us that Starlight was a good soul. Perhaps she served as your needed guide or anchor, and perhaps a new kitty will find you.

    Like

  2. I’m sorry to hear about Starlight. She sounds like a great companion. We had a dog for many years. He taught me always greet someone like you haven’t see them for ages because you can and that the spot in front of the fire is a great place to nap. 🙂

    Like

  3. I’m sorry to hear about Starlight. We had to take our 12 1/2 year old Golden Retriever, Copper, to the vet for his final visit on Dec. 27th. The house seems empty without him. He was a wonderful dog and companion, and he didn’t mind if I read my stories out loud to him. I learned from him to love unconditionally and take pleasure in the smallest things.

    Like

  4. Kait, I’m so sorry to hear this news. Our fuzzies are so important to us, and their loss leaves a hole. Our GSD died a year and a half ago, and I still miss her terribly. We called her velcro-dog, because she had to be near me, always. Your Starlight sounds like a wonderful friend to have! xo

    Like

  5. Beloved fur friends, so hard to lose. You can take comfort in the knowledge that you gave her a wonderful life. And the senior ones need so much special care, their passing really does leave a hole. I had turned my house into the Care Facility for Senior Dog during my cherished antique German Shepherd’s last year. Her meds, her water dishes, her beds and pillows, helping her in and out… she had me on a schedule.
    In a few months, maybe a few more, your grief will soften and sweeten and then you’ll be ready to bring some lucky new stray into your life.

    Like

  6. What a beautiful tribute to Starlight. And what a beautiful name. It’s so hard when they leave us, although we can almost feel them still, in the air around us, in our hearts for sure. I learned so much about you, too. You beat breast cancer. What a triumph. We lost our Wizzer cat just over a year ago. He will always be a part of us. Big hugs from your Mysteristas sister.

    Like

  7. Thank you to all! @EB, she was a wonderful cat, and you are quite right, she was a guide to me. A dear sweet soul. We have seven other cats ages 10 to 2, and they too are adjusting to the loss of Starlight. The balance of power has been upset as Star was queen of the roost. @Mary, YES, what great lessons your dog taught you. I think he and Star may be curled up in front of fire someplace side by side. @ Judy, oh I am so sorry. There are no words that truly honor the feelings of love and loss. Hugs and know that he is waiting at the Rainbow Bridge. I really believe that. @Pamela, velcro dog, that is GREAT. What a wonderful image. I bet you are still feeling her at your side. Unconditional love, that is truly the lesson our critters teach us. It comes so naturally to them, but we do have to learn it. @Anna, thank you. I love the image of a Care Facility for Senior Dog. It’s so important that we make them comfortable as they age. They do it with such grace. @Theresa, Thank you. She was actually named after the Starlight Foundation, I was (and am) very taken with their mission and it was a tribute. It is true, they don’t ever leave us. As long as we have our memories, they are a part of us. Thank you for the hugs. And as for the breast cancer, Class of 2008. Been six years now. Every day a gift and a treasure.

    Like

  8. Hugs, Kait! Star (great name, btw!) was lucky to find your home. Thanks for sharing your tales, and yay on surviving breast cancer! We are down to one rescued cat in our house, and she teaches me the same lessons that all our furry members of the family have taught: no matter how far down the chips may fall, they will always love us for all our faults.

    Like

  9. Kait, I’m so sorry for your loss. This is an amazing tribute to Starlight–she sounds so lovely, and it’s clear that you two gave each other so much love and support. I didn’t know you’d battled breast cancer…what a warrior you are! Hugs for ALL the things.

    Like

  10. Kait, I have indeed learned from the beloved cats I’ve had over the years. I’m so sorry you lost Starlight, and I understand your grief.

    Like

  11. I got tears in my eyes with your first sentence, Kait. Losing our critters is so hard.My Katie Cat is teaching me patience and reminding me all about unconditional love. Not long after we adopted her from the Humane Society, she became quite ill and was diagnosed with mega-esophagus. We saved her, and she’s a lot of extra work, but our lives would not be the same without her (in spite of her snarky, bossy attitude). 😀

    Like

  12. So sorry for your loss. We’re on our second dog. He was just a puppy when my son’s friend decided he couldn’t keep him and he became part of our family. But our first dog, a boxer named Kelly, was very protective and when I had a stroke nearly fifteen years ago, my husband told me she’d go to my side of the bed, like she was looking for me and wondering why I wasn’t there. When I arrived home, she gave me the best greeting. She used to cuddle up under a blanket with me in the winter and I missed that when we had to put her down. She did tend to be a bit overprotective, growling menacingly at anyone she didn’t know, but all in all she was a good dog. It was hard to have to put her down when her hips gave out. She was only nine when she left us.

    Our new dog, Chase, looks a lot like her, but has an entirely different temperament. He loves everyone and can be overexuberant with his greetings, but now that he’s four, he’s starting to calm down just a bit.

    With a pet, you never know what you’re going to get.

    I know you’ll never forget Starlight. Hold those good memories.
    Hugs

    Like

  13. Thank you all. You cannot imagine how much this outpouring means to me. @ Sue – yep, Star is a great name. And unconditional love, that is what our furbabies teach us. They love us through bad hair days, no hair days, and always manage to know just how to help us over the injustices and pains of life. @Maria, thank you for sharing your support. @Cynthia, yep, she was my hero in a lot of ways. @Sydell, thank you. Isn’t it amazing how they shape us with their little paws. @Patricia, I am so glad you stuck with Katie Cat – she sounds very special, and lucky to have you. We have one with heart failure who has been on meds for five years and is doing well enough to fool new vets. Sometimes, late at night, she’ll sneak up on the bed and lick our fingers. She’ll start at the thumb and go to the pinky. We think she’s saying thank you.@Linda, thank you. It was my lucky day too. @Jeanine, thank you so much. @Susan, Dogs know. They just know what you need. Kelly sounds a lot like my Uncle’s dog Baron. He would sleep under my crib and only let a select few near me. Boxer’s are great! Chase sounds wonderful. Yes, it does take them a while to stop being puppies! Enjoy.

    Like

  14. Kait, my sincere condolences. Right after Christmas 2013, we lost our 13-year-old German Shepherd who’d been around the world with us and lived in 5 different countries, keeping us safe through many adventures. She was smart, eccentric, opinionated–in short a very important member of the family for her entire life. Like Starlight, these special souls will always be with us.

    Like

  15. Kait, I’m so sorry for your loss. I know how much a kitty can touch our hearts. Even though my Eldin has been gone for several years, sometimes I still think I feel her jumping onto the food of the bed. She inspired Logan from the Style & Error series, which means I get to keep her alive in her companionship with Samantha.

    Like

  16. @ Carmen, I am so sorry. The hurt never goes away, but it does soften over time and the wonderful memories take over. @Diane, thank you so much. I am so glad that Logan had real life inspiration! I always suspected it. Best of luck with the launch today. Mine’s downloaded and on my Kindle.

    Like

  17. Kait, so sorry to read about Starlight. It’s comforting to know that she was with you when her time came.

    Our fur-friends are with us for too few years, but I’m so glad that the bad people left her with you so that her time wasn’t with them.

    Like

  18. I’m sorry, Kait. I’ve lost a lot of cats and dogs over the years and it always hurts. Starlight looks like the two tabby sisters I have now. I’ve always liked tabby cats. My youngest daughter took in a two year old tabby when a friend of mine died. Hillary traveled around the country with my daughter when she became a travel nurse and then moved multiple times as she moved to different apartments or locations in California with each new job. Hillary became diabetic when she was eight years old, and with Mary’s loving care, she lived to be 23 years old. Mary sent me her ashes so I could bury her next to my beloved collie buried in one of my gardens. Hillary was with Mary when she died, just like I held my collie, Molly, when she died. It’s the best we can do for those who loved us as much as we loved them.

    Like

  19. What a sweet eulogy and a beautiful cat. I have two “official” cats plus I also feed the outdoor cats that have lived on this property for years. One of the outdoor cats died today. Even though she wasn’t “officially” my cat I still feel a loss. Pets are such wonderful companions.

    Like

  20. So sorry, Kait. I lost my sweet kitteh after 22 wonderful years a while ago. It was such a difficult transition–but it sounds like Starlight had a wonderful life. Hugs to you.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s