My beloved cat, Bogart, died in my arms on Monday, November 30, 2009 and there has not been one day since that I have not thought about him.
He was 17 years old, and I knew him since the day he was born. Writing about his death is one of most difficult tasks that I have ever done. Since I want this to be a celebration of his life, I will not go into details at this time. I would like to share with you, something that happened a few days after his death when I went back to work.
You know how a number of people say there are no words that will help you feel better when you are grieving and it is true, however, I’ll never forget a co-worker of mine named Jennifer who said: “Toni, I am so sorry to hear about Bogart, I know how much he meant to you.” To me that was amazing. I often wonder if she knows how much that meant to me. I don’t think she can.
I was not the only person who knew he was special. Nearly everyone he met fell in love with him. Everyone that I know knew about Bogart five minutes after first speaking with them.
One time, I was having a few friends over and while speaking with one, Amanda said, “Toni, this is who the ancient Egyptians had in mind when they decided to worship cats.”
I turned around to say something and she was holding him in her arms like a baby and this was the first time that she met him. They looked so happy and content.
One time recently, I took a writing class and was told to bring a picture that means something extraordinary to me. I brought one of my favorite pictures of Bogart, naturally. The teacher, none other than local author Lauretta Hannon, has us swap pictures with the person sitting next to us. We were instructed to write about what we see in the picture.
She named him Jinx and she loved the name Bogart because a cat that looks like that needs a special name.
She wrote about walking in a park and happened to come across a cat that appeared to be a kind old gentleman. He told her to breathe, relax, and become the person you were meant to be. It amazed me that she came up with that in under five minutes and from one photograph.
When Bogart was 10 years old, he had to have a tumor removed from his ear canal. The operation was done in a specialist office in Roswell and he needed to stay for a few days.
The veterinary technician that was taking care of him told me how lucky I was to have a cat that loveable and special. She even went out of her way to drive him closer to home to his regular doctor’s office so that it would be easy for me to pick him up. She did this on her free time.
You may have heard the phrase “I wish I was the person that my dog thinks I am.” Boy if I was the person that Bogart thought I was, I would be the best person that ever lived. Of course, this is not the case.
I was the center of the universe for Bogart and at the time he was born, it was a new feeling for me. When I first moved to Marietta, I had a town house and Bogart would take one of his toys from upstairs and bring it to where I was downstairs and drop it by my feet. That’s rare for a cat to demonstrate that kind of behavior.
Also, when I first got married, Rob would get home from work earlier than I and sweet Bogart knew what time I was going to be coming home, and he would come down the stairs, and wait by the door until he knew I was home, and then he would let Rob know that I was home and he was so well behaved, that Rob would open the door for him and he would walk down our long driveway to greet me each evening. Not bad for a 17 year old cat with kidney disease and a slipped disk.
He was so proud coming to welcome me home; it made me smile to see the look of determination on his face. It was so pleasant to me after working a long day at the Department of Family and Children Services. It was just one of the countless ways he made me feel special.
Towards the end of his life, he had a bit of trouble jumping up and he would come by me and look at me with his beautiful green eyes and I used to say “come on old man, I want you in my lap as much as you want to be in it”, and picked him up and put him in my lap where he would stay for hours.
I have learned countless lessons about life through him. My most heart breaking one is: The only thing sadder than the expression “Life goes on” is that it is true.
Even though the void in my life is sometimes unbearable without him, I wouldn’t trade knowing him for anything. I consider myself one of the luckiest people in the world for having him in my life for over 17 years.
The other day as I was doing some internet shopping, I came across the Animal Rescue Site and was looking around and lo and behold there is was the perfect necklace for me. It is a little charm necklace and it has printed on it, Always in my heart. How could I pass that up? I couldn’t have put it better myself.
I have been trying to think of a clever way to end this, and cannot so I will say this: I know that I have more living to do before I leave this planet. My two biggest goals are: 1) Travel to Italy, the birthplace of my father and 2) Pet a big cat, preferably a black panther, but any would do.
It does bring me comfort that someday when the time comes for me to bid goodbye to earth, my buddy and I will be reunited and for that I am grateful. I also make a promise to him that someday I will honor him by writing a tribute to him that he truly deserves.
I believe that I will forever miss Bogart and the piece of my heart that holds him dear, is the most precious part.