Several years ago, a blind cat landed in the animal shelter with a litter of kittens. Nobody realized she was blind until her kittens were all adopted and she was on her own. Once the shelter head honchos found out, they said she had to be gone by the end of the day or she would be euthanized.
I was the one who noticed her vision issues, and I took her home that day. Here she is at the shelter just before she came home with me.
Helen fit right in at our house, and was always the sweetest little soul. Her fur was so plush she felt like a Gundt teddy bear, and she was never mean to anyone of any species. Once she got out in town and was missing for 3 weeks, and then suddenly appeared one night as though she had never been gone. Even in sillouette, I knew it was her, because her tail was almost touching the back of her head like it always did when she was beyond happy. I remember those tears of joy when I saw her distinctive shape.
Here she is the night of her return:
Fast forward a few years, a few lovely years of sweet Helenhood. Years of joy and light and utter sweetness.
Helen developed an acute case of pancreatitis, diagnosed this past Monday. Last night we had an intense little love-fest and I felt her telling me goodbye, in spite of the fact that she was kneading in pleasure, pushing her cheek against my hand, and meowing at me with no voice. She was herself--happy and sweet and affectionate until the end, and left us with grace and dignity this morning.
Goodbye, Helen. Thank you for coming into my life. I wasn't with you when you came into this world, but I was with you when you left. I am honored. I love you.
(The song we sing at critter funerals)
Fur and feather and scales and skin,
Different without but the same within,
Many of body but one the soul,
By all creatures are the gods made whole.