We were just talking about Bonnie.
We were just saying, “She looks good! I mean, she looks terrible, but she still looks good. Bright eyes, bright spark, still eating, still beautiful.”
Always beautiful. Always loved.
But, as of this afternoon, no longer within our grasp.
We’d been spoiled with Bonnie, really. We had no business expecting her to keep living, no business expecting a terminal diagnosis to trail off, no business taking her for granted.
But that’s what you do when life keeps winning, keeps beating back the darkness, keeps giving the finger to death.
At least, it’s what we did.
It’s not that we were blind to the evidence, any more than anyone with any eyes at all can ignore a cat losing weight and losing light and losing her tender hold on toughness. But even as Bonnie’s eyes sunk back and her zest grew mild, she remained bound and determined. A girl’s gotta have goals, and Bonnie hurled all her remaining strength into watching the Community Room door.
There was food on the other side of the door, yes.
There were people — interesting, weird, mysterious people — out there, too.
But that’s not why Bonnie beamed her lasers through the door.
Bonnie had no fewer than 40,000 dishes of new, old, and semi-aged wet food within three feet of her person.
Bonnie had no fewer than 40,000 daily opportunities to enter and exit the Community Room and Lobby.
But still Bonnie stared.
I can’t give you the definitive answer, any more than any human can enter the mind of any cat. But I can tell you that Bonnie saw something, and the little she saw made her yearn for more.
Beyond the door.
But first we have to feel today.
No loss is okay or easy, but some strike the soul. That’s certainly the case with Bonnie. Whether being pilled or prodded or treated or nebulized, she was unfailingly lovely: “a sweet patient,” Dr. C murmured today, “a dignified patient.”
As frail as Bonnie’s been in the waning months of her fight, today was different. Rather than standing by her door, she lay on her side much of the morning, sighing, scratching at the air when we scratched her tummy. Her breath was labored, her eyes slits.
Still she stared.
And as we gently let her go, surrounded by all the love in all our guts and heads and hearts, I believe her faith became sight.
I can’t help but think of St. Augustine here. (Bear with me.) In City of God, Augie contrasts two different kinds of death. There’s the death that separates body from soul, the kind we usually think of. It’s a real loss, a wrenching loss, the kind of loss that kills days like today with weight and woe.
It’s a theft, a horror, this death.
But it’s not ultimate.
Although Augustine didn’t deal in feline matters, I hope he’d agree that the ultimate sort of goodbye, the second death, can’t touch cats. But with or without the Bishop of Hippo’s assent, I believe all the way down to the bottom that the cat soul, the innocent soul, the soul of Bonnie, cannot, will not die. At no moment, in life or death, does the breath of God leave the cat He made and loves and holds beyond the grave. In the way that matters most, though it barely blunts our pain today, Bonnie lives yet.
And in the way that will ultimately, triumphantly, totally trump our tears, Bonnie will live deathless again, body raised and soul splendorous.
Both deaths will die.
Bonnie sees it even now.
We do not grieve as those without hope.
Thank you for loving, grieving, and hoping with us, Felis Catus family.