Forever loved: Crinkle Bob

Forever loved: Crinkle Bob

I don’t typically write eulogies for adopted cats.

But there was nothing typical about Crinkle Bob.

With a pumpkin head and a cauliflower ear, Crinkle Bob was a cornucopia of charm. But mud-bound in a public shelter, he found himself tangled in weeds.

Between FIV and a blinkered bladder, the field was bleak. Adopters prefer unbruised apples, and Crinkle Bob was the sort of cat who typically doesn’t get a long growing season.

But there was nothing typical about Crinkle Bob.

Over the airwaves of his secret C.B. radio, Crinkle commanded kindness. It arrived like the sun, in the form of two gentle gardeners who saved his life. Selflessly, they plowed the path to Tabby’s Place. And thus began the merriest farmer’s market since Eden.

In the hunger of a hopeless situation, typical creatures (cats, humans, senators, etc.) do not think of feeding others.

But there was nothing typical about Crinkle Bob.

The biggest-headed boy with the biggest heart arrived with overflowing baskets. He had so much to give, and only one life to give it all away. Perhaps that’s why he was always awake, aglow.

Whatever he had was yours.

On Doby, Crinkle Bob bestowed the zucchini of zest — a gentle jolt to jubilate, celebrate, marinate in the mad mercy of existence. Doby never smiled so wide until a jolly striped giant declared him “THE BEST.” Crinkle Bob gave his best friend permission to party.

For Humphrey, Crinkle Bob offered an endive of empathy — patience and acceptance, combined with exuberant grooming. (Crinkle Bob had many careers: gardener, barber, jester, chaplain.) Humphrey never breathed so easy until a cauliflower ear listened to his secrets. Crinkle Bob gave his best friend permission to feel safe.

Into my lap, Crinkle rolled a honeydew of hope — friendship that bent around my broken pieces, tenderness that tended to me in blight and drought. Crinkle Bob gave his best friend permission to bloom, bloom, bloom like the “I love you’s” that cauliflowered everywhere he went.

For every staff member, every volunteer, Crinkle rode in on an apple cart of awesomesauce — the kind of kindness that turns the tables on fear, and leaves you full as a watermelon. Crinkle Bob gave his best friends permission to love this bruised and bumpy world again, as if for the first time, as if for the last time.

But wait. That’s an awful lot of best friends. Isn’t “best friend” typically a singular role?

There was nothing typical about Crinkle Bob.

There was not a single Tabby’s Place staff member, FIV Suite feline, or visiting plumber who was left unCrinkled.

There was no one safe from Crinkle Bob’s best friendship.

And when the truest tabby leapt atop his tractor and spun his turntables, when the music rolled off the C.B. radio and the good times rolled like potatoes, it felt like there was nothing dangerous in the whole world.

Of course, this left us in perpetual peril of losing him. Even with a pocked immune system and a bladder in need of squeezing, Crinkle Bob was prime for picking. This is as much a testament to Tabby’s Place adopters, unafraid of Special Needs and special callings, as it is to our barreling best friend.

So when M. came, and Crinkle Bob’s eyes shone like dawn, we knew.

His love had landed.

All the goofy gourds of Tabby’s Place grieved and galumphed that day, happy and heartbroken and healed of hurts that only Crinkle Bob could unwrinkle. We would miss him, but he was bliss-bound. Hanging off the back of his hayride, he gave us one last gigantic grin.

Except it wasn’t.

Typically, adoption means “adieu to you, Tabby’s Place.”

But there was nothing typical about Crinkle Bob.

We couldn’t stop talking about him: “didn’t he change everything for Doby?” “Didn’t he change everything for you?”

We couldn’t stop marveling at him: “wasn’t he the kindest person you ever met?” “Don’t you feel happy every time you think of him, just to know he’s in this world?”

We couldn’t stop squealing like lambs over photos and updates from his adored adopter, the apple of his eye.

We couldn’t stop the terrible day from coming.

The turnips rolled off the tractor so fast, we could barely breathe. Crinkle Bob was filling with fluid. Crinkle Bob had presumptive FIP, the meanest disease. Crinkle Bob needed oxygen support.

With rare exceptions, cats typically do not survive this diagnosis.

But there was nothing typical about Crinkle Bob, so we cranked up the radio, harrowed the fields with hope, and believed he would cauliflower again. He had to. He was Crinkle Bob. He was our best friend.

He had the best of everything, dream doctors and prairies of prayer and weepy people of two species who would have thrown themselves in front of a tractor to save him.

But the cat who gave and gave and gave needed love’s last gift.

And so it was that the pumpkin-headed prince padded out of our sight, into the Great Garden.

And so it is that we are shattered but not destroyed, gasping but grateful, crushed but Crinkled.

Once you’ve been Crinkled, you will never be the same.

Never again can we see our troubles as a tundra where nothing good can grow.

Never again can we call ourselves friendless.

Never again can we get tangled by the typical little tyrannies, the bruises and the bafflements.

Death is typically assumed to mean “goodbye.” But there was nothing typical about Crinkle Bob.

He is still here, every time we give and give and give.

He is still gardening, every time we feed each other.

He is still our best friend.

Dear readers, please hold Crinkle Bob’s mama, and all who love him, close to your heart today.

Until we meet again, sweet best friend, I promise we’ll tend your garden.

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