Our beloved Lily has left this world.
In one sense, it’s not quite accurate to call this a shock, since Lily’s been fighting for so long. Our girl was first diagnosed with GI lymphoma in 2007. Honest and well-informed people urged the rest of us not to expect much Lily-time yet to come…but Lily never listened to them (or to anyone other than Lily). She whupped cancer’s heinie, and proceeded to live and thrive – elegantly – for nearly four more years. Lil had lived in the hospital for the past year, at Denise’s side, making her own diagnoses and commentary on every case. So it wouldn’t quite be fair to feel cheated of time with Lily, since we’ve been granted so many miracles, so many second and third and thirtieth chances, so many reprieves in the last four years.
But I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t confess: it feels utterly unfair all the same. No matter what happened, a stubborn part of me felt that Lily would always prevail. After all, that was what Lily did best. So it was only reasonable for my foolish heart to trust that Lily would always bounce back, always live to have that mischevious glimmer in her green eyes one more day, always be here.
But to everything there is a season, so they tell me, and this was Lily’s season to leave this world for the next. Saturday morning, when her breathing became labored and her eyes pleaded for mercy, we knew it was time. With a strength of spirit I can’t begin to fathom, Lily’s dearest human friend and constant companion, vet tech Denise, gently let her go. Lily died as she lived, surrounded by people who adored her. I know that, in spirit, so many of you were there, as you have always been here for Lily.
I have to believe there’s a sense – more real than the five senses we normally use – in which Lily will always be here, always be alive. I believe our Lillers goes on – stronger and happier and more fully alive than she’s ever been. Saint someone-or-other famously wrote that, from heaven’s perspective, all of life on earth will seem like just one night at a bad hotel. I believe Lily’s “accomodations” and her true life have only just begun. In that sense, she has prevailed in the truest way.
But even knowing that Lily is now in the place of no more tears or death or pain, we grieve here on earth. Lily was, from her first moments at Tabby’s Place through her final breaths, a force to be reckoned with.
I will miss her affectionate rolling and “flirting” with all who would admire her. I will forever cherish Lil’s singular ability to make her point – and put an exclamation point on her many moods – with such iconic moves as punching a little old lady in the eye with her paw as the little old lady was writing out a check to help Lily.
Tabby’s Place lost the heart of a lioness – sweet, fiercely loving, never “tame” – when Lily left us this Saturday. I know that you grieve with us. I would ask that you would keep a special place in your prayers for Lily’s beloved Denise, and for wonder-volunteer Kate, who wrote the monthly updates for Lily’s sponsors and interpreted her daily comedies and tragedies with such grace, wit and love for almost four years. (Kate is unfortunately out of the country as I write this, or else I know she would have wanted to write her girl’s final tribute.)
As we remember our feisty marmalade angel together, I know that Lily’s passing echoes across the globe – literally. Lily was loved by countless earth angels who would never meet her in person, but who celebrated her triumphs and prayed through her struggles just the same. In her six years at Tabby’s Place, Lily knew the epic care, affection and love befitting a cat of her stature. For that, she – and we – will forever be grateful to you. She is with us still.