There are goodbyes so long in coming, we come to expect that they will never come.
When they come, they crash through us, a tsunami of tears that tear us to ribbons.
Join the human team here any time between 2006 – 2018, and you’d quickly be advised about “Wacky” Jackie Rosenberg. She was as beautiful as a diamond, and twice as cutting. She would wrap her wondrous self around your ankles, only to eat you alive.
SHE’D EAT YOU ALIVE.
And then she’d purr, and prance, and so thoroughly pulverize your emotions that you couldn’t help but surrender to love.
And then she’d punch you in the face, claws out.
Hands raised: 0.
Jackie’s command: unfailing.
Jackie was always in charge at Tabby’s Place, and as age crept on, so did pounds that rendered her large as well. She enjoyed a stint as a Lobby cat, cut short by her infuriating skills at scaling every surface to snarf contraband snacks. So it was on to the Weight Management Suite, and then, post-diabetes, her final destination: the Lounge.
More specifically, the Chaise Lounge. Jackie’s Couch. (More on that in a moment.) It was a throne befitting a queen, though Jax was always more valkyrie than Victoria.
From the food bowl to her ladylike-yet-leathery bed, Jackie had a good life Lounge-side. She presided over feline diabetics and human lunchers and more collective gossip than we’ll ever care to imagine. She presided over ill-advised foes like diabetes and eyeball ulcers and mammary cancer, all of which bit off more than they could chew when they bit into our Biter In Chief.
Always, she presided. Reigned. Ruled. Rejoiced.
Until the day came to let go.
Jackie, the cat who waged war and wonder at Tabby’s Place longer than any other, died just hours after fellow wise warrior, masterful Maverick, deeply good soul John McCain. Both experts at exceeding expectations, better and truer and braver than most of their generation, they left us full of years but greedy for more.
We need their kind now more than ever.
No one feels this loss more keenly than Jackie’s beloved Nikki, correspondent for Jackie’s Special Needs sponsors for over six years, and confidante to the cat who gave love and her lashings in equal measure. Nikki graciously accepted my request that she share her own tribute to Jackie:
“This is hard for me. It’s hard because I’m writing through the tears, but also because I’m writing to an audience who might be meeting Jackie for the first time after her death. This is like trying to explain Baked Alaska to someone who has never had it. Jackie had a tough exterior, but deep down, I think she really did love us back.
“I was Jackie’s Special Needs correspondent over the years, meaning I wrote updates for her sponsors each month. When you are a cat’s correspondent, you form a special bond with that cat. Jackie and I were no different. Each month, I would spend hours with her and put these visits into words for her sponsors, spilling my heart out. We traveled the journey of Jackie’s life together.
“I first met Jackie almost 10 years ago, when I started volunteering at Tabby’s Place. At the time, she was in Suite B and a force to be reckoned with! I remember our first meeting. Jackie was adorable. She was rubbing my legs, doing figure eights around them, purring. I smiled and reached down to pet her. No sooner had I done so when wham! She attacked with paws of fury! I was thoroughly confused and asked a staff member, only to be told, ‘oh, that’s Wacky Jackie!’
“I think Jackie is one of the only cats to have lived in almost every Suite at Tabby’s Place — after all, she was our longest-term resident. Jackie came to us from a shelter when she was only about 4 years old. This had saved her from being euthanized. She stayed with us for 12 years. At one point, a kind person donated an adorable kitty chaise lounge. Jackie loved it so much that we moved it with her from Suite to Suite. Most days, she could be found lounging in the chaise.
“Over the years, I got to know Jackie pretty well. I was there with her through her long battle with bilateral mammary cancer, and I saw her stay the tough, feisty girl we all loved! This past Friday, when I spent time with her, it was different. She heard my voice and came towards me. She let me pet her white body. She purred. She let me kiss her, and she frantically rubbed her face all over mine. I burst into tears. I knew my girl was saying goodbye.
Nikki, Jackie loved you beyond measure.
None so great as Jackie can ever truly leave. In one sense, our sense that she Could Not Die was spot-on; Jackie is eternally etched into our spirits. We are spunkier, a little scarred-up and so much sweeter for having loved and been loved by one Wacky Jackie Rosenberg.
Jackie left us with one last feat of living, after-living poetry. Five hours after Jackie’s death, her younger doppelganger, Leah, the bite-y white cat with the smooshed-in nose who camefrom the very same shelter, was put on hold to be adopted. Endings yield to beginnings in endless song at Tabby’s Place, and woe to those who don’t pick up the tune and let it sing us home.
Reign on, Jackie. Rule. Rejoice. We’ll see you in the life without end.