The day I brought Luthien home with us, she was a tiny kitten, just old enough to be separated from her mother (on second thought, she might not have been old enough after all – she tried to nurse from Beren, her new buddy kitty, for months). She was terrified the whole thirty minutes it took us to get home, and clung to me, crying constantly. It’s a tough job to drive an 11-passenger van and comfort a kitten at the same time!
It was actually Jonathan who had picked out Luthien from her litter of kittens. She had a lovely black coat with unique markings. She had almost a swirl pattern on her sides, and Jonathan fell for her right away. It’s ironic, given that he chose her, that I became her special friend…
It was probably 24 hours after she came home with us that Luth first came out of her hiding place in a box lined with an old blanket. Forget the fancy cat bed we had bought – it still hasn’t been used! She finally started venturing out, but she was terrified of Beren, our new boy kitty from another litter. At long last, they made friends, and were best buddies until this summer, when Luthien had the gall to have kittens (with another male cat, to add insult to injury, hehe).
This fall/winter, Luthien has taken to curling up in my office chair. Always mine. I am in the habit of automatically sitting in Jonathan’s office chair unless he’s home, because I don’t like to disturb her. In the evening, when J and I are both in the office, her favorite place to be is on my chest/belly (yes, yes, I lounge at the keyboard…). She’ll sit in J’s lap if I put her there so I can get up, but as soon as I begin to sit back down, she’s on her way over again. There have been times when J is holding her that she’s obviously tense… and all it’s taken is me touching her for her to completely relax. She’s such a wonderfully cuddly cat, and she’s lightened my heart many a time when it was heavy.
I used present tense a lot in that last paragraph, because it’s all so recent…
But this morning, I loaded up the Blessings to go to the store, pulled out to the end of the driveway…
and there on the road in front of me was Luthien’s body.
I somehow very calmly (at least externally) backed the van up and pulled back into my usual parking spot, on the other side of the house, facing away from the road. I told the kids I had to take care of something before we left, and as I headed up the back steps, the tears began to fall.
I knew I HAD to get her body off the road. The thought of her being hit any more was unbearable. So I stumbled up the attic steps, sobbing, to look for a blanket I could take to wrap her in. I ended up with an old flannel sheet, folded up into the size of a small blanket. I now think, why not a towel? But a towel would have been too rough, not soft enough for the body of my sweet kitty friend.
Our driveway comes out on at the top of a hill. A gentle enough slope that you can easily see if a car is coming when you’re pulling out of the driveway, but folks coming from the south along our road can’t really see the top of the hill until they get to it. So getting Luthien’s body was going to be tricky, as she was on that side of the road.
My first attempt to get her was an abject failure. I got out beside her and burst into even stronger weeping, because I couldn’t bring myself to pick up her body. I ran back across the road and called Jonathan, sobbing so hard that he could hardly understand me. The thought of staying out in the road all day, standing guard over her body, seemed more feasible to me than picking her up. I’ve never been good with dead bodies (even mice – I’d rather have them alive than have to dispose of their bodies). And here was my precious cat, with (pardon me here) her eye knocked out of her head, in the middle of the road, and I felt completely helpless to move her.
Jonathan suggested that I get a box to scoop her body into, and that probably saved me. I went and found a big shoebox, and managed to get her wrapped up in the sheet in the box. I took the box out to the garage (it’s a freezing cold day), then came back into the house and collapsed into tears again. Thankfully, my Blessings were safely buckled up in the nice warm van, and I could take the time I needed to try to gather myself together.
With Lothar’s help on IM, I managed to stop sobbing and hyperventilating. When I stopped shaking so hard and felt like I was able to drive, I went ahead and took the Blessings to the store. I didn’t tell them what happened until after we’d gotten home, and they took it surprisingly well. Maybe that’s because Luthien was a bit stand-off-ish with everyone but me, lol. She was especially *my* cat. Fitting, I suppose, as we shared a name.
I hadn’t had a cat since I was a little girl, and had never had an inside cat at all until Beren and Luthien came along. I’d never known that a purring, cuddling mass of fur could take such a place in the human heart.
But she did.
And she’s gone.
And my heart hurts.