by Susan Grout from Friday Harbor, WA
You never know the importance of your words and which of them just might be taken seriously. I learned this lesson from a good buddy of mine, a cat named, Boo Boo. Boo Boo was no ordinary cat. He was a huge one. I have a tradition of huge cats, but Boo Boo was the champ. He weighed in at a hardy 20lbs.
At nearly 18 years of age Boo Boo was still a magnificent grey tabby with regal bearing, Jack Nicholson eyes and an enormous head. But he had developed arthritis which bowed his front legs and made him trundle when he walked. He also began having seizures of increasing intensity and, sadly, lost his meow altogether. He took to purring loudly when he wanted to communicate, or would open his mouth and make a rasping sound – a sort of pantomime of a meow. He was my buddy and my shadow, following me as I gardened.
In his last year Boo Boo’s seizures increased, but he didn't seem to be suffering. He was always so affectionate I could not bear to put him down.
I kept waiting for a sign that enough was enough. His last seizure was in August out on our deck. After his whirling and jerking stopped, I knelt to comfort him, I pet him and said, "You've got to help me out here, buddy; I don't know what to do about you."
After a few minutes he seemed fine, shook himself off and went to drink out of the plant water. I went upstairs and hopped into the shower. While in the bathroom I heard a truck, but paid it no attention. My 25-year old son, Josh, had come racing home to gather some tools from our shop. In his haste he jumped out of the truck, left the motor running and bolted into the shop. Tools in
hand he leaped back into the truck, put it in gear, took off and immediately hit something. All I heard from above was "Oh my God, NO"! Boo Boo had laid down in front of the rear wheel on the passenger side of Josh's truck. Josh hadn’t seen him. Boo Boo was so badly injured, that Josh took off his tee shirt and carried the now struggling animal to the cab of his truck. He raced to the vet with the cat in his lap.
At the clinic, Josh gently gathered Boo Boo in his arms and ran into the building. He rushed in shirtless, his chest scratched and bleeding. Through tears Josh said to the receptionist, "You've got to save him, I ran over him." But it was too late. Boo Boo was dead.
The news crushed Josh. The entire staff gathered around him and the dead cat. They were so touched to see this young man weeping that they were also tearful.
Josh brought the cat home to me still wrapped in his bloody tee shirt. Boo Boo looked peaceful and, remarkably, was still warm to the touch. We laid him on the grass on the front lawn, both of us petting him and crying. I told Josh the whole story about Boo Boo's last seizure and how I asked him to "help me out because I didn't know what to do with him."
"Josh", I said "I'm convinced that he did help me out by lying under your truck."
We cried together and eulogized Boo Boo until my husband came home. That night we buried our buddy. Josh made a stout wooden cross that I can still see from my front window.
I miss him of course. But to this day I maintain that it wasn’t an accident.