The alarm sounded at 5 AM, waking me up so I could catch an early flight to Denver. I
had a big business meeting that I had been excited about for a while; it was finally here! I hadn’t slept particularly well, more like a kid on Christmas Eve, so when my cat jumped up on the bed to cuddle, I was disappointed he hadn’t come in earlier. As a matter of fact, he had neglected sleeping with us for the last few nights, which was a little odd. I really didn’t want to get up with my cat’s welcomed arrival, so I curled up for a few minutes and stroked Taffy’s soft caramel fur and listened to his loud purring. It was particularly loud that morning and seemed to vibrate throughout his body. I sleepily smiled at him then dashed into the shower to get ready to go. Taffy stayed on my bed, happy to nestle into the warmed up comforter.
After my husband dropped me off at the airport, he continued on to work. Later on that day, we would exchange small talk and had agreed to a call when he got home. Sure enough at about 6 PM, he was walking from the car to the house and was on the cell phone with me. “I wonder if Taffy misses you and will be glad to see me?” he mused. I assured him he would be met at the door with a worthy welcome and the usual happy, meowed greetings. He walked into the house, but no Taffy in attendance, so he called for Taffy. At first, there was no response. We both hoped he hadn’t got himself shut up in the coat closet (again). As Alton proceeded up the stairs, we both begun to hear some very scary and loud meows. There was Taffy on the bed, nearly screaming in pain, unable to
move his back legs.
We hung up the phone and Alton sprung into action—time was of the essence. I googled away hoping to find a simple answer to Taffy’s paralysis and pain and prayed for my sweet cat who was in obvious pain. Within minutes, Alton called back and was off to a nearby emergency pet clinic to have poor Taffy examined.
The news wasn’t good. 8 year-old Taffy had suffered a stroke and had a blood clot. His heart was enlarged indicating heart failure. Taffy was dying. The doctor’s advice was to put him down. Within minutes, Taffy’s suffering ended and he was at peace. I sat in my hotel room and cried my heart out. I never got to say good-bye to my treasured pet. Those few minutes of cuddling that morning meant the world to me and I thought about all the joy that sweet cat had brought to my life and so many others, even the non-cat people who loved him. I will say again and again to anyone who asks me about my Taffy, he was a great cat. He really was.
But in the midst of all of this, all that is life, and especially in this troubled world and crippled culture, this small death of an 8 year old cat has significant meaning to me. Taffy’s death taught me how quickly life changes and can be completely different in just a split second. My dear kitty was fine that morning, but dead that night without any warning to speak of. Those special moments in the early hours of the Monday he died, will long be remembered and etched into my memory. I’m thankful I took those few minutes to give him my attention, to smile at him and scratch him behind the ears.
Taffy’s death vividly taught me how important it is for us to remember to stop what we’re doing forjust a moment so we can brighten someone’s day and touch their heart. Taking the time to acknowledge another, whether its a person we don’t know in the grocery store, a loved one at home or a beloved pet, keeps us from regret later and fills our hearts and imprints our souls. These are the tender moments we can cherish and play over and over again in our hearts and minds forever.