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Well, it’s time for me to finish up this little tail tale  about our Bob.  Parts 1 and 2 can be found here and here.  I suggest that if you have a laptop, then find a comfortable place to sit down, and take a box of tissues with you.  If a desk top, just get as comfy as you can, and make sure a tissue box is near by.  Just thinking about writing Part 3 already has me sobbing again.  Good thing tear drops don’t make the print on the monitor run.  Here goes.

Our wonderful, funny, quirky, smart, chirping Bobby died at just under four years of age.  We had always assumed we would have him with us for at least the minimum time, which had almost always with our other kitties been fifteen years.

We discovered about a year before he died that he had congestive heart failure.  We knew something was wrong enough to take him to the vet when we noticed that he suddenly put on a lot more weight than was consistent with how much he ate.  Plus, his face appeared swollen, and he seemed to pant a lot.  He was diagnosed with CHF, but we were given hope.  There were a number of medications he had to take daily, but he did very well with them, except he couldn’t run around as fast as he used to without getting winded.  But he otherwise started to look and act like our Bobby again.

It appeared over the next several months that he would do well on the meds, and have a good quality of life, so we breathed a little easier, and just continued to enjoy his presence  Bob and Gump got along quite well – especially if they ignored each other, and our dog Elvira was always tolerant of our little interlopers.  She’d look at them, yawn, and look at me and say (with her eyes): “Are you people nuts?”  But sometimes, I’d catch her giving them a quick nuzzle and a lick.  Whenever she saw that I had noticed, she would walk out of the room sheepishly, practically blushing!

So we were feeling that our zoo was doing well.  And actually they all were.  On this particular day, Ashley was at a conference where he was conducting a seminar on Worship Arts in a town about an hour away from us.  I was sitting on the bed after having a shower and getting ready for my day.  I heard a kind of “Yelp!” and then Bobby came quickly into the bedroom and with great difficulty jumped into my lap.  I said, “Are you OK, Buddy?”  And I leaned over to stroke him.  I started at his neck, and stroked him down the length of his body.  Apparently, I hit a spot on his back that made him scream again, he jumped off my lap, and crawled over to our closet and holed up in there, trembling.  The first thing I thought was that he had somehow broken the other hip, or another bone somewhere.  I managed to coax him out of the closet.  I set him down so I could call Ashley and tell him I had to take Bobby to the Vet – right away.  I called the vet to make sure they would be ready for us.

In the two minutes I had spent on the phone, Bobby had crawled out to the hallway, and then was frozen there.  He looked up at me, asking for help.  That’s when I knew I was facing the fact that he could die, and much sooner than we had thought.  I carefully lifted him up and took him to the car.  He trembled pitifully, chirped at me just a little, but in spite of the pain he was in, he never tried to bite or scratch me or anyone who had to work with him at the Vet’s office.

Our wonderful, caring and gentle Vet looked first at Bobby’s feet, and knew instantly what had happened.  CHF can make the circulatory system throw clots.  Owing to the apparent paralysis in his hind legs, and the fact that his back paw pads were a purplish-gray, he was pretty certain that Bobby had thrown a clot to his spine, which cut off all the circulation to his hind quarters.  He was in a great deal of pain.  After confirming the diagnosis, the Vet felt that letting Bobby go was probably the best thing for him, but we had to make the decision.  I asked him if he could keep Bobby relatively comfortable, so I could have time to speak to Ashley, and see if he could come home a bit early.  I telephoned Ashley again.  He readily agreed, and got in the car immediately, and met me at home, where I went to take care of the other critters before going out again.  Ashley and I knew we would have to let Bobby go, and the sooner the better for him.  We didn’t want this precious pet to suffer one moment longer than he had to.  We went directly to the Vet after calling his office to let them we were on the way.   We wanted to be with him during his final moments.

So we gently cuddled him in the surgery room, and talked to him of our love for him, and how much pleasure he had brought to all of us, and that we hoped we had been able to be the home for him that he believed it would be, when he first “attached” himself to the screen door, begging to be let in.  The Vet brought in the equipment he would need, and we set our Bob gently on the table.  Ashley and I got down on our knees so we could look Bobby in the eyes as the medication was given.  We kept looking into his eyes, and a few moments later, the light that had always gleamed from his eyes was gone.  We knew he was no longer with us.  Ashley and I clung to each other, both of us crying.  The hospital staff gathered around us, teared up themselves, and our Vet allowed us to hug him, and he hugged us back.  Somehow the death of Bobby hit us harder than most of our other losses.  He was supposed to be in the prime of life, he was supposed to be around for another ten or eleven years.  He hadn’t even made it all the way to four.  I was continuing my growing realization that there is nothing on earth that is for always, except the love of God; life has no standard plans available from which you can choose, and no life is born with guarantees or expiration dates.  Each day is enough for now – each moment to be lived fully.  Bob had certainly done that.

What a lot of living he packed into his brief few years!  He always managed, from the very beginning, to get what he wanted or needed.  He was not shy about playing, or with meeting new people, or speaking frequently in his own language of chirps and cheeps.  He was such a charmer, even so-called “cat haters” had to admit he was very special.  He definitely was.  He was a wonderful blessing to everyone, and even though abandoned or tossed out when he was very young, (he had plenty of reasons to hold a grudge with humans), he was unfailingly sweet and looking for a human’s affection, and he always offered it right back – always when we needed that unconditional love the most.

Looking back now on his final few moments, in my own mind at least, I think that he knew what was happening, and was willing to keep his eyes open as long as he could so he could prove to us that the light had always been within him, in his soul, and that when it disappeared, it was not that the light had gone out, it was because he took the light with him, to wherever he was going.

In retrospect, Ashley and the boys and I know he’s OK.  We still miss him.  He gave us so much, as a matter of fact, he gave us all he had to give, and it was, most profoundly, enough. . .

In Memoriam - Bob - 2001 - 2005 - a shining light in our lives