From the desk of Christine Mazurk
A Bittersweet Christmas
Four years ago today, 12/11, we lost Tequila, our second 18 year old cat. He passed away three months and three days after his brother, Taco. Our hearts were heavy as we faced our first Christmas without our little fur-buddies.
Our babies were gone. The house was empty, the absence of their paws padding across the floor creating an eerie echo of silence. My writing stalled as sadness engulfed me, my tears blurring the words on the computer screen. How could I write about 'happily ever after', when we'd suffered such loss?
During our drive to Atlanta to spend Christmas with our son and daughter-in-law, we reminisced about the many moves around the country and the move to the other side of the world, where they endured four months of quarantine. (Let me paint a picture: Our guys were indoor cats, comfortable getting bathed and brushed. They were protected and pampered, and there they were in an outdoor kennel with geckos and chickens running around just outside the fence. To say visiting them every chance we could broke our hearts is mild in comparison to actually sitting in the concrete bunkers with them, then having to leave them there. They spent Christmas in quarantine. It was a happy, happy day in March when we brought them home.) They were troopers, and I believe the adventures helped keep them young, gifting us with eighteen years of furry love.
So, my husband and I agreed that we would eventually get new kittens, but we both said we would wait at least a year, and we would let them find us.
We woke on Christmas Eve morning to a cold, wet, windy day. The kind of day to sit in front of the fire and sip hot chocolate, but we had to go outside. Mid-morning, my son, daughter-in-law, and I took their three huskies for a walk.
As we crossed the main street two blocks from their house, we heard this mewling sound, and when I stepped onto the sidewalk, this little ball of black fur came barreling out of the bushes and sat on my feet. Now remember, we had three huge dogs with us. This tiny solid black kitten, her eyes gooey with infection, two white whiskers among the black, just sat there.
My son ran home with the dogs, grabbed a box and a towel, and came to get us in his truck. Little did I know he ran into the house screaming something about a rabid cat, which is the only thing my husband heard from the living room just before he heard the truck pull out of the driveway. Do you think he worried when we didn't return for hours? Can you imagine what was going through his mind?
We drove around until we found an open shelter hoping the kitten had a chip to identify her owner. Nope. The shelter gave us a litter box and some food, and off we went. We stopped at the dog wash and gave her a bath, then headed home.
I walked into the living room carrying the freshly bathed baby wrapped in the towel, and my husband, not knowing where we'd gone or what had happened, shook his head and looked up at the ceiling. "Merry Christmas from Tequila and Taco," he said with a smile on his face.
Seems our feline guardian angels in heaven did not want us to wait a year. Thirteen days after Tequila left us, we received the gift of Tango. The best Christmas present ever! (Though she's shy and doesn't like to look at the camera.)
My husband made a saline solution to bathe her eyes, and she made herself comfortable in our laps, kneading biscuits before curling into a little cinnamon bun and purring with content. (The cutest thing is she mewls every night at dinner time, the same sound she made as she ran from the bushes.) She made the drive back to the beach house sleeping on my lap.
For the next few weekends, we went searching for a rescue kitten to keep Tango company, but none spoke to us. Our son was visiting on the third weekend, so we took him with us on our search. My hubby and I spotted a cute black female, but our son called us over to another cage. There sat this small short-haired male, solid black with the biggest lime-green eyes I'd ever seen. We watched as a volunteer placed another kitten in the cage next to him. You could see it tremble. He must have sensed the kitten's fear, because he reached through the cage and patted the little one, calming it. My heart tumbled and once the paperwork was signed, Samba came home with us.
Within minutes, Tango and Samba were running around the house, playing games. They've been inseparable since, even refusing to travel in separate carriers.
Christmas 2009 definitely ranks among my favorites, knowing Taco and Tequila are still with us in spirit. That Tango picked Tequila's favorite toy, a little chicken, as her own confirms the mystical happenings of the universe. The gift they gave with love.
I sometimes wonder when they chase air, if they aren't playing with their brothers, Taco and Tequila?!
Tango and Samba in 2013:
Do you have a holiday that stands out in your heart? We'd love to hear about it. Feel free to share in the comment section.
Wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.