It was a gray spring afternoon. We received a call from Evan's friend who said that she wanted us over to meet the cat she needed to give away. She had three cats and had to downsize. Robin and I reached this point after much deliberation and careful planning. If we were going to get a cat, we needed to factor in vet bills, food, toys, and anything else that might come up. We had to make sure she was cared for if we went out of town. I was working full-time, but would go back to college in the fall, during which time Robin and I both would be students until he graduated a year later. It was a lot to consider, but we knew we were ready.
The cats were all sitting on her bed. She pointed out Luna, who perked up when she heard her name. Out of the three, I couldn't believe Luna was the one she wanted to give away. Her reason was that she had the other two first, but Luna was so beautiful and vocal. She chirped a few times, said "hi" to the soon-to-be owners, and generally acted like a normal cat. I pet her luxurious coat and scratched her face. Her loveliness continued to unfold as I met her ice blue eyes, her little pink nose, and her enormous feet. Unlike most polydactyl cats, she had an extra toe on all four paws. Robin and I chatted for a time and on the car ride home, realized that Luna was going to be our kitty.
Her first few days were, predictably, cautious. After all, she was in a new place with new smells, people, and sights. She didn't want to be held, at least for very long, and was reticent to show any of us very much affection. One of her immediate comforts came in the form of a majestic palm we had in a corner of the living room. Placing one paw on the adjacent wall for balance, she arched up and snagged a frond in her mouth, nearly pulling the entire pot over as she munched on the delicious greenery. Robin hollered, I laughed, and no matter what we tried to do with the plant, Luna would get to it. It was this first glimpse of her determined mindset that let us know we weren't dealing with some stupid cat. Our cat was intelligent, resourceful, and could get what she wanted.
A month later, and in the same apartment, rainy spring clouds were giving way to the first sunny warmth of the season. We were on the second floor and had a small balcony attached to the living room. Luna positioned herself directly in front of the screen door to lay belly-up in the beaming sunshine. She purred and stretched as we pet her, now content with her new surroundings and owners. On one such day, we opened the sliding glass door to let the outside in. Luna sat up and wanted out. We debated what could happen if she had a full-on melt down and tried to escape. Measuring the distance between gaps of the fence on the balcony and factoring in Luna's girth, we realized that even if she wanted to, she couldn't slither underneath. Even so, we accompanied her outside. She took a couple timid steps out, sniffed the air, and went immediately for a drain cap, located in the center of the balcony. She stared at it. She stared some more. We pet her, asked what she was doing, but she couldn't be bothered. We eventually left her to stare as long as she wanted. From that point forward, it was referred to as Luna's Drain, and we always knew what she wanted if she meowed from inside the glass door on a nice day. With our roommate, we all decided for a change of venue and trade up to a larger apartment, located in the same complex. We had a beautiful corner unit but unfortunately for Luna, one that did not come with an outside drain. I tried to interest her in the bathtub drain, but I should have realized how different they were. Though not scared of bathtubs, Luna wasn't into bathtub drains thank you very much.
Robin's dad is a man of many talents, and he offered to build Luna her very first kitty tower. We enthusiastically said yes, and a couple weeks later, he knocked at the door with the newly built kitty condo. We helped him carry it upstairs and set it outside our apartment door. In typical Luna fashion, she waited by the door when we left, and opened it to see her sitting there. She caught a glimpse of the tower, chirped excitedly, and immediately jumped into it. "Mine!," she clearly said as she purred, scratched, and rubbed her new tower. We brought it inside and put it in the living room, from the top of which Luna could survey her domain, sleep, and stretch over the side.
Robin graduated college and got a great full-time job. We knew it was time to move out on our own, so we amicably parted ways with our roommate. After helping E & C move out of their duplex, we were very interested in the other side that was becoming available. After a few chats with the owners, we were in and settled. By this point, Luna had moved four times, so she adjusted quickly. She enjoyed the new space, as there was ample room to run and play. More than the space, however, was a certain variety of tree located just outside our back door. The sliding door in the duplex opened onto a small porch, covered by two large Japanese Maples. In the fall, they loosed their canopy onto the ground which became littered with brightly colored foliage. Luna was beside herself. She sat in front of the glass and pressed her nose to it. Her tail flicked quickly from side to side as her gaze widened. Soon we heard her chattering... at the leaves. I asked her what was going on. She quickly met my gaze and made a sound I had never before heard. It was somewhere in between a chirp, a click, and a growl. She kept doing it as her stare returned to the leaves. She wanted them. She wanted them bad. Knowing by now that Luna was not the type to run if she got outside, we opened the door. She darted out and became even more excited. She chirped and clicked and purred and didn't know what to do. She had found herself the Ultimate Treasure, she was crazed with joy and looked up at me as if for some kind of clue. "What the hell NOW? What do I do with all of it??," she pleaded. I crouched down, pointed to a single dried leaf and said, "Luna! Look! This one!" She bolted over, shoved my hand out of the way, and devoured the leaf in pure, ecstatic bliss. A few chomps later, she looked up again for guidance. "Here!," I exclaimed as I pointed to another. She pounced on it and did the same thing. We continued this game for quite awhile, with each crunched leaf becoming a more amusing and adorable experience. When it was time to go back inside, Luna could not be stopped. She struggled against me like a druggie being pulled away from its stash. Once inside, she turned right around and pressed her nose against the glass. Fortunately for her, the amount of leaves lasted well into the following spring, when we decided it was finally time to clear off the deck for the warm weather.
It was in the duplex that we discovered Luna's favorite food. Until this point, Luna had been a very polite kitty when we were eating. Occasionally she would meow and show interest, but would give it a rest if we told her no. That is, until Eric was eating a slice of the most delicious pizza the world has ever known. I don't remember what kind it was, or even where it was from. What I do remember, vividly, is Eric in mid-bite and Luna jumping directly onto his chest and pawing at his pizza. "Luna!," Robin yelled, but the most she did was stop pawing. She sat on Eric's lap and waited for another chance. She didn't get one as Robin pulled her onto the floor, but from that point on if we had pizza, Luna would go out of her way to get some.
When we purchased our first home, Luna again did well with the move. This was her biggest house yet; it included a long stretch of carpet from the end of the hallway, across the living room. One night, we had Evan over for drinks and merriment. We were watching TV when we heard a loud knocking on the screen door. BANG! BANG! BANG! It startled us and we wondered who it could have been. I opened the door and there sat Luna, her paws dirty and cold with a terrified look on her face. She leaped into the house and ran for cover. We didn't know exactly when she made it outside or how long she had been out there, but it couldn't have been very long. What we did know was that Luna had decided, once and for all, that outside was definitely not her favorite. From then on, the most she would try to do was bolt onto our front landing and sniff around.
At the end of each day, all she wanted to do was curl up on my chest and purr herself to sleep. I could be upset, happy, anxious, timid, embarrassed, vulnerable, but none of that mattered to her. When I was sick, she was so excited to spend all day resting with me. When I cried, she would sit on my lap and knead my legs until I felt better. She would excitedly chirp in the morning with half-open blinking eyes as I fed her breakfast. She greeted me at the door each evening. What I miss most about Luna, more than anything else, is her unique personality. She was so good in so many ways, but it's her unending sweetness and warmth I miss terribly. Every pet owner will tell you they have the best animal. Call it hyperbole if you like, but we really did have the best cat ever. Luna was like no cat we've ever known, both in appearance and personality.
I still listen for her. I glance down as I open doors and am mindful of the space around me. If I hear a creak, my head darts in the direction of the sound and waits for Luna to come trotting around a corner. Every time I come home now, I have to whisper, "She isn't here," to remind myself of the bitter fact. I sometimes take breaks at work just to go and cry. I think that overall I'm doing as well as I can, but this truly is the worst loss I have experienced in my life.
When I reflect on our shared lives, I refuse to let Luna slip into the void. She was not simply some animal that we took care of. She was a member of our family; a being with which we shared a very close bond. Like any being that has passed and had a deep connection with you, the loss is devastating. While she is no longer here physically, her memory will live on as long as I do. In that time, I can allow her wonderful life to influence mine. She taught me that being sweet and caring go a long way to improve another person's mood. She taught me to be myself, an independent, and not just shower someone with affection because they're there. She taught me not to put up with those who don't understand and respect you. She taught me that taking a nap in the sun is the best possible activity on a lazy Saturday afternoon.
I love you so much, my little Luna. Rest peacefully.
Until our souls meet again...