For nearly a decade that sweet face looked into my own every morning and night. Once upon a time he was a bunny killer, having raided a warren and taken out a handful of the wee things and brought them as trophies. A rather sad conquest, true, but he was trying to remind me in his middle age that he still had the ability. And that without any claws. Or balls. It was that strong paw that took him from the shelter and into Sarge’s home – Sarge was looking for a dog; Mookie reached out and snatched at his arm as he passed. Sarge took him from the cage and the rest is history.
He was with me every night that Sarge was in the academy, at my side like a guardian, and the only company most days. He loved to lay in the crook of my arm every night and especially when it was cold outside. His elderly cat body grew thin and he would huddle against me whenever I was still for a moment. At night, I would shift with care, knowing he was there, only half sleeping sometimes for the irritation of being hemmed in by his slight self. If I grew tired of the cramped position and rolled a bit too far over, he would wend his way to the top of the bed and lay himself like a furry garland around my head.
Mookie loved to be outside though we permitted this only briefly of late as he exhibited that cat maneuver of running away from home when illness takes them. It is a strange character that I have noted in two other cats and could see growing in him. He slept more and more, craved food though it did little good…his system was shutting down and, being at least 20 years of age, it was only reasonable. In my heart I wanted to make a concerted farewell…I wanted to hug and kiss him – for, he would hug you, his paws around your neck…I wanted to feel his light weight sleeping in my arms again. Instead, I woke his sleeping self, kissed his chilly ear again and again, snuggled his wizened head to my cheek, and turned away…that paw, strength still in it, reached out quick and hard to snatch at my hand and stay my leaving. It brought a silent gasp and almost the tears came.
But I was being strong…strong for Sarge who had to see the duty through. Strong for Mookie who was with me for so many dark nights. Just a damned fool cat. Och, but I loved him so…farewell Maximus. You were a damned fine feline. Damned fine.