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Memories of Harley (Boo)
When Boo danced into my life eight years ago, abandoned and left almost on my doorstep, I thought, just what I need -- another kitten/cat. I didn't realize then what a gift I was given. But he got to me right from the start, and a year later, when Squeek passed away, he was there to comfort me, seeking me out for kneading and his special trill-purr. Although I love all my cats, he became my favorite, my best comfort, and I was his. Every night when I went to bed he would spend a few minutes with me so he could lick my hands, bump my head, and I could tell him that he was the best, most special, beautiful Boo ever. He was always elegant and confident, and I was honored that he chose me to care for him.

Boo became ill over a year ago with a nervous compulsion that caused him to lick himself excessively. After many rounds of antibiotics and cortisone, the problem became so severe that our vet had to operate to remove the damaged skin. He developed diabetes and needed insulin shots twice a day. Despite bigger and bigger e-collars, the destructive licking didn't stop, and Boo somehow could reach his stomach and leg. He could no longer take cortisone. I finally realized there was nothing more I or the vets could do, and on November 16 I took Boo to our vet to be euthanized. Boo, please forgive me for not being able to see it through and be with you at the end. You deserved better. I miss you so much. I will always love you, but with the Grace of God we will be with each other again. Love you Boo.

12/3 Now and then I catch you out of the corner of my eye, and I dream about you.

12/17 Boo, we have a new addition to the family: a year-and-four-months-old black (with a little white on his tummy) kitty named Kelly. He came from the Cat Adoption Team shelter in Sherwood, and he looks so much like you that I sometimes think it is you (not his face -- you had such a beautiful, long nose and aristocratic face). But he's a sweetie, and adapting very well to his new home, including Sasha and Keno.

Misty is probably going to join you soon. Her kidneys are giving out on her, and there's not much we can do except keep her comfortable. When that time comes, please welcome her and tell her how much I love you both.

1/21/06 Boo, we have Misha now. Damien brought him over; he's five months old and is so, so sweet. He's completely black (like you) and looks like he will have the same elegant face. But instead of your beautiful yellow eyes, his are almost brown.

2/8/06 Boo and Misty, you are together now, along with Thuban and Squeek. Boo, I hope you greeted Miz and let her wash your head. My poor sweet girl, you didn't make it to 16, but you were so uncomfortable and sick as your kidneys shut down. I'm so grateful I was able to stay with you and try to comfort you as you left. I hope you asked Boo to forgive me for not having the courage to stay with him. I know better now. Miz, I'm sure Thuban will be very happy to see you; he has been gone over ten years and has missed you. I'm sure Squeek will be happy to see you, too; maybe he'll do his patented "flop and swim" for you.

4-9-06 My little ones--Boo, Miz, Thuban, Squeek, it's been awhile since I visited you. I think about you a lot. I decided not to volunteer at C.A.T. right now, since I have to work 6 days a week. When the spring shipping season is over, and things calm down a bit, I hope to get started with volunteering. In the meantime, I'm making donations to C.A.T. and will have plaques for each of you at the shelter. Thuban and Squeek -- your names are already listed at the Willamette Humane Society in Salem, so I'm starting with Boo and Miz at C.A.T.

6-10-06 Boo, lately I've caught myself calling Misha by your name. I guess that's a measure of how much I miss you and treasure you, and how much he reminds me of you. He's such a sweet, good natured kitten. He does just what you used to -- comes in the living room, looks at me as if he suddenly realized I'm exactly what he's looking for, meows his croaky meow (which sounds just like a baby goat or a lamb bleating), jumps on my lap, bumps my head a few times, turns around once or twice, then flops down on me and purrs up a storm. It's like your spirit was caught in him, almost as if you're here again. But as sweet as he is, I still wish I had my little, my bebe, my Boo. Love you Boo. I miss you.

11/16/06 A year ago today I had my Boo euthanized. He was only eight years old. I came home from work, prepared his insulin shot, and he hid from me--he'd never done that before. I had to drag him out from under the bed. I could see that he'd somehow reached his leg and licked it to the point it was bleeding, despite the dog-sized e-collar. I gave up. When I took him to the vet to have him put to sleep, I thought only about how it affected me. The rational part of me said it had to be done, the cat is suffering and I can't fix it. The coward part of me said do it after I leave --I can't watch. I thought I would cry too much and embarass myself in front of the vet and my son. Boo was frightened during the examination; he shivered and tucked his head into my elbow whenever he could. I told the vet I couldn't stay, I was too upset, and I turned and left him there, scared and alone. He died. I wasn't there to comfort him. I will think about how scared and alone he was for the rest of my life. Boo, I remember how, after I went to bed, you'd come in and flop next to me and kneed my arm, rub the side of your face on my hand, lick my hand, and let me pet you and tell you that you were my best Boo, the most wonderful, the most special, the sweetest Boo there ever was. Then your eyes would close and you'd go to sleep.

Your ashes are in their box on my dresser, with your old green collar and the heart-shaped tag. As you sleep now, Boo, will you remember me and that I love you so much?

11-16-07 It's been two years today, Boo. I still miss you very much and wish you were here. Enough time has gone by that most of the time I can think of you as you were before you got sick, and be so glad for the time I had with you. But still, even though I love and cherish all of our cats, each in their own way, after two years, none, not even Misha, can take your place with me. I still feel you bumping my forehead, kneading my arm, and purring... Rest you gentle, Boo.

11-26-08 Boo, you know by now we lost Keno on August 8. He was almost 13, and died at home. Al knew he was close to the end, and slept downstairs the night before to be near him. I found Keno the next morning, and took him to the vet's to be cremated. I miss him very much. We also lost Damien's cat, Hobbs (who knows how old 15? 16?) on August 29. I was with him at the vet's office when he was put to sleep. I hope both are with you. It's been over three years, and most of the hurt of your passing is gone, unless I think about how I failed to be with you at the end. You deserved so much better. I promised, after you were gone, that I would never again let one of my pets go unless I was there.

12-19-08 I send my messages to Boo, because he represents all of my lost pets. But this one is for Radar, 15 and a half years old at death (12-10-08), the last of my Salem cats. Dar, I don't know what happened to you, why you got so sick, and neither does Dr. Michele. Despite all the tests, I guess age caught up with you and it was just time. You were such a sweet, gentle, friendly, giant cat with the most beautiful emerald green eyes of any cat I'd ever seen. I thought you'd live forever (or at least 17, 18, or more). At any rate, a few more years. Sometimes I look towards the couch and I see you there, hear your meow-purr greeting. We used to carry on cat conversations--you would meow to me, I would answer you, you'd respond, etc. We'd go on for minutes, back and forth. Didn't know what I was saying, but you did. About five weeks ago you crawled under the covers while I was in bed watching TV; you hadn't done that in a long time, but this time you didn't purr very much. And you stayed there for a long time. Guess that should have told me something. I have your ashes and collar in the box next to Boo. We miss you very much. You've seen me through a lot -- Long May You Run, Dar.

4-16-09 To all my lost pets--Thuban, Squeek, Boo, Misty, Keno, Radar: We adopted two new kitten/cats into the family on March 27--Kyle (age 8 mos) and Toby (age 7 mos). We miss all of you very much, but we're glad we can move on and have the resources to offer our home to other cats. Kyle and Toby are such great guys--I hope they will be with us a long time. Take care all.

11-19-09 Boo: It's been four years since you've been gone. Time has done what it's supposed to, I guess, and I don't miss you as much as I did. But the guilt of leaving you at the vet's office, alone and scared, will never go away. I'll never do that again. I've been feeding & getting vet care for some of the stray cats in the neighborhood. Al, bless his heart, built two shelters for them alongside the garage. It's never enough, but as long as I don't quit trying to make their lives just a little bit better, God won't either.

9-13-14 Boo: Hard to believe it's been almost another 4 years since my last visit here. Do you remember Sasha? Australian Shepherd mix, the dog every cat likes. He was about six when you died. He's now almost 13 and a half, and in heart failure, which is about par for the course for a dog of his age and size. Last April the vet specialist gave him six months, and he's declining pretty much on schedule. I learned a lot from your death, and I'm determined that Sasha's last months/weeks/days will be as easy and meaningful as possible, and I won't turn away from my responsibility. I hope (and don't hope) that one morning I will find him passed away like Keno.

11-4-14 Boo: Alice joined you & the others on October 16. She was only 14--we thought she'd live to at least 18 or 20, but died from kidney failure. Didn't see it coming at all, but I've been distracted by Molly and Kyle and Sasha, and it's possible she was sick longer than I thought. I miss her very much, especially at night. She was the sweetest, most affectionate cat I've ever known. Always next to me at night, kneading my arm or neck(and trying to pull my face down so she could lick it!), or on my side, or at my feet. Always wanted to be on my shoulder, liked to be carried around. When I go to bed now, I put the feather pillow over to the side, and I imagine that she is there, doing her washing first, then kind of sneaking her paws in so she can hold my face and lick me. Now Misha(9 years old!!), bless his heart, has kind of taken over and stays next to my head at night, kneading my arm and purring. I love you, Alice.

1-6-15 Now Sasha is gone. He had a very bad weekend, and didn't pass away during the night as I hoped, and on Monday morning we had to carry him on a sheet to the car and into the vet's office. Our vet is a wonderful person, but a vet's office is still a vet's office, and Sasha was so scared. Then we came home and he wasn't there. Instead a dark hole, with a lot of sharp edges made of all those things about Sasha that are no more. Every time I look in the kitchen where he used to sleep (usually in the way, but we got used to that), he's not there anymore. Or in the dining room, or the living room, or the hall. Only have to fill one food bowl now instead of two. No more pills wrapped in bread and the chewable meds he loved. No more medications at all on the counter. No more gallops down the hallway to go outside, Loki barking at his side, no ball tug-of-war with her. No more barks (hoarser as time went by) to get us to take him out to the front yard, no more walks around the front yard and up the street a ways. No more the dog that almost every cat that he ever met (and there were a lot) trusted, liked and/or loved. And no more head on my knee with big blue and brown eyes closing as I petted his head or kneaded his neck and shoulders. Thirteen years we had you, and now a hole in our lives that will be there for a long time.

There is something, not exactly a comfort, or solace, or anything like that, just a memory triggered by a song. Sasha was young, two or three years old, got away from us and went running down the street, we're chasing after him and yelling at him to come back. Looking over his shoulder, tongue hanging out, almost grinning at us. Only two or three times in his life did he run like that. In a song called Nowhere Warm are the lines "...yes I know you're on the road. And I'm sure you're faster than before. Yes, I know you're somewhere on the road." And I like to think that's what and where he is now, a young dog, running down that road.

2-18-15 Molly is now with all of you. Third pet in such a short time. Quiet, tiny little black and white cat, no one knows how old she was, but sick most of the year-and-a-half we had her. I so wish we could have done more for her. Al was so devoted to her, broke his heart when she died. Love you, Molly Wog.

8-28-17 So when Dr. Avella gave me the bad news last March, almost my first thought was, I will get to see Boo and Sasha and Alice and all the rest, sooner rather than later. That thought has been a great comfort thru chemotherapy and radiation and side effects and waiting. I will get to see all of you again. On a lighter note, Lee and Margaret are going to have a baby in the next week or so--I will be a grandma! I am so happy for them.

12-3-19 Misha is gone from us now, but Is hopefully with all of you. I am so glad Kelly, Misha's best friend for 14 years, was with him most of the night. Since the cancer is back, I will probably be seeing you in less than a year. I love you all so much.

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