Welcome to Java's Rainbow Bridge Memorial Residency
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Memories of Java
I have been writing and rewriting Java's story now ever since I got him the residency. I have been
trying so hard to think what would best capture him and help everyone to know who he was.
You see there are so many remarkable moments. How he came into my life is in itself a fairy tale.

I was living on my own for the first time on the backside of Mount Snow in Vermont. I had
graduated college that previous May (1994) and one of the very first things on my mind was
getting a cat. I had a cat as a kid you see and loved him dearly (his name was Ben), but my mom
had ended up with most of the care taking duties and Ben together with his sister, Cindy, had
reeked havoc on our furniture. So, when we lost them within a couple of years of one another,
my sister and I were told very firmly that, "No cat is ever coming into this house ever again."
Now, my mom is an avid animal lover. I am sure I get that from her, and I know she loved those
cats and missed them but we had a dog too and then there were the two of us and it was a lot. In
any case "no cat was ever coming into that house again," and from that moment on (I was 10)I
began to count the days to when I would have a place of my own and be able to have a cat once

I had barely moved into my place in Vermont the fall after I graduated when one of my
supervisors at work announced that she had a cat who had just given birth to a litter of kittens.
One of them was an orange tiger (Ben had been a butterscotch tiger). I laid my claim immediately
and settled down to wait for him to be old enough to leave his mother. I could hardly wait, but
destiny had other ideas.

It was snowing hard that night and the temperature was near 20 below. I was living in the
downstairs portion of a converted barn and the drafts were fierce. I built the fire in the wood
stove up till things were relatively cozy and settled down in my wool socks, sweat pants, and
sweatshirt, under my sleeping bag in my bean bag chair in front of the T.V. We didn't get network
reception of course, but I had a VCR and we could watch movies. It was late when the knock

It is such a different world up there that beyond a passing curiosity about who could be calling so
late, it never occurred to me not to open the door. So, I did. I never knew then how such a
simple action could and would change my life completely and forever. Standing there at the door
was my neighbor from upstairs. I didn't know her well and all I remember of her now is the bulky
green jacket she was wearing that night. She had it zipped right up to the top and out of it was
peeking the littlest face with the biggest eyes and ears I had ever seen. From that moment on that
little orange tiger didn't stand a chance. Oh, I kidded myself for a couple of days. I didn't want a
black cat (my two best friends both had black cats). I wanted a fat, fluffy cat and this scrawny,
mite ridden kitten with no fur sure didn't look like he was going to be that. I knew nothing about
him, where he had come from who his mother was. As if any of that really mattered. Java knew
he was home the moment he set his feet on the floor. He jumped in my lap, gave me kisses and
then climbed my woodpile and sat there looking at me, his tail wrapped around his little feet, a
king surveying his kingdom. By the time I found out two days later that he had come from across
the road, I was actually delighted to find that he was the runt of a litter belonging to one of 16
stray cats the woman had taken in. She was very kind hearted and meant well, but Java or "little
sad eyes" as she called him was just one of many to her. She wanted to know if he was happy and
I assured her he was. I invited her to come see him but she never did. She didn't really want him
and I was thrilled with the realization because by that time I really really did. Orange tiger? What
orange tiger?

Now I just had to tell my mother. What to say? What to say? I began what I thought might be a
very difficult phone conversation with "Mom, I know this means I can never move home again . .
. ."

"Well, let's not say never . . .," she interjected, and so Java became part of the family. I will never
forget the first time my mom met Java. It was love at first sight. He traveled home with me when
I visited and by that time his coat had grown and the mites of course had been treated. He had
defied all odds and become what I would never have imagined he would be; he was the fat, fluffy
cat of my dreams and the moment he put his paws on my mom's knees and looked imploringly at
her while she sat in front of the computer he became not just my cat but her grandkitty. "Well,
come right up, friendly kitty." I still remember those words and I can see that moment so clearly
in my mind. Java just had that gift. You couldn't not love him. Even my sister once said to my
mom as they were watching Java, "Sometimes, I think I really want a cat but then I stop and think
and realize that no I really don't want a cat. What I really want is HIM." He had my dad
trudging through the woods one time at my side while we called and called. He had been out all
night and a whole day. He had missed several meal times and it wasn't like him at all. We were
visiting from Washington D.C. by that point. Java was about 6 I think and had become mostly
an indoor cat; D.C was just not the place for a cat to go out. I was still letting him out whenever
I visited my parents though at least until that day. I don't know who was happier or more
relieved when finally I called one more time and Java answered me. The howl he set up made me
feel he was in some distress, though I never found out what it was. I kept talking to him and he
came towards me and I went towards him until finally he emerged from the tree line and I caught
him up in my arms. He was very happy to see me, but then of course he wanted to go right back
out:) I think part of him knew that would be it. After a scare like that I just couldn't let him out
again. The idea of not knowing where he was or what might have happened to him was just
unbearable. I couldn't take it and I know my dad couldn't either. He always says that day took
ten years off his life.

There are so many remarkable moments I could tell about. Like the time he hissed at a peeping
tom who had gotten on our roof when my roommate Jessica and I lived in Worcestster, or the
way he took care of Katie (my baby girl; a kitten [now 6] I had gotten to be Java's companion when my
hours at work grew long). He adopted her and truly became her big brother. He took a bath with me once, sat on my stomach, his long, beautiful tail just hanging in the water while he purred. What possessed me to take such a risk I don't know, but somehow I just knew he'd be ok with it. Then there was the
time (the one and only time) in his life that he scratched someone on purpose. I was emotionally
distressed and he was sitting in my lap. My friend, George, bent down to comfort me; he was not
the source of the distress, but all Java knew was that I was upset and I guess George got a bit too
close for his taste and he reached out and raked my friend across the wrist. There are so, so many
moments like that.

It is not those remarkable moments that make me miss him so much, though. It is the agonizing
absence of those day to day little moments that make it so hard right now: the kisses and
snuggles, the way he flopped on the floor, the tilt of his head when he was watching something,
how I'd wake up and see his patient, furry face right there waiting for me, his purr and his chirp
(he really didn't meow much unless he was scared or upset), how he'd trot across the floor and let
out a little chirp with each step he took. The way he put his head on my chest or shoulder and the
contented sigh he'd let out. Just holding him and feeling him in my arms. These unremarkable
things are what made him so remarkable and it these ongoing moments more than the individual
memories that make starting a new day so hard right now. I know I will have other pets and I will
love them, and they will each be special in their own way, but there will never be another Java.
He was my friend, my soulmate, my partner, my baby, my life. I know it will get easier with time
but nothing can or will ever fill this vacancy until I meet my friend again and we cross the rainbow
bridge together.

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