It took awhile longer to convince him though to come live in my house. In the meantime, he kept me company when I was outside and made me laugh by doing things like sitting on top of the garage roof in the middle of a blizzard, and running around the yard like his tail was on fire. One day he finally worked up enough courage to come in as far as the kitchen. But he only stayed long enough to steal a cat toy and run back outside with it.
Little Guy could not mind his own business and despite his small stature, was always getting into fights with other cats. Many trips to the vet ensued. Finally I managed to convince him that he was much safer indoors. From his very first night in, he slept in my bed beside me. Now that he's gone I don't even sleep in my bed anymore--I can't bear to.
It had turned out that Little Guy was a package deal because soon after he showed up in my yard, his sister did too. Only she had no interest in making friends with me. She just wanted the free food. And to be with her brother, whom she adored. That's the one thing Trixie and I had in common...the adoration of that little debonair, tuxedoed gent with the half a mustache and mischievous glint in his eye. He owned both our hearts and we would do anything for him. Including, in Trixie's case, running into the house one day in sheer panic--fearing that if she didn't come in too, she would never see him again. She loathed ME (or so I thought) but she LOVED her brother--even more than her freedom.
They were my little family and they kept me company after my mother died and gave me solace. After I got sick myself and was away for two months, I cried myself even sicker every day worrying about them. Did they think I had died too? Were they grieving for me? It was when I was finally able to go home that I realized (and maybe she realized too) how much Trixie actually loved me. She immediately came and sat down in front of me, obviously happy and relieved that I was back. But there was sadness in her eyes too. Was it because she didn't understand why I had left them? Or did she know (as I found out later myself) that she had developed cancer while I was away?
I had finally come home, but now SHE was leaving.
Little Guy, bless his ignorant heart, didn't seem to have any idea how sick his sister was. To my horror, he'd put her in a headlock every chance he got, and gobble up all the food I kept putting down on the floor in a desperate attempt to get her to eat. It was only about a week before she died that the realization of how sick Trixie was finally seemed to sink into him. Then he stopped with the headlocks and started staring at her in silence instead...an unreadable look in his eyes.
The look in Trixie's eyes every time she looked upon her brother, was unmistakable though. It was the greatest love for anyone that I'd ever seen in any being's eyes...animal or human. A look of love haunting in its intensity and purity.
After she died, I laid Trixie's body on a chair while I waited to bring it to be cremated. Little Guy walked over and sniffed the blanket that was over her. Then he rubbed his chin on it and hugged the chair. It was the last hug he'd ever be able to give his beloved sister. Then he laid down next to the chair and went to sleep. A little heartbroken curled-up ball of fur. He was still there--asleep--when I took Trixie away.
I know that Little Guy was never as happy again as he was before his sister died. I tried to make him happy. But I couldn't be what Trixie had been to him. I couldn't be his constant companion through every passing minute. I couldn't wrestle on the bed with him until one of us fell off, I couldn't chase him around the house and then turn around and let him chase me... I couldn't give him a tongue bath or cuddle with him in the cat bed, or eat when he did with both our heads in the bowl at the same time...
I could never replace Trixie in his life anyway--because she was with him from the very beginning of it. Both born outside from the same feral mother, exposed to the same harsh elements from kittenhood, sharing the same aching hunger, probably both chased off at the same time too by their mother when she decided it was time they tried to fend for themselves...
Long before they knew me, they knew each other. And only had each other.
But, oh, how I continued to love my Little Guy! More and more with each year that passed. Now it was just him and me. Always together...just the two of us. He was my whole life and I know I became his whole life too.
Did I take him for granted? Of course I did. Don't we always take the ones we love for granted? Because even as fear grips our hearts knowing what a thief time and old age is, somehow we still think our loved ones will be with us forever. Just because we need them to be.
There's no point in detailing my little boy's last months on earth. Suffice it to say that he suffered more than he deserved to. Yet he was still struggling to hang onto life a mere hour before I had to rush him up to the animal hospital he would never leave alive from. My boy was a trooper, a survivalist--he'd learned to be back in his feral days. Even the chronic respiratory infections he'd suffered from his entire life had never succeeded in dampening his spirits. He'd never expected life to be easy.
And I never expected to lose him when I did. Or have to put him to sleep. Or have him already so deep in the process of dying by the time I got to him, that he probably didn't even know who that was who kept whispering tearfully in his ear, over and over again, "I love you, Little Guy! I love you!"
I told Little Guy to look for Trixie, because she had loved him as much as I did, and she'd been waiting for him for a long time. I hope he heard me. If there really is a Heaven and a Rainbow Bridge, there's no doubt in my mind that Trixie stood faithfully at it every day, waiting for our dear little boy to arrive. I pray that they had a joyous reunion. And stay by each other's side forever--because they need each other. And please, Lord, don't let them be grieving for me the way I'm grieving for them. Or for the days when the three of us were so happy together.
But oh, my Little Guy, how I miss YOU! (And you too, Trixie. Although this was written in memory of Little Guy--never doubt that I love and miss you too.)
How do you survive when your whole world has come to an end? When your heart has been torn to shreds and for the first time in your life, you're all alone?
Little Guy, you were everything to me. And everything was you.
Everything was you...