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Friday, March 15, 2013

Remembering Maddie

I don't know why they call it heartbreak.  
It feels like every other part of my body is broken too.  
~Missy Altijd

Animal friendships must be inextricably linked to human friendships.  For when an animal leaves this world, no matter where the human relationships involved in that animal's life have ventured during those years, they are most always brought back together to mourn the loss. It is as if love has scratched a trail across our hearts so that we may always find our way back to ourselves and to each other. And so I begin with the story of Maddie. 

Super tiny baby Maddie with Warren and Sarah

Many years ago, while going to school and living on campus with my husband, we became friends with Lisa who was the apartment manager in our building. I have to credit my husband, Warren, for the introductions. I tend a bit on the introvert side of things and had not yet made it a point to meet my neighbors. Within three days of my husband moving in with me, he had met most of the tenants on our floor, including Lisa who lived right next door. After a few times of hanging out with Lisa, we discovered, besides a mutual love of cocktails, a friendship that would stand the test of time. 

Lisa, Sarah and Warren

Not long after we met Lisa, we met Jenny, one of Lisa's long time friends. As fate would have it, the four of us bonded pretty much right away. And not too long after we all met, Lisa brought Maddie home. A 'teeny tiny and too young to be away from her mom' kitten. Of course, we all immediately rooted ourselves in this baby kitten's life, establishing our role as godparents, even introducing her to our cats who zealously took on the role of cat cousins.

Lisa, Jenny and Sarah

Lisa had trouble deciding on a name for this little bundle of strawberry blond fur. So for a while we tried out the name Dixie on her. Then for a time she was Montana Poquito.  There might have been more but eventually Lisa settled on Maddie. Once Maddie had her name, she officially began her life as a kitten. A crazy one at that. You know how kittens are, running wild at all hours of the night only to drop like a narcoleptic, sleeping like the dead. In a short time, Lisa was a bit overwhelmed. She wasn't sure this business of being a cat mom was really her thing. She even asked us how we would feel about adopting Maddie. Of course, as much as we loved Maddie, we knew that Maddie and Lisa were meant for each other. We pushed Lisa to give it a couple more weeks. Wanting to really give it go, Lisa tried. Within a few short days, Lisa came by our apartment to inform us that she had fallen in love with Maddie and was going to keep her. We sorta knew that was going to happen!

Warren and baby Maddie

As Maddie grew, we had 'cat play dates' with all of us. Our cats would visit Lisa's apartment where they would teach Maddie how to do cat things like getting up on the kitchen counters, knocking knick knacks out of windows, and playing chase up and down and all over the living room. And we would invite Maddie over to eat catnip and hang at our pad. Just like their humans, the three cats became best of friends. 

Oshun, Maddie and Boozie eating catnip
Maddie even adopted one of her miniature toy kittens as a baby of her own. She took 'Baby' as we now called it to the food bowl, to the water bowl and all around the house with her. There were some times when we panicked that Baby may have been lost.  This was not a phase, for Maddie kept Baby with her for the rest of her days.

Eventually, we all graduated and moved from campus.  Without planning, we happened to move to the same neighborhood as Jenny, and Lisa was just a bike ride away. As we were now in the 'burbs, we began to teach our cats how to be outside. Warren built an outdoor enclosure out of chicken wire where the cats could come and go outside from an open window in the house. When Maddie visited she would join her cousins in the big adventure of discovering the outside world. 

Oshun, Boozie and Maddie in the outdoor enclosure

After a few years, as it happens, the four of us moved farther apart, got real jobs, and began to carve out our own niches in the world. We didn't see each other as much but when we did, it was always a reunion for us as well as expectant updates on our cats. Sadly, we lost Oshun when she was just 5 years old and Boozie when he was 11.  Then we mourned the loss of Jennys best canine friend Frieda.  But Miss Maddie out lived them all. Just recently, at 14 years old, Maddie’s heart grew old and eventually stopped beating. She joined her cousins in the spirit world. We are certain that they welcomed her and showed her around. In fact, we are even more certain that they have resumed their play once again and are now wreaking havoc all over cat heaven! 

Maddie growing up, with Warren
Maddie growing up, with Sarah and Warren

When the news reached me, Maddie was already gone. Brokenhearted for our animal and human friend, I immediately contacted Jenny to let her know. We all reconnected by voicemails, missed calls and texts, sending our love out to Lisa and to each other.  Warren and I pulled out our pre-digital camera/pre iPhone photos (aka: paper photos, remember those?) where we spent a better portion of the evening reminiscing over Maddie pictures. Tears slid down our cheeks even as we chuckled as we remembered her shenaningens which led to us remembering all the great times we all had together. 

Coming together in not only the good times but also in the hard times is the true celebration of friendship.That's when we realized how our animal friendships have made way for our human friendships. Going even more out on a limb, we pondered whether our animal friends choose us so that they may be there with us as we forge a path through life, leading us to people we need to have in our lives; and when they leave us, it is not just their time to go, but also their way of saying they have done their part and can only journey with us so far. They know we will be ok for they will truly not be gone because they will live  on in our hearts forever. 

We will miss you, Miss Maddie and we are very thankful for the friendship you provided us and for the human friendships you encouraged. You took such wonderful care of your mama. Please stay close to her heart while she heals and visit her now and again. I just know she'd appreciate that! 

When you are sorrowful look again in your heart,
and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight. 
-Kahlil Gibran

In loving memory of Maddie,

This post is dedicated to all who have mourned for the loss of their beloved pets.  Our friend Deb lost her cat, Texas; our other friend Deb lost her dog Tobin; my friend Karen lost her dog Buck; my sister Barb who lost her dog Shera, her cat Urni and her dog Chad-Chad; my sister Janet who lost their cat Peaches; my sister Susan who lost her cat Ariel; my parents who lost their dogs Timmy, Freda and Annie; my inlaws who lost their beagles Bacon and Bits; Pam and Dave who lost their lab; my friend Roz who lost her two cats; my aunt who lost her Dalmatian; my friend and sister Gwyn who lost her cat; my friend Kathy who lost her rottie Athena; our friends Irene and Dave who have lost and loved many pugs and precious Goldie; my cousin Sandy who lost Lacey just today; and all those who I have not mentioned - you are loved.

1 comment:

  1. Oh Sarah! You have found the wonderful in today once again. Thank you for all the pictures, all the good times, the ever-precious friendship, and for sharing with us your beautiful words.

    To our little love, Maddie, may you romp forever in the land of no worries and keep your mom's heart warm with sweet memories.