Monday, December 11, 2006

Midnight Monday

I left home yesterday knowing that I would not be home for Smudge's surgery tomorrow. It weighed heavily on my mind as I said goodbye to each of my fur-children. I have always been a believer in the philosophy of "Prepare for the Worst, Hope for the Best". That being said, since I will not be home for Smudge's surgery, I said my goodbyes to my beloved friend yesterday. I still have plenty of hope that he will come through the surgery fine, but I did not want to leave him without saying what I needed to.

I told him that I loved him and that we would see each other again, either in this world or the next. I am getting tired of writing so much sad stuff on this blog, but I could think of nothing better than what I wrote for Skeezix's contest. So here is Smudge's Tale of Devotion once again.



It is said that when you have a multi-pet household you need to be extra careful not to show favoritism to one animal over another. Just like humans, cats and dogs can suffer from feelings of jealousy and abandonment. With that said, I love all of my cats equally in their own special way. But my cats, free of human feelings of equality and justice, have no such limitations on who they love more. My oldest cat, Magoo, definitely loves my wife more than he loves me. Bella is pretty much equally indifferent to both of us, although she does enjoy her morning makeup sessions with my wife. Dolce leans more towards me, but in her own fiercely independent way. The last member of our household, Smudge, loves my wife and his grandma, but there is no mistaking who he holds in highest regard. Smudge is my cat and I want to tell you about Smudge’s two paws.

Although he has four paws, Smudge’s two front paws speak for him. His left paw says “I really do” and his right paw says “I love you.” It has taken me more than eight years to figure this out, and it required nearly losing him to kidney failure to finally grasp what he was trying to say.

Smudge first tried to tell me this as a kitten when he would fall asleep on my chest as we lay on the couch and watched the television on lazy Sunday afternoons. He would curl up in a warm comfortable ball for several minutes and then suddenly stretch out his paws. First the right paw, “I love you.”; then the left paw, “I really do.” Without understanding what he was saying, I responded instinctively with a loving massage on the back of his neck. To him, this was cat for “I do/am too.” Smudge and I have repeated this conversation more than three hundred times without realizing it.

As he grew up, Smudge has tried to teach me his two paw communication in other ways. At night, once everyone is settled in bed and the television is off and then only sound is the other cats and my wife snoring, Smudge will stretch out beside me. Shortly thereafter I will feel a little cat paw on my face. It is usually his right paw that pulls the blankets from around my face and then softly lands on my cheek. When the world is silent and dark, Smudge quietly says, “I love you.” Regularly he even adds, “I really do.”

Sometimes Smudge does not wait until everything is quiet to say those beloved three words to me. He has interrupted my reading of a book by rubbing his cheek forcefully against my hand. I think that means “I want you to talk to me.” If I ignore him, he uses his left paw to pull the book away. “I really do.” He says.

There are times when Smudge just needs to tell me how much he cares. He will hop up onto my lap and start kneading, first his right paw, then his left paw. I love you; I really do. He must think that I am a little slow, for he will continue to tell me that over and over again. I always give him the human equivalent and tell him that I love him too, but I don’t think he cares until I massage the back of his neck. Then and only then does he accept that “I do too.”

It was during one of our “I love you”, “I really do”, “I do too” sessions that I noticed how skinny he had become. Where there once was strong muscular shoulders, I now felt the bony ridges of his shoulder blades and spine. Luckily, his annual vet appointment was coming up quickly on the calendar. We would find out why he was losing weight and we would get him fixed up good as new. But Smudge was fated to never be good as new; he was diagnosed with chronic kidney failure. It was a condition we can only manage, never cure or fix.

We left him at the vet for treatment, but made a point of visiting him the next day. He looked terrified and small with the IV hanging from his left arm. His eyes said to me “I’m scared.” I lovingly massaged the back of his neck and told him “I am too.” As he lay in his cage and I tried to reassure him that everything was going to be alright, Smudge placed his right paw on top of my left hand. “I love you.” Once again I told him, “I do too.”

It was then that I realized what he had been trying to tell me all those years. After all those Sunday afternoons; after all those middle of the night reminders; after all that kneading on my lap; I finally understood. It took seeing him in cage at a vet’s office with an IV stuck in his arm and feeling his soft paw being placed on top of my hand to open my eyes to what he had been saying. When he was at the scariest moment of his life and he was all alone, he made the effort to tell me “I love you.”

When faced with his kind, gentle spirit; I know that I am not as noble of a creature as he is, but he doesn’t seem to care. Each night since he has been home, Smudge has said goodnight with his two paws. “I love you.” “I really do.” Somehow my response “I do too”, which appears to mean the world to him, does not match or even come close to depth of emotion Smudge shares.

26 comments:

  1. that story makes our Lady leaky every time she reads it. we're sorry Smudge is sick and is having to go through this, but we're praying constantly that he'll come through it just fine.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is beautifully written. Thank you for sharing this touching tale of devotion.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Purring and praying for Smudge. I'm so very sorry about your uncle.

    Finny, Buddy & mom

    ReplyDelete
  4. we will be purraying for Smudge tonight and all day tomorrow. we will light a candle and purray that the surgery goes well. Don't werry, you will see Smudge when you get back from your trip, and he will be so happy to see you.

    ReplyDelete
  5. We are thinking of your family and sweet Smudge. May you arrive home soon to sweep him up in your arms again!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Our hearts here are sending lots of love to Smudge, and purrayers that efurrything works out, and he responds well to the surgery. We are sending you, Smudge's dad, a special hug basket filled with hugs on your journey, and when you return you can share them with Smudge....

    ReplyDelete
  7. Purrs and headbutts to Smudge. We will be thinking of him.

    ReplyDelete
  8. We're pulling for you Smudge!

    Best wishes,
    ~J&B

    ReplyDelete
  9. we're berry worried about Smudge and can't wait to hear how he is. Angel has had a crush on him for EVER so she's saying lots of purrayers and sending sandpaper kisses.

    luv Taz n Angel

    ReplyDelete
  10. We're sending lots of purrs and purrayers for Smudge's surgery to go great.
    Purrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrs,
    Sanjee, Boni, Mini, Pepi, Gree and Mom Robyn

    ReplyDelete
  11. I am sending lots of good thoughts your way for both you and Smudge. I'm hoping the surgery will go fine and Smudge will improve a lot.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Smudge we are sending the best healing vibes we have and hopes you get well quickly ~Poiland Tribe

    ReplyDelete
  13. OC, Carma and the non-furry factions of our family are hoping for the best for Smudge and for you as you face this difficult day apart. Our best thoughts and well wishes are with you. If love can help cure, Smudge would surely be well.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Smudge is in our thoughts and purrayers. We hope that his surgery goes well and he heals quickly.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Our thoughts and prayers are with Smudge today. Our mommy just had the "kidney stone" ... so we know what Smudge is feeling like. He will feel so much better after the surgery.

    PURRS & PRAYERS!

    ReplyDelete
  16. We will be praying for Smudge and hope his surgery goes well.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hi Smudge and his family,

    We will be keeping you in our thoughts and prurryers today. Best wishes for your surgery and a speedy recovery.


    D
    J
    CC

    ReplyDelete
  18. We are praying for Smudge and all of you today and during this difficult time. There is a lot of love coming your way right now and I'm sure Smudge feels it.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Good luck, Smudge! Hear that sound? It's all us bloggin kitties purrin for you.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Meowm and I are saying many purrayers today and will keep our paws crossed for Smudge's surgery to go well and be successful.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Thinkin' our very bestest kitty thoughts for Smudge. Many purrs and headbutts bein' sent your way, fellow House Panther.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I am so hoping all goes well and that you and Smudge will be happily together again when you return.

    ReplyDelete
  23. All of us Atlanta Kitties are praying for you, Smudge!

    April, Remy and Katrina

    ReplyDelete
  24. We're saying purrayers fur yoor surjery today Smudge. We hope the doktor fixed yoo reely good.

    ReplyDelete
  25. oh Smudge Were purring fur yoo and making sure owr lady does the same, hang in thare buddy!!!

    ReplyDelete
  26. I heard on Skeezix's blog that Smudge is feeling better! I hope things go well for this special kitty!! >^_^<

    ReplyDelete