I knew it that morning. I had always said as long as Kiko ‘danced in my hair’ I was going to do everything I could to make him better. I always considered him extra special. My Grandma loved to see black cats lying in the green grass, and he found me a few weeks after her death. A skinny, stray black cat, you guessed it - lying in the green grass.
But, he was no longer my cat. He didn’t want to eat. (Definitely not Kiko.) I tried petting him, talking to him, lying next to him. He didn’t want me near him. When I’d lie down beside him, he’d walk away. He was telling me it was time to let go.
The week before we had gone to the vet’s. His weight was down to 6 lbs, 5 ounces. How could he get any skinnier? It had been two years of trying everything, and there was nothing left to do. I remember going home that night, devastated. Kiko and I had an especially good talk. I told him how much I loved him. He danced in my hair, purred in my ear, and we fell asleep lying next to each other, his paw resting on my arm. I remember saying to my Mom the next morning, it was like he was telling me that everything was okay. No matter what happened, it was going to be okay.
That day I made a last ditch attempt taking him to the vet’s, hoping against hope there was something they could do for him. I knew there wasn’t, but I didn’t want to give up without saying I had tried everything. His weight was down to 5 lbs, 2 ounces. His little body was consuming itself. I took him home, and made arrangements for the vet to come to my apartment.
My fiancé Jeff picked up a shrimp ring, and I laughed and smiled when I watched Kiko chomp on them. I was so glad he got to enjoy those shrimp.
My sweet little boy had taken such good care of me. I can remember one time in particular, when it felt like my world had ended. He stayed with me the whole night, his little body tucked in against mine, reaching his paw up to touch my cheek.
Sometimes, Kiko and I would slow dance to music. There’s a song ‘Godspeed’ by the Dixie Chicks, and I had changed the words so it would be ‘Kiko’s Song’. He’d rest on my shoulder, the best place in the world, and we’d rock back and forth.
When the vet came, I had that song programmed to repeat on the CD player. We spread out the flannel blanket he loved to lie on. I remember how he looked at me, looked right into my eyes. I lay down on my stomach, close to him, my hands softly touching his body. The blood vessels in his little arm were collapsed, so the vet had to try his other arm. I thanked him for letting me be his Mumma.
After the vet and his assistant left, I picked up my dear boy and gently placed him on my shoulder. There in my living room, we danced one last time to his song. I wished the song would never end.
I wrapped him in my red hooded sweatshirt jacket, and brought him to my parents’ house. While Jeff dug his grave in the backyard, I sat with him on my lap, stroking his fur, and watching the sunset with my Mom. It was the most beautiful spring evening.
Kiko was buried with the sash from my red satin housecoat that he loved to play with, and a piece of my hair I had cut and tied in ribbon. Later, I planted pussy willows and flowers.
We’ve all heard the expression “Everything happens for a reason.” Personally, I don’t believe it. Because sometimes, really sucky things happen and there’s just no good reason at all. I do however, believe there’s a lesson in everything.
I learned that sometimes you can do everything right, and everything you’re supposed to, and everything you possibly can, and still things don’t turn out the way you want them to. I learned that no matter how hard you try, and love, and do, there are some things you just can’t fix. But most importantly, I learned that even when the ending isn’t what you want it to be, it doesn’t mean it’s not worth it. Sometimes, even now, I still have to remind myself of that.
I remember reading a saying once, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” 6 ½ years just wasn’t long enough, yet I know how lucky I am to have had that time.
A little part of my heart went missing that day, but I have so many good memories of my sweet, funny, little guy to fill it in. Now I can smile and not just cry when I think of my dear boy. And I know, that sometimes when I’m sleeping, if only in my dreams, there’s a little black cat, dancing in my hair.