It’s hard to say goodbye

Published 12:11 am Sunday, January 31, 2016

Earlier this week, a couple I know had to put down their family cat, Chubbs.

Chubbs was an old cat and he had gotten sick recently. It was too much for the cat to fight and the family didn’t want him to suffer any longer.

I had met Chubbs a couple of times but he, like so many other cats, didn’t want anything to do with me or anyone else.

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I reached my hand out to the cat’s nose so he could get a sniff, but I was promptly warned against doing so, as Chubbs had very discriminating tastes.

As I took my hand back, he swiped his paw at me.

Cats are real jerks, right?

Hearing about Chubb’s passing made me a little sad as well. It made me think of my long-time companion cat, Matilda, who is also a jerk.

Matilda is about 12 years old, so the thought of her getting old and sick isn’t so crazy of thought. The average lifespan of a cat is about 15 years.

I got Matilda in college. Actually, my college boyfriend decided we needed a cat, even though I didn’t want one. I wasn’t what you’d call a “cat person.”

Matilda was the cutest little tuxedo cat you’ve ever seen, but we quickly realized she was a tiny, furry spawn of Satan.

Her little teeth were like needles sinking into my hands and feet. Her claws here like razor blades across my skin.

She didn’t like to be cuddled or held. She was vindictive. It seemed every time I punished her for bad behavior, there would be a poop surprise waiting just where I’d find it.

Eventually my boyfriend disowned the cat because she was not what he had pictured. I couldn’t allow her to be abandoned so I insisted on keeping her, even though she made my life much more difficult that it ought to have been.

Matilda grew out of a lot of her worst behaviors as the months and years went on.

I think we’ve come to a mutual understanding that I won’t bother her and she will continue to bother me as much as she pleases.

Despite her shortcomings as a docile house pet, we have been through so much together — break-ups, moves, deaths and the like.

She doesn’t really like to be held, but I think she can always tell when I need a pick-me-up because she will jump up in my lap and allow me to pet her.

While Matilda is definitely a quirky animal, I wouldn’t give her up for anything, and I can only imagine what it will be like when the time comes to say goodbye.

When my friends said goodbye to Chubbs, their veterinarian passed on a poem to them, called “The Rainbow Bridge.”

‘There is a bridge connecting Heaven and Earth. It is called the Rainbow Bridge because of its many colors. Just this side of the Rainbow Bridge there is a land of meadows, hills and valleys with lush green grass.

“When a beloved pet dies, the pet goes to this place. There is always food and water and warm spring weather. All the animals who have been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.

“The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind. They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. Her bright eyes are intent; her eager body begins to quiver. Suddenly she begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, her legs carrying her faster and faster.

“You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

“Then you cross the Rainbow Bridge together, never again to be separated.”