The Peacekeeper

It was one year ago today, that we said our farewell…

We buried her little body wrapped in muslin, encircled with a ribbon in a soft shade of apricot, feather tucked underneath, from a pheasant, her trophy-catch from her younger years.  My kitty, Azzip.  That’s pizza, spelled backwards.

It was a long good-bye...nearly 2 ½ years since her near-death experience...heart failure.  It was on Easter Sunday. I’d rushed her to the emergency pet clinic. It was a heartbreaking sight, seeing her in the intensive care unit. They said it was the end.  I was caught totally off-guard, in disbelief and grief-stricken.

But, oh, did they underestimate her spirit! We took her home and she accepted the little pocket morning and night, filled with after day, month after month.  I would sweet-talk her, tell her how brave she was...tell her I loved her.  I admit, it wasn’t easy. She was a high maintenance princess!

We called her the whiner. If there was any debate or discord in the room; the slightest bit of tension, excitement or volume in our voices, we would be met with a constant stream of meows.  Once, when ignored, she literally began climbing my pant leg.  It was as if she was saying: “Stop, you’re breaking my heart!”  Our little peacekeeper.  

Over the years, she would have multiple days of not eating much, then a fresh can of tuna, especially the juice, with a side of coaxing, would tempt her and get her going again.  So last week, although the thought: “This could be the end”, entered my mind, I left her and Don Juan, her feline the trusted care of our friend, Tina, a gem of a soul, as I headed up north horsecamping with friends.

On Saturday evening, Tina texted me that Azzip wasn’t doing well. That she didn’t come out to visit and that she still had not eaten, nor could be tempted.  I told her that I’d head home first thing in the morning.

That evening, my friends and I sat around the campfire, talking about animals and what we’d each experienced with our losses. I then shared about Azzip’s life.  We had been brought together by our daughter, over 15 years ago.  She had rescued Azzip.  I shared how she had disappeared the first day we got her.  That we believed her to be up inside a wall of my newly constructed tack room.  My husband, asked a volunteer fireman to come over with a heat seeking gun and we found a warm spot in the wall.  Just like the warm spot already in my heart. It didn’t take long and we were chatting through the wall.

I also shared about how she loved hunting; frequently leaving gifts in the tack room.  Her once-in-a-lifetime trophy catch was a pheasant. Linda, Azzip’s loving care-taker back then, got great pleasure telling me the story. She’d opened the door into the tack room, to find it half way in through the cat door.  We wondered with these sizeable victims, this was not the first, how did she do it? I had mixed feelings about these hunting sprees. I laid the pheasant’s body on the edge of the woods, and saved a few of it’s beautiful feathers.

I left the fireside circle warmed inside and out, not realizing the vigil that it actually was.  I wrote in my journal:  “I feel like she’ll be here yet tomorrow. I hope she knows that I’ll be home soon.” 

Early Sunday morning, before dawn, Tina texted that Azzip was about the same.  I relaxed a bit and had a cup of coffee, feeling comforted by the rain pelting on the roof of my camper. As I was packing up, the clouds cleared, and the sun came out and I hit the road.

When I got home,  I called expectantly, “Azzip”, but no answer.  I looked and found her lying in the litter box.  My heart sank...I was too late.  I cried her name again and she lifted her head and looked at me over her shoulder. I scooped her up. I knew it was bad and began tearfully crooning.  My husband had just opened the door and was coming up the stairs and joined me.  I began whispering into her ear:  “I love you, I love you, I love you”...  She let go.  It had been no more than five minutes.

I wrapped her little body and held her for a while.  I attempted to allow this devastating miracle to wash over me.  The shock and disbelief that she was gone, the grief; but also, that I’d gotten home in time to say good-bye. 

Doug and I made our way outside up to our pet cemetary, and tearfully laid her to rest. The feather tucked under the ribbon. We topped the little mound of dirt with bark mulch, denoting her spot among the others. 

Azzip Altar 10 25 17.jpg

I had texted Linda the sad news, always Azzip’s good friend and admirer in addition to caretaker.  She agreed that of the surprises Azzip had left over the years, the pheasant was the best.  She added: “I know she took a piece of your heart today.”     

Good-bye my little Azzip.  That’s pizza, spelled backwards.

I miss you, sweet pea…