Goodbye Bee

comments: 118

BridgetAndClover

We lost our little cat Bridget this weekend. We'd known it was coming for a while but, even knowing that, it was still so hard. She was twenty years old this spring. We found her when she was a baby kitten. She was always pretty feral. I kept thinking back to the one time she'd ever sat on me in all the years we lived together. It was that first morning she lived with us. At the crack of dawn that morning I'd crept into the guest room (guest room because Violet was stressing) to visit her. I was so excited. I laid down on the floor on my stomach and rested my head on my arms. She came over and climbed up onto the back of my legs and tucked her little feet under her like a tiny roosting hen. She sat there for ages. I didn't move a muscle. I remember just having the biggest smile on my face — a kitten! Sitting on me! We had a new kitten! She was sitting on me! Everyone else was asleep.

She was such a cute kitten, all fluffy and wide-eyed. It was early spring when she came, just after St. Patrick's Day, and we named her Bridget. She was gray, white, and peach, and for some reason she always reminded me of a feisty little Irish girl. She was really feisty. That first morning when she came and sat on me just because she felt like it? Never to be repeated. Ever. She did not like to be picked up, she never sat on our laps, she hissed at everybody (hissing kitten!), and you could only pet her on the forehead or behind the ears while not looking at her. You could pet her if you looked at something else, like something across the room or to your side. But if you pet her "wrong," especially while looking at her, she would punch you right in the face. It was clear after those first few days that she had never been handled by people, and had probably been born outside and had spent the first six or so weeks of her life before she came to us outside. Neither Violet (who was five when we came to Portland from Missoula) nor Bridget could be kept indoors. (When Violet was still a kitten in Missoula she actually jumped out of a second-floor bathroom skylight and got out onto the roof [which she fell off of, into a bunch of hosta plants in the side yard]. We weren't home at the time. I remember that when we'd left the house, she was there in it. When we got home, she was nowhere to be found, and not a single door or window was open. We could not find her and we literally looked in every single place she could be. Eventually, after exhausting all rational options, I noticed that the skylight in the bathroom ceiling was open. It was sort of a flat plane of glass that was like a casement window that you could push open a few inches; one of our roommates had probably taken a shower and left it open, never thinking it would be a problem. She must have literally jumped eight feet straight into the air to get to it, or somehow vaulted from the sink and grabbed the trim with her claws. We ran outside and standing looking around the perimeter of the house, and there she was, sitting in a big plant.) She just wanted out. All the time. And Bridget was the same. So from very early days our cats always went outside. Violet was almost eighteen when she passed away in 2012. Both of those good girls spent most of their time outside and still came home every single night of their lives. They were so good about always coming home. I really appreciated that about both of them. They were so reliable in that way.

The Bee spent most of her days lounging, or hunting, or running off any other cats that came anywhere near the house. She had a funny little trilling, chirrup-y meow that I can still hear in my mind. She was light as a feather and quick as a whip. She would sting you if you weren't careful. If she ever walked across someone's lap, all of us, the whole family, would freeze and hold our breath. She made Clover nervous every single day. She enjoyed the neighbors' yards more than ours, and we frequently got reports from our neighbors on either side that she was sunning herself on their patio tables. The goal of her life since about 2015 was to walk across all my stuff (knitting pattern/counter/embroidery floss/pattern papers/scissors, etc.) on the sofa and knock it on the floor and then come around behind me and drink out of my ice-water glass. Every single night. She'd also, before the days of the sheep fleece (see below), stalk and harass me until I finally got off the sofa to go to bed and then she'd be in my spot so fast; I would literally still be scooching toward the end of the chaise lounge in my nightgown and she'd already be in the warm depression I'd left behind. She brought in probably a half-dozen birds over the years, which was so distressing I can't even tell you. She lost every collar and every bell that we tried to put on her. Every single one. She was free and she wanted to be free. I know she loved us in her Bridget way and we loved her in ours.

She had been mostly inside for the past couple of years, but she'd still go out on the back porch and lay in the sun during the day when it was nice. Slowly, as she got more and more arthritic, her territory shrunk, and since this past autumn she'd been mostly sleeping on a pile of handmade quilts in her basket (which was originally baby Amelia's gorgeous Amish basket, with the wool-stuffed cushion) under the sideboard. A few months ago I found our sheep fleece that we'd gotten at the flock and fiber festival in the basement for some reason. Amelia had taken it outside and it had some little pieces of sticks and grass in it, and I'd been meaning to brush it out. We brought it up and put it on Clover's bed, and Clover Meadow absolutely loved it.

And so did Bridget. :))) The picture above was taken a few weeks ago by Amelia with my phone. Clover's face makes me laugh so hard. She is so nervous because she's literally about to get run off by Bridget. Which she was. Repeatedly. Within seconds of that photo, The Bee was on the fleece. Eventually we just gave the fleece to her and put it in her basket and then she hardly ever, ever came out of her basket. And for these last few weeks I think she was just about as comfy and cozy as a creature could possibly be, and that brings peace to my heart.

She was such a little fighter girl until her dying day. Andy and I counted at least two separate times — once about four years ago, when she had an infection behind her right eye, and again about five months ago, when she had a seizure that messed up her back permanently — that she literally fought her way back from the very edge. This time, this last seizure she had on Thursday was too much, and it broke her tiny, fragile body.

We buried her in the front border, very near the driveway where we had found her all those years ago. It's a nice place, under the plum tree with a view of the birdbath, and we'll be able to see the spot from the dining-room window. I know she is at peace, and so is Violet, out there, too, just a few yards away. And so is our beloved first dog, Audrey, who we lost so long ago now. All of them such good friends to us, for so many years of our lives.

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Goodbye, dear little Bee. I love you and miss you. Rest now, and be well, little darling. Be well. XO

118 comments

Tears are pouring down my cheeks reading your post. I'm so sorry for your loss. Animals are such a gift, their love is unconditional- and forever. Sending hugs to you across the globe, your house will be quieter tonight. xxBrenda

What a beautiful tribute to a beloved cat. I’m totally tearing up at my desk this morning looking at all the photos of Bee. Our pets love us in so many ways. Thanks for writing this, your words really touched me.

Oh, that's so hard. She was such a sweet kitty, I'm glad you got 20 years with her. Don't know you or your family but sending well wishes from afar.

So deeply sorry for your loss.

Always the hardest. A beautifully written tribute. Sending hugs.

Cheryl Frueh says: February 05, 2020 at 12:33 PM

I am so sorry for your loss. I love your tribute to The Bee.

I'm so sorry for your loss. What a lovely tribute to a beautiful creature. Rest in Peace, Bridget. Make sure to say hi to all the animals that we all love.

What a lovely tribute to your beautiful wild at heart cat. She obviously had a very good life with you, so many points in her behaviour that you described, I recognise in my own cats over the years.

I’m so so sorry for you loss. Thank you for sharing all about your time together. These furry friends really impact our live. My kitty who is almost 15 stayed by my side during these past few years which have been a bit bumpy and it was always like she knew when i needed her presence and would cuddle up to me. And what a protector to my youngest son as well she guards him at night though they are about the same age.

Sending much love to you all.
Ming

Nathalie Carles says: February 05, 2020 at 09:43 PM

We have lost our darling 20 years old cat this summer and buried her under her beloved tree, I still miss her so I know how heart breaking it s to loose an animal, they are all special to us, they are part of our lives, they are "there" all the time waiting for us, they boss us, we love it and when there are gone it is so empty...so empty.....she was beautiful and I am sure that she had a great great life with your family.

Oh, I'm so sorry, Alicia and Andy and Amelia! I know how hard it is to lose a little kitty you love. And I remember when you lost Violet, and I started reading your blog very shortly after you lost Audrey. I can't believe I've been reading your blog for so long. I feel like I know you, and I definitely care about your little family even though you don't know me. Peace to you all!

tracy mchugh says: February 06, 2020 at 06:41 AM

sending lots of love, and hugs. what a beautiful tribute to a beloved friend <3
our pets make us better people, don't they? what a gift.
peace to all of you!!!

Claire Robinson says: February 06, 2020 at 09:02 AM

Sweet words... So sad when a beloved pet dies

I remember a post from long ago where you wrote about an interaction between Andy and Bee and his response to her was, "why do you have to be that way Bee..." For some reason that snippet of that post has always stuck with me. Hugs to you.

we love them so and when they go they take a piece of our heart.........

So very sorry...she's beautiful. What lovely memories.

I'm so sorry for your loss. We know they live shorter than us, we say we are always prepared, but aren't. Only knowing they were happy and had a good life, makes it easier.

I'm so sorry that Bee has gone. What a lovely tribute to your dear little cat. How nice that you have some beautiful images to add to the memories you have of her.

It's just so hard when you lose a furbaby. IMO, they joy of having them outweighs that pain but it is so sharp. Some of the incidents you describe do make that pain less sharp at the end but that's because you grieve in advance. I don't know which is worse. In the something in common category, I have a 19-year old pastel calico (that's what my vet calls the coat of cats like your Bee)and where she used to be a chunky girl, she is feather light now. My heart clutches for just a moment when I pick her up these days. Good for you writing such a wonderful obituary for your girl. How many cats receive an obituary and an eloquent one at that.

So very sorry about the loss of your old friend. We lost our dear Rosie last week also. Those old girl kitties leave lasting pawprints on our hearts. Glad you gave a history of Bridget's feisty and peculiar personality. Our newest kitty - an orange tabby boy - is very standoffish. We've never had a nonsocial cat before, so it's good to know that although they have a mind of their own, they are still family friendly in their own way. Hope your heart will be open to a homeless kitty who needs love.

Oh my goodness, I am bawling my eyes out. Sweet, feisty Bee. I remember Violet and Audrey and this has all made me realise just how long I’ve been reading your blog - at least fifteen years, probably a bit more. I rarely comment but have laughed and cried along with you all these years and just had to say how sad and sorry I am for the loss of Bee. It is truly heartbreaking when we lose a beloved furbaby. Bee sounds a lot like one of my kitties, Soldier, who I handreared from two weeks old. Even with all that handling and bottle feeding he is still a bit spicy sometimes - some cats always retain their wild side! Soldier turns 15 this spring and is starting to get arthritis in his back legs. It pains me so much to see him slowing down, but I hope that we have many years together yet. Sending lots of love to your sweet family and I’m sure another kitty in need will find you at the right moment. Xo

What a little beauty and sooo fiesty - she certainly picked a loving familiy to live with! Loved reading her sweet story. Our cat is a wild one too and very tempermental. Our beloved furry family will always be in our hearts, but it's so very sad and I still miss our cats and dogs that are no longer with us. Love and hugs to you and your family.

You are so blessed with Bee's long and happy life. May she rest well in kitty heaven.

It's so heartbreaking, saying goodbye to our furry family members.
We said goodbye to our Smudge, a retired Guide dog, she was such a gentle soul at 16 1/2 years.

Alicia, I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m weeping for all my furry companions who’ve enriched my life. Your words are so beautiful.

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About Alicia Paulson

About

My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at aliciapaulson.com

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Since August of 2011 I've been using a Canon EOS 60D with an EF 18-200mm kit lens and an EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens.