On Wednesday, September 2, 2015, around 8:30 a.m., our beloved Ginny drew her last breath and departed for the Rainbow Bridge. She had just turned seven years old.
I can barely put into words how devastating her sudden, unthinkable loss has been for me. Ginny was truly the unifying spirit, the pulse of our home, and when her overworked little heart slowed and finally stopped, so did the familiar rhythm of our house.
It has taken eighteen months for me to be able to write this. I still grieve for her every day, and I believe our other cats do as well. Peanut is more affectionate toward us, more needy and more nervous, because his constant companion from age four weeks is gone. Max has become more of a bully, and Penny's outside-the-box behavior has worsened in response.
Ginny knew she was Top Cat in our house; her confident presence radiated a balancing, stabilizing energy. Without it, our family will never be quite the same.
Ginny was a beautiful cat, with an impossible complexity in her multicolored coat. I especially loved her freckled muzzle. She was my true companion, always there in the room with me, never far away but never obtrusive, a small quiet being that was too easy to ignore. But she was seldom ignoring me. If she was awake and I looked in her direction or got up from my chair, she would perk up and perhaps give me a little questioning mi-ao, as if to say, do I get some attention now? I have so much regret at taking her for granted; I was oblivious to how quickly the familiar comfort of her presence could be replaced by the jagged pain of her absence.
We adopted Peanut in 2009 so Ginny would have a companion. She was only six months old herself, but she set to work mothering him right away. Peanut grew up in her constant presence and even after he was grown, he came to her frequently for a good head-cleaning and a cuddle.
In 2010, we underwent a major remodel in our house, completely replacing the kitchen and touching all the other rooms of the house. Ginny and Peanut suffered through it with us, vacating first one end of the house and then the other, shifting our belongings like refugees within our own home. At one point we even had to bring our trailer home to have a place to sleep while the hardwood floors were being finished. But the result was certainly worth all the uproar, at least to me and Mike.
In 2011, we adopted two newcomers, Max and Penny. Peanut wasn't happy about it at all, but Ginny took it in stride and welcomed the new arrivals. She even enjoyed an occasional wrestling match with Max, before he got too big for her.
Ginny and the others went with us on our many RV adventures. She hated the actual traveling part in our truck; she didn't like the movement and would cry incessantly until she got too tired. I was very glad to see her much happier when we traded up to a luxury motor coach where there was plenty of room for her to find a comfortable perch until the motion stopped. Sadly, we only got to take her in it on two trips.
Ginny provided the soundtrack of our house. She was our talker, with a unique melodic voice that had a trill buried in it. But she made other unique sounds -- her sanding-machine scratching on closed doors, the clink of her collar tag on the treadmill or the glass coffee table as she took a bath. Her best sound was her purr, a throaty diesel-engine roar that could rattle the windows. The purring would start if you just looked at her, in anticipation that something good was about to happen. She knew she was loved and she loved back.
She loved having her butt scratched and would hike it up so far that she looked like a crescent moon. She also loved having her head and face scratched hard and fast; I was the only one who could do it because I had fingernails. Ginny would flatten her ears so far and shut her eyes so tight, she looked like an earless bat. And the purring would never stop until the scratching did. She never got enough.
When we realized she was sick, we started keeping her in my bedroom at night, so that the other cats would not bother her. With no competition for me and the bed, she would climb up on my chest for a nightly cuddle. I am so very thankful for those last few nights we had together.
I took the photos below on what would be my last night with her. I must have had a premonition because I pulled out my cellphone and snapped her face -- too close, really -- as she lay on my chest. Selfies by Ginny. Later, we had a really good head-scratching session. I wish I had thought to turn on video and immortalize that amazing purr. Now I can only hear its music in my memory.
Ginny had many sleeping places in our house that were hers alone -- on the treadmill, on the coffee table, atop my dresser, in her special scratcher boxes, and occasionally on one of our chests. How I miss her gentle quiet presence. Now she sleeps in a special place on our mantle, and forever in our hearts.