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My beloved friend and companion Bridget is not well She is a cat most triumphant. Her life was supposed to end a decade ago, but through some miracle or the miracle of love, she has shared my life for nearly a decade. As I type, she is lying still and ebbing away. How do we cope with this end of time, this end of a relationship borne out of love and ending in tears of love and grief? 

I choose to write this while she is still with me so that I can still see her and not wait until she is gone. Oh, how I have loved and love this precious cat. Oh, how she has loved me and enriched my life! I am not one for exclamation marks. I find them overused and not express the emotion that it tries to evoke. Yet on this occasion, I must break my rule and use it with great passion. For she has given me so much and I wonder what my life will be without her constant demands upon me, my time and my purse?

I love her. As do we all, our treasured and irreplaceable friends.   

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When she first came to me, all those years ago, she was a frail little thing, a calico cat of great determination and true grit. She was about 3 or 4 years old and had been found with a broken pelvis, broken legs and a severely broken heart. A group of young thugs had put her in a sack and used her as a football, kicking her and eventually throwing her in front of a car. The driver took her to a vet and he ( the vet ) decided to use some experimental new drug and treatments on her. After all, she was going to die, so who better to test his new treatment on than a cat with no home, no chip and no hope?

She survived. He said to the local SPCA that she was brain damaged, would never walk again and needed somewhere to go to be loved, held and cherished for what little life she would have.

I stepped up to the mark and took her home to die.

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As you know, I have never been good with death.  I do not know why. I just have a terrible fear and physical reaction to the finality of life departing. But when I saw her little face, her vacant eyes, her tortured body, I just KNEW I had to take her HOME and give her some peace in her final days. Perhaps I felt that I could be Nurse Nice Day and make her better with my soft words and kind love.

She could barely walk. She certainly could not jump and she cowered in fear and was timid and frightened. 

Over the coming days, weeks and months, I gently introduced myself to her and massaged her little body, her limbs and coaxed her to trust me. 

She started to put on weight and, miracle of miracles, one day, she jumped onto the sofa beside me and let me pat her while she tentatively purred and accepted my love.

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She has never been an outside cat - her timidity and still fragile health was not conducive to life in a world of sudden noises or a swooping crow or naughty bush turkey.

Cats get a bad rap . But so often it is their  " Owner " who deserves the rap. A cat well fed, well loved and well brought up is not a hunter. Cats are too bloody lazy to hunt unless they have to. But that is just my opinion. 

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not Bridget. Just a fat contented cat

Anyway, back to my girl.

She still hides when she hears fireworks or sirens and is quick to run away when a tradie comes into her home. 

Over the years, she has attacked me, leapt on me, kissed me, bitten me and licked me. She has broken my sleep with endless purring in my ears and caused my heart to soar with delight as she became part of my reason for living.

I live opposite a school and it is her habit to sit on the window sill and gaze out at the children as they laugh and greet each other at the start of the day. At 2.30 pm she goes back to the window and watches the show in reverse as the kids come out to greet their parents and share the joy of their day with friends and chums.

Bridget is my best friend.

We share secrets and quiet moments together. We eat cakes and treats and she seems to like all the same people I like. 

Bridget loves President Trump. We have shared every single rally together.  

But sadly, over the past few weeks, she is starting to fail. It is almost like the light has gone out and she simply lies quietly, does not eat and, for the first time ever, this morning she did not come to the door to greet me when I came home from shopping with Redhead.

I know it is inevitable. I know that her time has come. As Redhead pointed out, she is about 14 years old and that is not a bad innings for a girl who had such a big trauma in her early years. 

Throughout this lockdown nonsense and restrictive living, Bridget has been the mainstay of my day to day life.

We call our cats, dogs or birds our " pets" but they are not. They are our valued and trusted companions and soul mates who have shared of themselves so that we can be honoured with sharing our lives with them.  We exist to serve them and serve them with pleasure and gratitude for all they give us in return.

Quid pro quo.

What we give to them is minuscule in comparison with what they give back to us.

Whether Bridget lives hours or another day is immaterial. She survived because I needed her and she needed me. 

We have lived sympatico for a decade and that clever, gorgeous calico lady is and will forever be one of the best things that has ever happened to me.

And it all came out of tragedy.

 

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When she leaves me, I will miss our quiet moments at night, long after I have stopped writing articles for patriotrealm or bitching and moaning with Redhead about the state of the world; it was Bridget who sat beside me, kissed my ears, purred and listened to me talking about Mr Beaconsfield, my Trump crush or the fact that the world has gone to shit.

Who else would do that? 

This morning, I took Bridget down to Redhead's home. We wanted her to have her moment in the sun and feel the grass on her toes and breathe in the fresh air and feel the breeze on her little face. 

She can barely walk, is so thin and so frail, but she is still sitting quietly in the garden and having a nice day at Granma's place.

I know that it will only be a matter of hours but at least I know that she has loved and been loved.  

She is sitting under the lemon tree, a place well regarded in our family as a place of quiet retreat. We did not place her there. She staggered there and lay down. She chose her place to leave us.  Cats always have to have the last word.

When I walked through my front door and she was not there to greet me, as she has for so many years, I felt such emptiness and grief that is hard to explain. My home has become simply somewhere I live.

Her toys, her bowls, her multiple beds, her brushes, her BEING is missing. 

I have always liked quiet, but not this deafening silence. 

Devoid of her presence; that reassuring knowledge that she will pop up and ask for her lunch or a pat or an audience to watch her as she grooms her once beautiful tummy.

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People who say they hate cats have no idea what it is to love and be loved by a cat. 

It is an honour. 

I know that there are those of you who think that I should have taken her to the vet, not her Granma's.  I know that she is not in pain, other than the pain of being old and coming to her end of natural life. You may ask how I know? Because I know her.   

If there was any suggestion that my baby girl was in pain, it would have been a no brainer. But she is just old and her time has come. She is just ready to go to the Rainbow Bridge and she will wander over and do it in HER time. 

She is sleepy, tired, worn out and she is ready to go out with dignity, not a jab.

I much prefer waiting for a call from Redhead to tell me that Bridget passed under a lemon tree with grass under her toes rather than a cold bench in veterinary surgery with fear in her eyes. No, my darling girl will pass in the open air, in the sunshine and under a lemon tree.

Bridget died at 1.30 pm Brisbane time. Under the lemon tree. Half an hour ago. Shaydee has asked me to publish this. I will do so. Her Granma, Redhead, buried her in the garden beside a Bird of Paradise bush.

Many tears being shed right now from the team at Patriotrealm.

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