It was a pleasant drive to the church conference center. We unpacked and stretched our legs with a brief stroll about the well manicured grounds. Soon a bell sounded, calling us to the opening service in the chapel.
I entered the dimly lit chapel set up with rows and rows of red-cushioned chairs. I selected a row and we entered. Much to my surprise, there upon one red cushion sat a small black kitten.
If there is one thing my husband cannot resist, it is a small black kitten sitting upon a red-cushioned chair in a dimly-lit, holy place. To tell the truth, that small black kitten occupied far more of our attention than did the chapel service.
After the service, we learned the kitten had been left by a priest who could no longer care for it, and its name was Moses. In need of a home, Moses resided in our room in the residence hall for the remainder of the weekend. Moses immensely enjoyed the car ride home, too.
Moses was the most unusual cat either of us had ever encountered. He did not jump upon counters, or much of anything else for that matter. He was exceptionally fond of being petted and uncommonly quiet. Moses did not have a full meow; his meow was a soft, gentle sound, like ‘ow’.
Back at our home church, word quickly spread that we loved cats and offers for free kittens abounded. One tiny gray kitten happened to be in dire need of a good home so Moses got a brother named Abraham.
Already thin when he joined our family, Abraham kept losing weight. The veterinarian determined he was not able to utilize ordinary cat food so his diet was changed to a specially formulated moist food, available only through veterinarians. He thrived on the new diet and formed a strong bond with me during his recovery.
Meanwhile, Moses began to exhibit an unusually low energy level. He stopped jumping upon any surface at all. A trip to the veterinarian, along with subsequent tests results, revealed feline leukemia.
“There is no cure for this disease,” said the veterinarian, “and it’s a painful death. I recommend that, in kindness, you seriously consider euthanasia.”
“I don’t want him to suffer, but I need a little more time with him—just to love on him, to let him know he’s a special creature.”
”Don’t wait too long,” the veterinarian cautioned. “He’s in an advanced stage already.”
At home, Moses selected a sleeping place in our hallway that allowed him to watch the most family activity while expending the least energy. On our final trip to the veterinarian, as my heart was breaking, Moses softly ‘ow-ed’ the entire way.
”I’ll hold him while you put him to sleep,” I told the veterinarian as tears rolled down my face.
“You don’t need to put yourself through this,” she replied. “I’ll do it for you and bury him afterwards.”
As our family mourned the loss of gentle Moses, Abraham got heaps of petting.
The day eventually arrived when, well into old age, Abraham began to lose mobility. I recalled Moses’ time of passing and determined to keep Abraham at home for as long as possible.
Using a shallow box lined with soft blankets, I gently placed Abraham there to rest. He slept for longer and longer periods of time each day as I sat beside him. Each time I left him to attend to some household chore, he would awaken and meow until I returned.
As long as I was petting him or simply sitting nearby, then he would sleep. I passed some of those long hours with singing…
All things bright and beautiful,
all creatures great and small,
all things wise and wonderful,
the Lord God made them all.*
I watched for signs of pain or discomfort, ever ready to take him to the veterinarian when needed. On the third afternoon as I sat beside him, Abraham sunk his teeth into a corner of the blanket, raised himself up and with one last big meow, released his final breath.
His burial place is in the wildflower garden among the trees he climbed and in the yard where he caught moles which he invariably left laying outside the back door.
May you rest in peace, my faithful friends.
*All Things Bright and Beautiful
Words: Cecil Frances Alexander (1818-1895)
Music: Royal Oak, melody from The Dancing Master, 1686
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