This I Believe

Lauren - San Diego, California
Entered on December 13, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
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Through my life, I have probably had as many bad days, than I have had good days and more instability than a 21 year old girl should be allowed, but the one thing that I have been able to rely on without a doubt is laying in bed at night with my kitten by my side.

I was 5 years old when I finally got a kitten of my very own. He was the absolute greatest pet anyone could ever ask for and he stayed with me for 16 years until his kidneys just could not last any longer. He sat by my side through losing a best friend, moving away from a best friend, best friends leaving me and numerous numerous family “scuffles”. When I cried, his furry coat dried my tears and when I laughed he was ready to chase a toy and pounce. And every night when I tucked myself in, I knew that the warm purr beside me would watch over and protect me all night long. My cat’s name was Shadow for two obvious reasons: his slick black coat and the fact that he followed me everywhere I went. Everything that I went through until I turned sixteen Shadow endured with me, and always showed me that everything would work out okay just by being my friend and being by my side.

In the fall of 2002 my mother died of a heart attack. Not surprisingly, this took a giant chunk out of me. As I felt my life and my future falling into shambles, Shadow stayed beside me. When I stayed in bed all day, he layed with me. When I aimlessly wandered around my house, he aimlessly wandered with me. As I quit eating and lost weight, he quit eating and lost weight until finally my veterinarian warned me that he was mourning my loss (and his loss) right along with me, and if I did not start taking care of myself, he would become dangerously malnourished. After that doctor’s visit, I knew that I would have to pick myself up, not just for me, but for my friend also. As the days went by, I found it easier and easier to get out of bed in the morning, get dressed and live my life. Shadow got healthier, just as the doctor promised. It’s as if this little creature was my guardian angel making sure that I did not completely lose myself through my tragedy. And still, every night when I tucked myself in, I knew that warm purr would watch over and protect me all night long; but this time, I feel that my mother was watching too.

This past summer, I lost my dear friend to failing kidneys. He started getting sick not long after I left for college. The first Thanksgiving that I came back, he was not the big fluffy kitten I remember, but a weak shadow of the Shadow I always knew. My stepmother took very good care of him for three years, giving him shots, four to five medications a day, and vet trips twice a week, until finally his little body just could not hold on any longer. Our vet informed us that as long as we were still taking care of him, he would hold on, but be in extreme pain, so as a family we made the agonizing decision to have him humanely put to sleep. On July 9, 2007 I lost the best friend I have ever known.

The very next day, somewhere in Chula Vista, California, a teeny, runt-of-the-litter tuxedo cat was being born and bottle fed since he was too weak to fight for mother’s milk. Eight weeks later I found him with his brothers and sisters in a cage at a Petsmart. This eight week old kitten was only about the size of my hand and had the tiniest little voice anyone has ever heard (quite a change from my loud mouth Shadow). I was still grieving the loss of my Shadowman, and always told myself that if I ever got another cat, it could not be black, but something inside of me was telling me that I needed him just as much as he needed me, so I brought him home. At first it was hard adjusting, my dog was not used to having to share attention, and I was not prepared for the work it took for a baby kitten, especially one this small and this high maintenance. At night when I tucked myself in, that warm purr was waking me up 2-3 times a night crying.

In these three months that we have been together, I’ve gone through a break-up, another death in the family, half of my house burning down and another sick pet, and he has never left my side the entire way. When I cry, his furry coat dries my tears and when I laugh he is ready to chase a toy and pounce with all his kitten might. And now, every night when I tuck myself in, I know that the warm purr beside me will watch over and protect me all night long. (My little Beau is now sleeping through the night). I’m not sure if I believe in reincarnation, or if I believe that through Shadow’s passing came my new kitten, but much like I felt when my mother passed on, I feel as though somewhere inside my Beau is the Shadowman, forever being my guardian angel.