Dear Dustie,

We will miss you. Of course, it will take awhile before we stop expecting to see you there, sprawled out on the carpet upstairs (which you loved about our new home), or curled up right in the centre of one of the steps going up (you were never there when we came down the stairs). Or before we stop expecting you to jump up on the bed, or on our laps, or to get excited about “helping” me make the beds! But it has been several days since you stopped visiting Sam, sitting at his feet waiting for him to pick you up. Perhaps you were trying to prepare him.

We were also prepared when we saw how skinny you were, that first day you stopped eating. We started to grieve then. And it seems kind of amazing that we all knew you were going to leave us Thursday night. We’re just thankful that it only took a couple of days, and that you seemed so peaceful and quiet.

One can’t help but wonder though, because you were never much on complaining. Should we have brought your food upstairs to you? We decided that would drag out the discomfort for you. And speaking of food, there are more questions: should we have changed the food you were eating? But I’m reminded that the reason we first changed the food was because of your weight loss, that started quite awhile ago. When it didn’t seem to be helping, we were in the process of changing it back, but the other food was still mixed in.

Sometimes we just have to accept that cats don’t live forever!

But yeah, it was always hard to know when you needed something (except when you “needed” treats!) Rarely would you sit right beside your emptying food dish and look pointedly at me; and never meow about it. You might be curled up somewhere close, and eventually I would figure it out.

Not to say that you didn’t yowl sometimes. Mainly when the routine was off kilter, and you thought it was time we were going to bed. Or when you’d been left alone for awhile. (By the way, I always felt really bad when we had to leave you alone like that. But the lady filling your food dish and changing your litter would have been happy to make friends, you know!) Sometimes it seemed like you were complaining that the sun wasn’t shining, but I always thought you were just trying to contribute to the conversation.

Conversation–that’s what we did when we went out for dinner yesterday, after waking up to a no-Dustie world–had some conversation about you. I think that’s called a “Celebration of Life”! When I think of it though, it seems we were always talking about you, to others and to each other.

Last night we talked about how when we first brought you home from the pet store, you hid under Rej’s jacket, and then wouldn’t go to him for a whole year after that! It was at Christmas time when you heard him fiddling with a package that you thought were your treats, that you suddenly jumped up onto his lap. Then we each had a turn of attracting you with treats! I remember regretting that I’d starting giving you some at bedtime, as you were very hard to put off, after that. Then Sam had a turn, keeping your treats beside his rocking chair, to give you. For years after he stopped that, you’d knock over containers that sat there, hoping it was treats.

Finally, we let Rej be the one to give you treats, which you were always excited about first thing in the morning. Even though he’s been doing that for several years, it wasn’t until your last few weeks, that you became his cat, and would sit on his lap and bat his face if he stopped petting you. You had been Sam’s cat during the day (remember way back when you would bring him pipe cleaners to play with you? And how you loved to play hockey with his lego blocks? Oh, and all the pompoms you chewed up, and the rubber elastics you got high on!); and you were always my cat at night.

In fact, there was a time when I wondered how I would be able to sleep at night if you ever left us, I was so used to you curled on top of me, purring. However, as my sleep got more restless, you would give up dealing with this “rolling log”, and find a more comfortable spot–often just beside me. But you kept trying for a bit of the night, even right up until your last couple of nights!

There have been many pets over the years. You seemed like a miracle to me when we got you, because I’d thought that Rej would never let me have a cat. This is the first time we’ve had one pet for 17 years! Years that have seen my son become a man; cat-comfort through puberty and menopause (the latter for me of course!) Something I have to say about those 17 years: they were shorter than all the others! They just zipped by.

Goodbye Dustie.

Oh, and thanks also for all the writing you did over the years–Christmas letters and blog posts! :)

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