Baby came into our lives more than ten years ago, a stray who showed up on my mother’s porch. We never knew his story, although I’ve always suspected he must have been the companion of some elderly person or child—someone who loved him dearly but had no control over his fate. He was desperate for a new home, desperate for people to love. But neither my mother nor I were in a position to bring him inside, so while I tried to find someone to take him (that’s when I discovered how difficult black cats are to place), she began feeding him. We named him BC, short for “Black Cat.” Not very original, but then we didn’t expect him to be a part of our lives for long. Because he loved pets so much, we’d spend hours out on the porch with him in our laps, while he purred and cuddled and said, “I really, really want to come inside.” He broke our hearts, but with two aggressive alpha male cats, bringing him inside just didn’t seem an option.
Fast forward to seven years ago. We were leaving my mother’s house one evening when BC came crawling up on the porch. He was in such awful shape, I thought he’d been hit by a car and had a broken leg or back. In truth, he was actually starved and massively dehydrated. We figured he must have been accidentally shut in a neighbor’s shed and almost died there before he was let out. As it was, he almost died in my arms as I sat up all night holding him and coaxing him to drink and eat. I promised him that if he survived, we’d bring him inside and give him a real forever home.
It was my older daughter who took over his rehabilitation; she also renamed him Baby. He was so debilitated, it was months before he could walk without falling over, or jump again. But we came to realize that, in truth, we should have named him Buddha Cat, because he was a very evolved soul—endlessly patient, kind, and loving and giving to both people and the other cats who came into his life. Here he is cuddling our cat Nick when Nick was dying of kidney failure a few years ago…
We never knew how old Baby was; the vet who helped us nurse him back to health seven years ago said he was at least ten and probably more. And then, last fall, he started having health problems. We knew it was only a matter of time, but through it all he remained as calm and as loving as ever. And this past Monday, just two days after we lost Banjo, Baby died, held lovingly in my daughter’s arms.
You know, my computer went into meltdown this week, and I’ve never been as good about backing up as I should be. Yet even though the data loss was massive, I am (uncharacteristically!) finding it hard to get too upset about it. Some things really aren’t as important as they might otherwise seem.