Farewell, Mehitabel

Last night a long feline life of 17 years came to a peaceful end as my friend Mehitabel sat in my lap and breathed her final breath. Here’s a short slideshow of photos of her:

Mehitabel and her brother Atticus were born on a farm, and were about 4 months old when they came home with me on Election Day 1993. Their names came from the books archy & mehitabel and To Kill a Mockingbird – two big influences on my teenage years (I was 22). He was an orange tabby with a truly superior personality, she was the runt of the litter and a little more nervous and high-strung. I lived alone and they were great company, often competing for space on my lap. A few years later, Atticus was hit by a car on my street just as I walked out of my house. I scooped him up and brought him inside while he convulsed with a broken neck. He suffered for a few more minutes and then died in my arms. I cried for days.

Mehitabel and I went from living alone together to living with other friends and their cats (shouts out especially to to Vixen, Ali, and Little Cat Z). She was surprisingly tough, sometimes chasing bigger cats around the house. We lived alone again in the late 90’s and she was so needy for attention that I thought she might be lonely. So when I spotted an adorable stray kitten playing in a neighbor’s yard, I took her home. After failing to locate her original owner, I named her Arya Tara. Unfortunately, Tara turned out be a bit of a brute (but also fun, and less mean as she’s aged), which only increased Mehitabel’s anxiety, and things in our house remained tense for the last 10 years.

Mehitabel was a sweet kitty, shy but friendly, extremely affectionate, and happiest any time she could sit in someone’s lap (once there, she’d stay put for hours). To be fair, she was not a very good kitty, especially in the past few years when she was unhappy and showed it by peeing on the floor almost daily.

So after over 17 years of living together, Mehitabel’s health started to decline last week. She got so skinny that her hind legs barely worked anymore. On Tuesday evening I started carrying her around the house with me like a baby which she used to love. By Wednesday evening she could hardly lift her head. After putting my son to bed, I came downstairs and held her in my lap where I knew she would be most comfortable and happy. After about 15 minutes she made a few last moans and then let go. I can’t imagine a better way for us to say goodbye to each other.

I’m so sad that she’s gone, but happy for the time we shared together and for the end of her suffering in this life. I’m also very grateful for outpouring of love and support that I’ve gotten from friends on Facebook and all kinds of people (including some strangers) on Twitter.

As I said after burying her today: You’ll always be in my lap. May your next life be comfortable and happy and filled with love.

Here’s my full collection of Mehitabel photos:

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