data scientist, biophysicist, mac-unix zealot, pythonista

To My Friend

This is, in so many ways, not the topic I envisioned for my second post. Sometimes life has other plans.

I knew you were special the moment you leapt into my arms at the cat shelter in New Haven the day we met you. Though we hadn't stopped at the shelter with the intention of adopting, you had chosen us and that's the way it would be. We had just moved far away from our relatives and friends, and you provided roots and a feeling of belonging. With you, we were a family. Our dwelling became a home.

We named you Lawrence, in honor of the street in New Haven on which we lived and the nearby shelter where we met you. Coincidentally, it was also the name of the Midwestern town we had just left. The name was quirky and a little too distinguished for a cat, and it would prove to suit your personality exactly.

You were a loyal companion throughout the many adventures life brought us. In graduate school, you helped me study for my oral exam, and you were by my side (or on top of my keyboard) when I wrote my thesis. During your time with us, you moved to nine different homes, one of which was a friend's guest room. You endured a drive across the country for one move and, for another, a flight, complete with a stress-filled scene at the security line. You tolerated an extended stay at a Days Inn, where we had to lock you in the bathroom every time we left in case housekeeping came. You took each of these adventures in stride, with the endearing aplomb and dash of absurdity that I'd come to love about you.

Occasionally, your adventuresomeness outweighed your bravery, though we never could convince you of that truth. Twice you escaped into the great outdoors. Fortunately, you didn't get far before deciding that hiding under the deck was the quickest way to return to the comforts of home.

Your were sometimes mischievous: teaching yourself to open cupboards and doors so you could get into things you weren't supposed to. You were often comical: twitching your tail in excitement and, when we scolded you, cackling in reply to mock us. You were always affectionate: during particularly enjoyable petting sessions, your purr was loud enough to make the cushions vibrate.

I loved all of your quirks: the way you stretched your arms out in token resistance when we rubbed your belly; the bobbing of the tabby-striped rings on your tail as you trotted to the door to greet me every evening; the way your gorgeous green eyes twinkled with mischief; the twitching of your tri-color nose as you rubbed it against my cheek to wake me up to feed you; the way you snuggled in bed with Rob after I arose, a daily event that I dubbed "Bro Time".

The end of your days with us came swiftly and unexpectedly. Your health was excellent, so I envisioned you as a cat whose longevity would be legendary. I was shocked and terrified as we rushed you in a cab to the emergency veterinary clinic the night you suddenly found yourself too weak to get into our bed. It broke my heart to see three people working to stabilize your condition as we left the hospital that night, but I was certain you would return home for many more years of adventures.

It was not meant to be. The veterinarian bought you a few hours of reprieve from the bleeding caused by the cancer inside you. We took you home the next day and stuffed you full of all the tuna and affection you could handle. As the day passed, I could see your strength starting to fade. I would have given anything to stop time at that moment and spend a few more days with you.

We laid you to rest that night, March 15, 2013. Eleven years, almost to the day, from the moment you first graced our lives. We were devastated by the abrupt end of your time with us, but we were relieved your suffering was brief. Though you were uncomfortable and too weak to walk near the end, you were nothing but the sweet and loving gentleman we knew. The happy times we had together will remain bright in our hearts and minds. Where you are now, we know there is an endless supply of tuna, ear scratches, and Bro Time.

Goodbye, dear friend.

"Lawrence, in happy times"

pets life