Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A Tribute to Mickey, aka "Mouse Man"

In June of 1999, I went to the grocery store and there was a man standing outside collecting signatures for a political petition. I walked past him to my car, trying to ignore the voice that said I needed to go talk to him, but it wouldn't abate.

So I went back to talk to him, and learned that his cat had just had kittens three days earlier and he really wasn't equipped to care for them. I felt I needed to help and besides, who could resist kittens? Well…I couldn't. Yes, I know that "I have kittens at my house, would you like to see them?" sounds like something a predator would say to lure a potential victim. But I trusted my gut, and went to see the kittens.

There were two orange boys, a tortie girl and a solid black male. Over the next 8 weeks, I spent a lot of time with the kittens. I had no intention of taking one home, because my Binky cat was 19 and I felt that the energy of a kitten would be too much. I also didn't want her to feel as though I was replacing her.

I ended up bonding with one of the ginger boys anyway, and it was extremely hard to let him go when we found him a good home. We found homes for the other ginger and the tortie, and then the black one was all alone. I looked down at him one day and was just overcome with love and longing. Strangely, I hadn't really felt connected to him until that moment, but it was clear that my heart wanted this precious soul so very much, and I just couldn't say no.

I loved and cared for Mickey for 17 ½ years to the best of my ability. He was a sweet and gentle soul, but he was not a cuddler and not fond of being held or kissed. However, he was affectionate in his own way, on his terms. Of course, I always wanted more than he could give. It took almost his entire life for me to come to accept him for who he was and to see that what he offered was no less special than my other cats who loved cuddling.

And it took a diagnosis of kidney disease for me to fully understand the true depth of my feelings for him. I always knew I loved him dearly and completely, I just had no idea how much. But faced with the prospect of his death, there it was – I saw a love so deep, so pure and intense that I would do anything to help him stay with me just a little while longer.

This past year, dealing with all of the stress and struggles that come with kidney failure was so difficult for both Mickey and me. But something amazing and wonderful came from this. My bond with this beautiful boy was strengthened beyond anything I could have ever hoped for. Not only did I finally understand just how much I loved him, but he was able to show more affection to me as well. 

I would put my face near his and ask him if I could have a "Mickey lick" and he would give my nose a few quick licks. I can't begin to explain just how much these nose kisses meant to me this last year of our life together. I felt that these Mickey licks were his way of saying "thank you" to me for all that I did for him, and it's a memory I can hold dear in my heart.

RIP my beautiful boy. My "earth angel with fur" is now an angel in heaven. I shall always remember how much happiness and love you brought into my life.

(Special thanks to the lovely Ann at Zoolatry for the Rainbow Bridge badge and Mickey Montage).