Friday, June 15, 2012

A Girl's Best Friend

From the cat who literally swallowed the canary (and then threw it up on your aunt's antique Persian rug) to the dog who ran away, we at the Stiletto Gang put our collective heads together and thought: what could be better than walking down memory lane with thoughts of some of our favorite--and not-so-favorite--pets? Join us for the next two weeks as we reminisce about the animals we loved and those who loved us.

By Laura Bradford

Looking back, I’m not sure who was truly the spot-EE and who was truly the spot-ER, but deep down inside, in that place where memories mingle with our heart, I know the answer.

You see, on that heart-changing day so long ago, I was in a tough place. I’d miscarried eighteen months earlier and found myself struggling to get pregnant again. All my life I’d wanted to be a mom and it wasn’t happening. Part of me felt like a failure, and part of me just felt empty.

For my twenty-fifth birthday, my then-husband surprised me with a trip to the animal shelter to get a cat, something, I imagine, he hoped would help to get my mind off the elusive prize while simultaneously taking the edge off my need to nurture.

I didn’t know where we were going until we got there and parked in front of a run-down building with a large window. At that window sat a little black and white cat who kept her eyes on me as I stepped from the car and approached the building.

When I went inside, the animal shelter folks told us to look around, pointing toward the room with the window. Inside the room were lots of cats—several of whom were trying to pick a fight with that little black and white cat. She, in turn, merely looked away, doing her best to ignore them.

Without so much as a moment's hesitation, I walked past all of those other cats and chose her as my own.

That’s the day Hobbes became part of my life.

That night, she cried outside my bedroom door until I came out to comfort her.

Through the years that followed, she took over that role…for me.

Hobbes became my best friend. She saw me through my pregnancy with Dear Daughter # 1 and then Dear Daughter # 2. She helped teach them to be gentle and kind. She taught us about loyalty. If we played outside, she watched from the closest window. If we played inside, she was always within arm’s reach…supervising. And when I sat in one place for longer than a minute, she was on my lap, purring as loud as she could.

She was a wonderful confidante.

She was a wonderful friend.

She was the epitome of pure, unconditional love.

In 2007, as we were separating, my then-husband asked if Hobbes could stay with him for a little while. I agreed out of kindness. Two years later, when we moved to New York and it was time to take Hobbes, my daughters needed her to be there for them when they visited their father. They needed her presence in the house, her cuddles in their beds, her purr to make things right. So, once again, I agreed. For them.

In 2010, when the girls were finally ready and eager for her to live out the rest of her life with us, I asked for Hobbes. My request was denied and I never laid eyes on Hobbes again.

That day, too, is one I will never forget. But instead of teaching me to focus on the pitfalls of being kind and selfless, that moment brought home what Hobbes had taught me and my girls...

Unconditional love is just that—unconditional. I loved Hobbes whether we were together or not. And Hobbes loved me whether we were together or not. The memory of her purity and her always-smile-inducing-purr was just as much a part of me as my eyes and nose.

Every time the girls saw her, they told her I loved her and missed her. They told her I wanted her with me but that, short of that, she was with me in my heart. That no one could ever take that away.

I believe she knew that. I believe she knew I’d allowed her to stay behind temporarily because of the lessons she taught me about selflessness.

News of Hobbes’ passing came last year. To say I hurt all over doesn’t even begin to describe that moment…that whole day…that whole weekend.

I still miss her. Every single day.

My life changed the day Hobbes and I found each other. Because, for the first time ever, I knew what it was to be loved without hesitation and judgment. She was, without a doubt, the best friend I’ve ever had.

Now tell me about your Hobbes...

13 comments:

  1. What a beautiful story about a treasured friend. Glad you have such sweet memories of Hobbes to offer comfort and joy.

    Marian

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  2. I had TIME reading about Hobbes.

    I remember my furry one who was my best friend. I told him everything and he in kind listened and gave the appropriate meows when needed. He knew when I was sad and would give me a head butt to come out of it and I did when I saw his precious face. When he got sick, I got sick and the worst is when the doctor told me it was time for him to go and I saw his face and the smile and let him go. After his passing, I was not able to own or be owned by cats because I developed an allergy to their dander.

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  3. Oh, Laura, what a wonderful tribute to Hobbes! I'm crying now (not that that's an odd occurrence these days).

    When I was being prepped for my cancer surgery, a Presentation nun named Sister Elaine came into the room and asked me if I wanted to say a prayer before going in. I said yes. She then went into this whole thing about God being like a faithful dog, running by your side, providing unconditional love. I don't know what it was, but that image resonated with me and brought me peace at a very difficult time. Sometimes I look at my little Westie and think "maybe?" and then she throws up on the rug and I go "nah." Maggie

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  4. Our fur babies are truly gifts from God...unconditional love in it's purest form. They don't judge us, don't criticize us, only adore us. I've chosen not to have children, and don't feel as though I've missed out on a thing...my cats are my fur children. Each one I've poured my heart and soul into, and have had my heart ripped out when I've had to say goodbye to them. But life without pets is just not an option...I can't imagine the emptiness of not having those perfect little beings beside me.

    Beautiful tribute to your darling Hobbes...she was just adorable.

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  5. Laura, You asked us to tell you about our Hobbes. As it turns out I have a cat named Hobbes. We got him as a kitten from a friend who was in vet school, the friend rescued the mother and delivered the kittens. Hobbes was the only one that survived. He's been with us ever since and turned 18 this year. I don't know how much longer he will be with us but we treasure everyday, ok maybe not the day he shredded every pair of nylons or the day he tore a whole in the speakers, but the others : )

    Thank you for sharing your story.

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  6. A wiemaraner chocolate lab mix, Callie was the most gorgeous dog in the history of dogs. She was also insanely smart, smarter than most humans I knew at the time.

    She was hit by a car in a rural area after squeezing out the window of my dad's truck three weeks before my wedding. It's been 14 years and though I gave in and we got another dog 6 years ago, I still mourn my Callie.

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  7. I had a kitten that died, and my daughters gave a little black and tuxedo (like Hobbes) to replace the kitty. Molly was different from the day I got her. She followed me around and din't sit in my lap, but was always there. when I moved to a place where she could safely be outside, she began to explore, and walk with me, so that she became a fixture. I lost her this winter, and I still see her around, if you know what I mean. She was ill and it was her time to go, but for 14 years she kept me company, talked to me, and generally made it clear who owned my home. My friend say they miss seeing her walking with me. Fur babies are, indeed, very special.

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  8. Thank you, everyone. I knew you would understand. And Lil, you do just know when they're different, don't you? It's like their light burns a little brighter...

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  9. And not a dry eye on the blog. Most heart wrenching, my dear. Losing a pet that you really truly love is one of the most difficult things in life.

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  10. Beautiful post, Laura. I totally get how you feel about Hobbes. My cat Stripes died two years ago on Mother's Day weekend. I was devastated. A year later I still missed him so much. Walter gave in when we met Peaches at the vet's. She had been left for dead on the side of the road and was injured. He nursed her back to health and needed a home for her. We fell in love with her the moment we saw her. She has a limp, but zips around the house and loves all of us...even the dog.

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  11. Our Golden Retriever, Clifford, was the best dog in the world. I still miss the way he'd come over and gently lay his muzzle on my knee to be petted. He was so patient with the kids growing up. They'd crawl all over him, pull his ears and tail, and he'd just give me that long suffering look that said "aren't you going to do something about this?" I was away when he passed, and I hate that he was buried before I had a chance to say goodbye. But certain good friends got me through that weekend :-).

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  12. Dusty, I remember that conference weekend. Your pain was palpable to those of us who know you. A part of us really does go with that most special friend.

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  13. Thanks for helping me get through it, L.

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