On Saturday morning the 18th April I was in bed thinking “just 5 more minutes” when I should have been up polishing my Hair Soiree talk. A stumbled back into our room having just offered to make breakfast. I remember thinking “well that was quick!?”. My contacts weren’t in yet. He was a blur but I could tell by his inability to get a single coherent word out something big was wrong.
We found Sofia in the corner of our front garden. As I got closer, she looked as if she had just lay down to have a nap on her side, paws outstretched. When I got to the front fence I saw that her eyes were glazed over and dark. She seemed physically unharmed. She was stiff & cold when I bent down to stroke her. I tried to close her eyes but they wouldn’t close.
Sofia hadn’t come home that Friday night before. Nothing unusual really. We always left a few windows open for her to pop back inside. If we were up watching TV till the wee hours we left a few doors open too (with the security gate locked). We had a system. It worked. I generally worried anyway. Whether it was 1am, or 3am, she always turned up. Just not that night.
We’d been on a quick last minute trip to Vic Falls earlier that week & as much as it was on my bucket list, I hated being apart from her. I got up super early on the Monday we left & raced to get her boarded at Cataholics so she didn’t have to go in the Sunday before. But coming back our flight ran late & add Joburg peak hour traffic to that mix and we couldn’t get to Cataholics before they closed so she had to spend an extra/third night there. We were only reunited on Thursday. The next day she was gone.
Uncooperative as she was, I was always taking pictures of Sofia (I liked to tell myself she secretly loved it). This picture, the last one I took of her was taken on that Friday at 14:26 about two hours before I saw her for what I wish I’d known would be the very last time. I sat down to lunch on the couch in front of the TV . She was having a nap on the sunny windowsill a meter to my right. The light was shining on the TV so badly. I got up to draw the curtain, but I drew it halfway so I could watch her while I watched TV. I got up quietly & tip toed to take this picture and kissed her. The professional napper that she was, she shooed me away with her paw, not even opening her eyes & curling up tighter.
About an hour on, A arrived home from work earlier than expected & I remember picking her sun baked body off the windowsill to meet him at the kitchen door. He opened the door & there I was standing, arms outstretched handing her over. He took her back to the lounge where they played. When she’d had enough she jumped off the sofa, went to eat a bit, came back into the lounge and scurried straight out of the double doors into the garden. That’s my very last memory of her.
That Saturday morning was a teary blur of calling up a bunch of vets for advice on biopsies and cremations. In the end we buried her in our garden.
A was amazing and so practical & level headed even though I knew he was grieving too. He got things done while I felt like I fell buckled over into a teary, immobilized mess. When I got home that evening all Sofia’s things like her toys, beds, blankets, litter, food/water bowls were cleaned & packed away.
But out of sight truly is not out of mind.
Every time I pass her room it looks so bare. When I hang laundry out to dry in the yard I expect her to pop out of one the bushes, stretching her legs from her afternoon nap. These last few days I was still pretty sure I heard her meowing/whining a few times. I’ve unfollowed every cat related account online but I still see friends/people post pics of their kitties. I went to get groceries and I had to pass the pet store I usually pop into for her food (and sometimes a new toy even though I knew she probably wouldn’t play with it).
I quickly turned into one of those people I rolled my eyes at & opened an Instagram account for her. She was growing so fast I just wanted a place to put up her pics that I could go back and look at. And I wanted to show the world how gorgeous she was. Man, she was so pretty!
By the time I found her at Cataholics I’d been looking for a kitten for weeks & I couldn’t believe my luck that that no one had booked her yet. She was just 3 weeks old when we met and had to stay with her mom another month + before she could come home. I visited her almost everyday, sometimes twice a day in that time. Yes, because I missed her but also because I was selfishly afraid they might give her to someone else.
I’ll miss our evenings the most. On the nights she was in, it was always a bit of an unspoken competition to see whose side of the bed she’d choose fall asleep on (mostly mine!). That bed was really getting too small for the 3 of us but co sleeping was our thing. It was awkward and it was the best.
Sofia, my baby I don’t know what to say. I have no idea what happened. You only lived for a short 7 months and you were in our lives for 5 of that. We couldn’t get enough of you. It’s not fair & I’m really, really sorry. If there was something, anything I could do it would be done a million times over by now. You made our house a home & gave us something to talk about everyday. You were the best kitten. You were the centre of every day. You’ll be loved & missed forever.